Villains and Characters We Love to Hate by Catherine Chant
Today I want to talk about villains in stories. Villains aren’t always evil people. In fact, sometimes, as in the case of my young adult time travel romance, WISHING YOU WERE HERE, they’re just opposing forces. Something that comes between the main character and what she wants or needs. They have their own goals, and most importantly a well-drawn villain (or in this case a villainess) has a perfectly good reason (in her mind at least) for doing what she’s doing, even if it’s causing trouble.
In WISHING YOU WERE HERE, Callie Reinard finds herself swept back to 1957 to save teen sensation Joey Tempo from a plane crash that takes his life at age 20.
Callie isn’t looking for romance at all, just trying to save a guy she feels died too young, but it’s hard not to start falling for the charming singer once she meets him. Great looks, amazing talent and just an overall nice guy. What’s not to love?
But then Sable Courtney flounces into the picture. Sable is Joey’s teenaged fiancée, a local beauty queen who relishes the extra attention being with Joey brings her. To say she doesn’t appreciate Callie’s sudden appearance in their lives is putting it mildly. :-)
Sable’s always impeccably dressed, all pearls and taffeta, and tries her hardest to bring a splash of glamor to the tiny town in Tennessee where the story takes place.
In one scene, Joey offers to take Callie shopping since the time travel didn’t include carryon and all she has are the clothes on her back. Sable invites herself along and is full of fashion advice.
Sable’s frostiness thawed during the shopping expedition. She seemed to be in her element buying clothes with someone else’s money. Still, it didn't stop her from making little jabs at Callie's choices.
Sable scowled at the pair of bright blue peg pants Callie slipped onto the sales counter along with the dresses Sable had selected for her.
"Those are for trashy girls with bad reputations," Sable said.
Callie bit her lip to keep from laughing. She could've sworn a smirk dashed across Joey's face as well while he waited patiently by the door. The low-waisted jeans and tank tops in her summer wardrobe back home would surely scandalize Sable.
"I promise to only wear them on the weekends, okay?"
"Never out in public next to me." Sable paid the salesgirl, dropped the bags into Joey's arms and sashayed out of the store.
Still, Sable has her good points. She’s tenacious when she wants something, she exudes sophistication beyond her 17 years, and she’s dedicated to Joey. So much so that Callie questions her decision to marry so young. When Callie goes to a lunch with a local boy, Sable has her married off as well:
“…Besides, Tim’s falling for you. I can tell by the way he looks at you. It's the same look Joey gave me when we first met. In no time at all you'll be going steady, then you'll be engaged just like me."
Callie nearly choked while sipping her juice. Sable had Callie’s future all figured out. Only it was nothing close to what Callie had in mind."I’m only seventeen—actually, eighteen next week," Callie said, thinking about the date. "Don't you want to go to college before you get married?"
"College? Whatever for?" Sable scrunched up her petite nose as if the idea were too horrible to consider.
"To learn. To grow. To have your own career."
"Joey's all I need," Sable said. "I want to stay home in my beautiful house and raise beautiful children."
"Don't you want something more for yourself? Some success that's your own?"
"I want to be a good wife to Joey, to support him in his career. That’s all I need."
The words slipped off Sable’s tongue as if she'd rehearsed them for a pageant. Did she really believe what she was saying? Callie couldn't imagine someone as sophisticated as Sable had no ambitions. The girl seemed so mature, and yet she had no idea what real life was all about.
"What about your poetry?"
Sable looked startled for a split second before she regained her la-dee-da attitude. "School assignment, nothing more."
"Doesn't your mother work?"
"Goodness no!" Sable exclaimed. "Ladies who marry successfully do not need to work. Wait until you find your Cary Grant." She pointed to a color picture of the handsome star in her Modern Screen magazine. "Then you’ll want to be a wife and mother just like I do."Not if I have something else going for me I won’t, Callie thought.
Throughout the story, Callie and Sable continue to butt heads over feminist issues and gender roles, but more often than not, Joey sits at the center of their conflict. I like to call Sable to girl you love to hate. She’s not all bad, but since she’s sabotaging Callie’s friendship with Joey, she does fall into the villainess role. Which is a little ironic since
Callie seems to be the one coming between Sable and Joey.
In honor of Sable, I thought it would be fun to create a pearl bracelet just like she would wear. It’s a fun project you can complete in 10 easy steps with no special tools necessary. I’ve put the directions up at http://www.ScribblingDivas.com .
I’m also giving away a handcrafted (by me!) pearl bead necklace and a Kindle version of WISHING YOU WERE HERE to one lucky person who comments on this blog. (You can view the necklace on my blog at http://www.CatherineChant.com/blog )
So, tell me what you think about villains in romance novels. What makes them more believable to you? Do you prefer baddies who are always bad and easier to dislike? Or do you prefer villains who have a sound reason for what they’re doing so you feel a little sympathy for them?