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Blogging By the Sea
Saturday, June 27 2020

This month's Round Robin Blog Hop asks the question -  Do you have any charming, likable villains? 

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Every once in a while we come upon a villain who is portrayed as charming, likeable, and relatable. As an author we are often reminded that our villains need to have some saving attributes because no one is all bad. An example often being a Mafia hit man who kills without turning hair, yet has a soft spot for his mom. Maybe you’ve run into a totally irascible old man, who is mean to his wife and yells at the kids in the neighborhood, but who can’t bear to see an animal hurt. But what about the villain who really does capture your sympathy?

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 Kill List by Brian Shea has just such a character. The hero is FBI Special Agent Nick Lawrence just transferred to the bank robbery unit. The villain is Declan Enright – he’s the bank robber. But he’s also a former police officer, recently fired over a controversial shooting, and he has reached his breaking point. Confronted with insurmountable financial burdens in the wake of his early termination, Declan is desperate for a way to provide for his wife and three daughters. Tapping into an elite skill set forged during his time as a Navy special warfare operator, and using the insider knowledge of a former police officer, Declan crosses the threshold and commits the perfect crime.

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When you are in Declan’s point of view, you feel his desperation and the hurt of what has happened to him. You watch him case the joint and plan his heist and you are rooting for him. You are as desperate as he is that he will succeed. But then Nick is assigned to the case, and begins closing in. I won’t tell you how it ends because you really need to read the book, but when a series of terrorist attacks rattles the nation, these two men end up on the same side just as desperate to prevent the next attack. Two engaging characters, both working to stop an unthinkable evil and the entire time you are wondering how the heck is Declan going to get out of going to jail when it’s over?

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Years ago I read Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. Technically a novel because he put thoughts into the character’s heads and words into their mouths, but it is history, too. A thoroughly researched telling of the four days of the Battle of Gettysburg. But what Shaara has done is tell the story from both sides. What few of us think about is that the men who led from both sides were just a few short years before in the same army. They had attended West Point together. They were friends and fellow soldiers. But the Civil war divided their loyalties and Shaara fills us with that anguish that came. It depends on who’s side you’re on in that war which man is the villain. Lewis Armistead and Winfield Scott Hancock were the best of friends and here at Gettysburg, Armistead’s prayer was that he would not have to face Hancock on the field of battle. And it was Hancock who awaited him at the top of Cemetery Hill at the end of the ill-fated Pickett’s Charge. And it was Hancock that cradled Armistead in his arms as his friend’s life ebbed away. Joshua Reynolds had recently fallen in love and wore his sweetheart’s ring on a chain under his uniform. Robert E. Lee ached at the need to fight against men he’d once fought with, torn between old loyalties and his fealty to his home state of Virginia. J.E.B. Stuart was a laughing banjo player and an excellent scout. His reports had never failed Lee, until now. So, who is the villain and who the hero? But Shaara makes you care about them all and it’s hard to read this book without feeling the anguish they all felt.

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 In my own writing, I have one “villain” who turns out to be pretty darn charming. In Keeping His Promise, my heroine, Kate, a journalist, wants nothing to do with a prominent politician’s plan to turn an abandoned plantation into a second chance house for young men who have gotten into trouble with the law, and Kate’s doing everything she can to make sure it never happens. She is prepared to dislike everything about the man the politician wants to introduce her to, a man being considered to run this second chance house.

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Imagine her reaction to find he is a soft-spoken, educated, gentleman. And just when she’s ready to be charmed, he reveals his past: that of a soldier wounded and hooked on drugs, turning to crime to secure them when money ran out, and who ended up doing time for his crimes. Ah-ha! Exactly the sort of charming scoundrel she doesn’t want housed in her quiet town.   But Lucas Trevlyn’s story is more compelling than Kate can easily dismiss. While he was in prison his father passed away and when he got out, there was nowhere for him to go. The one man he’d depended on was gone. His home was gone. His livelihood as well because his education was in law enforcement was useless with a criminal record. And then came the day when he stood on the wrong side of the railing on a bridge over a highway, ready to end the mess he’d made of his life. And he would have gone through with it, had it not been for Sam Montgomery, an off-duty cop who spied him getting ready to jump. Sam talked him off the ledge and gave him a second chance. Now Lucas has a degree in counseling and he’s been working with young men, helping them to turn their lives around, and he wants very much to help them find their second chance. What is Kate to do now?

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 I think it’s easy for a reader when the villain is not very likeable. But give him a human face, a human failing or a wound, a reason for what he or she does, and it’s harder for the reader to dislike him and cheer for his downfall. Just as it would be hard for a die-hard Dixie fan to hate a man who wears his sweetheart’s ring or a soldier who holds his friend, the enemy in his arms as he dies, it’s hard for the reader to not to care about the villain with a heart, or a charm or a failing that they can relate to. Just as I did when reading Kill List, knowing that Nick was onto Declan and that something had to happen to reconcile their opposing goals. Just as I did when I created Lucas, and meant him to be a thug that Kate would easily dismiss, but suddenly this character was telling me his life story and I was compelled to change the plot.

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Hop on over and check out how other authors have portrayed villains with charm.

Fiona McGier 
Judith Copek 
Dr. Bob Rich 
Connie Vines 
Diane Bator 
Helena Fairfax 
Rhobin L Courtright 

Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 12:02 am   |  Permalink   |  3 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, June 07 2020

VIRTUAL AUTHOR VISIT WITH A. PIPER BURGI

A. Piper Burgi is the author of several non-fiction books and recently added five historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings. Her debut novel, IN THE SHADOW OF HER MAJESTY, was a Golden Book Award Semi-Finalist, and Readers' Favorite Book Reviews named her women's fiction novel THE COUNTRY GIRL EMPRESS "...a must-read for historical fiction fans who can appreciate the imperial intrigues…"

She is also a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Independent Author Network, an Air Force Veteran, and a military spouse; plus a busy doggie mommy, a cook, a chauffeur - you get the picture. When she is not busy chasing after her three furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee, she can be found typing away on her computer.

Website URL: https://www.authorapiperburgi.com

Blog URL: https://www.authorapiperburgi.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorapiperburgi/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4eG0tDPohHPM1RcBcDY-pQ

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/a-piper-burgi-0ba30b14

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7121827.A_Piper_Burgi    

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About IMPERIAL DIARY – A COUNTRY GIRL EMPRESS NOVEL (Book 4 of the series)

Publication date: 16 Mar 2020

Publisher: Independently Published

Genre: Historical Fiction/Historical Person

The sudden, violent death of Sisi’s only son, Crown Prince Rudolph at his hunting lodge Mayerling, shakes the Empire to its core. The fact that the dead body of his teenaged mistress is found next to his makes the scandal complete. Does this tragedy mark the end of the Danube monarchy, since Rudolph only had a daughter?

Buy the book: IMPERIAL DIARY – A COUNTRY GIRL EMPRESS

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/A-Piper-Burgi/e/B00D358KYM

Note: All four books of the Country Girl Empress series (Kindle version only) are currently on sale at: https://www.amazon.com/A-Piper-Burgi/e/B00D358KYM

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Interview with A. Piper Burgi

How long have you been writing fiction? When did you start?

I’ve been scribbling as long as I’ve known how to write. But I started writing seriously nearly a decade ago and added fiction writing to my repertoire four years later.

Why did you start —what triggered your writing?

I began writing in my spare time shortly after my mother suddenly passed away. Just a few months prior, she had asked for my help to get her memoirs published, but neither one of us had any idea where to begin. As I worked hard to keep my promise to my late mother, I needed to create some balance between the sad memories of my mother’s passing and my active lifestyle. And I found that when writing my stories. Before I knew it, I was entirely consumed by this new pastime.

What was your “writer dream when you began to write? What is your “writer dream” now?

My original goal was to make the pain I felt, caused by my mother’s death, somehow a little more bearable. As time went on, I’ve adjusted my goals. These days it’s primarily about story-telling, less self-healing.

What does the act of writing bring into your life? Why do you want to write?

Writing provides me an outlet for my creativity and imagination.

Do you have a favorite writing space or a place you go to for inspiration?

My favourite place to write is sitting on my sofa with my laptop on my lap. Inspiration can be found everywhere.

What part of the writing process do you enjoy the most? The least?

I love to write, create a story from beginning to end, closely followed by researching my subject matter; it makes me feel like I’m on a treasure hunt. I’m not very fond of editing, but I’ve made my peace with it, as it is part of the process.

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Excerpt from Imperial Diary

  Dense rain clouds hung deep over the port of Trieste, and bolts of lightning struck near Miramare Castle. The first large drops of rain fell. The winds howled in short bursts around the reinforced battlements. The sounds of the heavy surf mixed with the rumbling thunder were only drowned out by the patter of the rain against the window panes.

  Just a few hours ago, the imperial yacht “Miramar” had arrived at the private pier of the castle with Empress Elisabeth of Austria and her small entourage on board. While the ladies-in-waiting, Countess Marie von Festetics, Ida von Ferenczy, and Landgravine Therese von Fürstenberg as well as the always-busy Baron Nopsca, exhausted from the journey, retreated to their rooms, Empress Sisi had begun one of her infamous long walks without a bite to eat. And despite the nearing thunderclouds, she went alone.

  “I’m beginning to seriously worry about Her Majesty,” the Baron said to Ida von Ferenczy and stepped towards one of the high windows from which one could see over the fence all the way down to the empty coastal streets of Trieste.

  “Not a single person in sight! I hope she has enough common sense to seek shelter somewhere. What would the Emperor say if something happened to her!?”

  “I don’t even want to imagine that, Baron! What if she sought shelter in a local public house, all by herself, and someone recognizes her? Just think about the assassination attempt three years ago! And to this day, you occasionally read ‘Eviva Guglielmo!’ smeared on buildings and statues, even after that Italian irredentist, Mr. Oberdank, was arrested.”

  “That time, our police force did good work. I’ve informed the local police president immediately after we arrived! They will keep a close watch on the castle and the surrounding areas.”

  “That is more than necessary, Baron. No one is safe because of these Nationalists, but Her Majesty doesn’t seem to care. She just pretends that none of this pertains to her.”

  “You’re telling me?! She doesn’t make it any easier for me,” the Baron moaned. “I thought over time, she would change, but apparently, I was wrong. She not only looks like the years have passed her by without a trace, but she also acts like it. The word ‘fatigue’ is not part of her vocabulary. She rides like the Devil, and her wanderlust is almost unearthly. Nature, nature, nothing but nature! And that combined with her love for the poet Heinrich Heine and his writings…”

  He looked towards the Heavens for help, while Ida jumped up in the bright light of the latest lightning bolt, which was almost immediately followed by the grumbling of thunder.

  “Holy Mother of God…” a female voice could be heard from the direction of the door. “What’s she going to look like this time when she comes back? And I just combed her hair and pinned it up just before we disembarked the yacht.”

Fanny Feifalik, Her Majesty’s hairdresser, entered the room and fell onto an armchair while wringing her hands in despair.

  “You have nothing but hair on your mind,” Baron Nopsca snapped.

Posted by: AT 12:01 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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