Why We Love Villains
From the archives
With Halloween nearly upon us, it’s a perfect time of year for me to wax paranormal. Some of you might know that I’m now interviewing the Guardian, who is the baddie in my Medusa’s Consortium novel, In The Flesh. He is now well and truly incarcerated for his crimes and really wants to share his story. I know he’s the bad guy, and I know he’s done terrible things, but being this up close and personal with him on a regular bases makes it difficult to remember that sometimes. Even though I know he is a villain to be avoided at all costs, that doesn’t mean I don’t have fantasies about shagging him!
Our attraction to the villain is one of the wonderful contradiction that makes a great paranormal story. And the delicious and frightening opposite side of the paranormal coin is that as a reader, and a writer, I want to be almost as afraid of the hero as I am of the villain. I want to shag them both! Oh the angst! I honestly can’t think that anyone could really fall for a vampire or a werewolf or a demon or a powerful witch, or any other paranormal hero/heroine without being, at the same time, terrified. In fact just the right combination of fear and attraction is, in my opinion, one of the most powerful aphrodisiacs EVER! I think it’s absolutely essential in a sexy paranormal story. A part of what makes good paranormal work for me is knowing that the hero or heroine could easily turn and destroy the very thing he or she loves and longs to possess. More often than not, the hero is really an antihero, striving to be greater than his nature, and the more difficult the struggle, the more endearing I find him to be.
In fact, there are times when the only separation between the hero and the villain is how willing they are to do battle with their own flaws. Of course the battle with flaws is nothing but the age-old human struggle magnified and highlighted for the sake of the story. Few of us literally rip people’s throats out when we’re having a bad day, and most of us would be horrified if the love of our life did that before morning coffee. That niggle of fear, that edge of uncertainty is what raises the stakes, what raises the level of tension and excitement in a good paranormal story. The lover is not safe, and yet that danger makes the sex all the hotter and the angst all the angstier. In my opinion, it’s the lack of safety that makes paranormal erotic romance so stimulating in those larger than life ways that are more difficult to achieve in ordinary romance, though are definitely brought into play in BDSM stories. In fact, I’d suggest that BDSM, at least on some level, is, in part, the desire to make our sexuality a little more dangerous, a little more edgy, in the absence of demon lovers and vampires. The whole sexy, super-heated, blow-your-mind purpose of good paranormal erotica is to make totally dangerous sex and plunging-off-a-cliff romance a vicarious possibility for the reader.
I remember seeing Frank Langella’s Draculaback in the day and thinking, as I panted my way through the horribly delicious scene in which Dracula seduces Lucy, that even with the terrible truth of what the end result of his sexy attentiveness to her will be, who could possibly have refused, even if they hadn’t been under his thrall? He was a gentleman, he was charming and mysterious, he was hypnotic, he was gorgeous, he was terrifying. And I wanted him!
In paranormal erotica, one good fuck may be all you ever get, but it will damn well be worth it! Give us a demon, whose power is lust, whose sensuality is deadly, a vampire who is terrified he may just rip his lover’s throat out in his passion, a succubus who can bring her lover to exquisite ecstasy but at the risk of stealing his life force. Oh yes! Bring it on! While the beautiful, unsuspecting couple in a horror film have wild, ecstatic sex just before their hearts are ripped still beating from their chest, by the villain, in paranormal erotica and romance, that edge of ecstasy, that infatuation that may well be deadly is drawn out to a thin, dangerous edge and, as readers, we get to ride the edge, wondering if there will be pleasure or death or both. I get goose bumps just thinking about that moment when le petit mort could very easily end in the real thing!
I love the paranormal contrast of light and darkness and the way the two are blended. After all there’s only awareness of one in the presence of the other. I think the balance of fear and lust and the highlighting of flaws through otherness, done well, is the making of a good paranormal romance. Conflict is the main ingredient of any good story, and when a story is paranormal, there is, by the nature of the beast, or the witchJmore room for more conflict. And that’s a big part of the fun. Wanting what we know is very bad for us while at the same time not trusting what might be good for us keeps us on that delicious edge that, in every good story, pulls us forward, makes us fantasize and lust and speculate. And seeing the characters in a paranormal novel get exactly that, exactly the thing that both attracts them and terrifies them is what makes paranormal so outrageously hot.