It's my pleasure to welcome Susan Sey back to the Romance Dish today. If you read any of Susan's posts while she was blogging at the Romance Bandits, then you already know she writes with humor and heart. If you've picked up any of her books, you're also familiar with her quirky characters, out of the norm settings, sweet and sexy romance, and touch of suspense. In Picture Me and You, she also proves herself a master of the dysfunctional unit. Only this time, it's not just a family. It's the whole darn town. As this is the first book in a planned trilogy - and I couldn't put it down - I can hardly wait to see what she brings us next!
Take it away, Susan!
I’m deeply in love with HAMILTON these days.
Surely you’ve heard of it? It’s Lin-Manuel Miranda’s retelling of founding father Alexander Hamilton’s story through a musical mash-up of Broadway and hiphop. Nominated for a record 16 Tonys, it’s infectious, ingenious and educational. (It isn’t just history, either. At one point, we get into the crucial importance comma placement. Kid you not.) It’s also a master’s class in characterization.
Obviously, Alexander Hamilton is our hero here. He’s a driven genius, creating everything from the Coast Guard to America’s banking system. He was also an arrogant, social-climbing philanderer, despised by both Thomas Jefferson AND John Adams, who could agree on nothing, it seems, except that Hamilton was a jerk.
Aaron Burr is our villain. Their lives run along very parallel tracks -- both were brilliant, ambitious, and politically inclined orphans. But where Burr respects the political machine, plays within its rules and loses, Hamilton breaks every rule, writes his own ticket and wins. He does everything wrong but always manages to win, and by the time these two get down to dueling, you can see exactly why Burr shoots. It breaks your heart, but you get why he does it. Why you might, too, in his shoes.
By the time Lin-Manuel Miranda is done with us, we know in our bones that Hamilton was no hero and Burr was no villain. They were just two really strong, really different men who were standing in each other’s way and neither one knew how to yield. So who’s the hero? It depends entirely on whose point of view you’re in.
It’s a beautifully written lesson in compassion, yes, but it’s also a lesson to writers everywhere. It’s easy to hate faceless evil-doers, but it’s just as easy to forget them. You want to write a story that grabs people by the throats, shatters their hearts and leaves them thanking you for the privilege? Write a rich, fully-drawn, well-motivated villain, then a hero who lives up to the challenge.
I’m no Lin-Manuel Miranda, but I try really hard with my villains. I write dozens of scenes in their points of view, scenes I know I’ll have to cut eventually. But not a word is wasted because each moment I spend inside my villain’s head and heart is time I spend understanding that character, getting to know what drives them, who they are and who they’re desperate to be. And it only makes my hero that much stronger.
In my new book, PICTURE ME & YOU, the villain does some pretty awful stuff. Borderline unforgivable stuff. But by the time I’m done with him -- and it’s a trilogy, so be patient -- I’m hoping you’ll understand why. In fact, I’m hoping you’ll go one better and not only understand but forgive and -- maybe -- fall in love.
So tell me -- who’s the worst villain you ever forgave? Can you think of a character you initially hated with a grand passion but who eventually turned it around until you loved him? I desperately love a reformed bad boy, so shout them out! One lucky commenter will receive a copy of PICTURE ME & YOU, book one of my new Devil’s Kettle trilogy, in either print or for Kindle.Learn more about Susan and her books at her website.
The perfect wife…
All Addison Davis has ever wanted is a family of her own and a place to call home. So when the art world’s favorite bad boy paints her as a masterpiece, puts a ring on her finger and tucks her away in the gorgeous little lakeside hometown he made famous, she finally has everything she ever wanted. Everything except love.
The loyal brother…
Fire chief Jackson Davis knows his brother isn’t in love with the big-eyed waif he married. Diego might be enchanted with his angelic little muse now but he’s never loved anything more than his addictions. When those addictions leave Addy a painfully young widow, Jax can only watch while her precious heart shatters.
The secrets they keep…
But Addy inherited more from her late husband than a family, a hometown and the masterpiece she inspired. She inherited his secrets, too, but secrets don’t keep in Devil’s Kettle. When all is revealed, what bursts into flame between her and Jax is hot enough to burn down the whole town, forcing Addy to choose — will she protect the life she loves, or risk it all for the man who loves her?
Welcome to Devil’s Kettle.
Connect with her online at Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks for having me here at the Romance Dish today! Looking forward to hearing everybody's thoughts on villains & heroes!ReplyDelete
It's a pleasure to host you, Susan! I loved Picture Me and You! I can't wait to see what you do with the residents of Devil's Kettle next. By the end of the book there were some I wanted to hug, some I wanted to whack upside the head and a couple I would have been happy to toss off the cliff. You've sucked me in. Again! *grin*Delete
Then my work here is done! And if somebody doesn't get tossed off a cliff by book 3 (or at least into the Kettle) some fictional person will have to answer to me. Because you know what they say -- if you show them a gun in Act One, it better go off by Act Three. So if I show my readers a bottomless pit in Act One....Delete
The premise and first pages were so intriguing I went and bought it. I totally blame PJ for my busted bank account this week!!ReplyDelete
Ha! I apologize for your busted bank account -- hope it lives up to the hype, though! Would love to hear what you think when you finish it!Delete
I haven't read Picture Me and You yet, but it is on my Kindle. I look forward to reading it.ReplyDelete
Georgette Heyer was probably the first author who made me fall in love with a character with villainous qualities. The Duke of Avon is unforgettable. Patricia Veryan's Roland Fairleigh Mathieson is a favorite. Veryan redeems him in stages until he becomes the hero of The Dedicated Villain in the sixth and final book of her Golden Chronicles. Lisa Kleypas is a genius a redeeming bad boys and villains. I don't know if this kind of redemption is more common in historicals, but all the examples that first came to my mind are from that subgenre.
I think historicals are especially given to redeemed villains because the gender roles and classes were so defined. When one gender or class has SO much more power than another, there's a lot of opportunity for culturally sanctioned misbehavior. This creates a lot of room for personal growth & redemption, though.Delete
I know he's not actually a villain but I have always adored Wulfric, the final hero in Mary Balogh's SLIGHTLY series. He was so remote and cold and unknowable. It gave me all the feels to watch him warm up & unravel.
Susan, I love that Balogh still gives us glimpses of the warmer Wulfric in her later books. Jo Beverley did a similar thing with Rothgar in her Mallorens books--and her character actually predate Balogh's.Delete
Interesting explanation re historicals. I had not considered the social issues.
Mrs. Danvers from Rebecca is my favorite but I could never change my view of her at all.ReplyDelete
Yeah, some characters are just too scary to ever actually come to like. But we can certainly appreciate their scariness & what it brings to a story!Delete
Bill Sikes in Oliver Twist has my vote.ReplyDelete
Oh boy it's been YEARS since I read Oliver Twist. I'll have to give it a re-read!Delete
Joanna Bourne is amazingly good at that. Some of her villains could be heroes in a different setting/social class. I am thinking of Lazarus in particular.ReplyDelete
I'll have to check her out! I love multi-faceted villains!Delete
First thing that came to mind is Loki in Thor. How can you not end up liking Tom Hiddleston!!!ReplyDelete
Tom Hiddleston! Yeah, I'd suspend all kinds of disbelief for Tom Hiddleston. I loved him as Loki, too! I haven't seen the Captain America/Iron Man CIVIL WAR movie yet but I'm looking forward to it for exactly this reason -- complicated heroes and maybe-not-so-evil villains. Seems like comic books are really good at this kind of characterization, maybe because they're usually sagas? When you have a basically open-ended story, you have to keep your options open,too...Delete
Two come to mind immediately. First is Sebastian, Lord St.Vincent from Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas. Such a wonderful redeemed villain!ReplyDelete
Second is Adrik Wilder from Christina Dodd's Into the Shadow. I was two-thirds of the way into this book, loathed Adrik with a passion and had no flippin' clue how Dodd could possibly manage to redeem him but redeem him she did and brilliantly so!
I can't believe I've never read either of them! They're going on my TBR pile right now!Delete
Congratulations on the new series. Lisa Kleypas reformed Sebastian from a villain into a hero in Devil in Winter and Linda Howard made an assassin the hero in her book, Death Angel.ReplyDelete
I haven't read Death Angel yet but you have me intrigued.Delete
Oooh, I've read Death Angel but not Devil In Winter. (I know, I know. I'm the last person on the planet.) I know what I'll be reading this weekend! Thanks!Delete
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Severus Snape!!!! LOL :) it's all I could come up with right now. But I truly ended up feeling bad for him after his "villainous" portrayal in all the books/movies. Thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
Oh yes! YES. Snape. He's a perfect example. I can't wait for somebody to pull a WICKED on Harry Potter & retell that whole story from Snape's point of view. Wouldn't that be awesome?Delete
I have to say Severus Snape too. I course it helped that I also watched the movies & fell in love with Alan Rickman all over again.ReplyDelete
HI Susan! I can't wait to get my hands on your new book. I read your "money series " and really liked it...ReplyDelete