Risingshadow has the honour of publishing a guest post by Tim Lebbon.
Information about Tim Lebbon:
Tim Lebbon is the New York Times bestselling author of the movie novelizations of 30 Days of Night and The Cabin in the Woods, and of the Alien-Predator trilogy “The Rage War”. He has also written many critically acclaimed horror and dark fantasy novels, including Coldbrook and The Silence. Tim has won four British Fantasy Awards, a Bram Stoker Award, a Shocker, a Tombstone and been a finalist for the International Horror Guild and World Fantasy Awards.
Click here to visit his official website.
Information about Relics:
Publisher: Titan Books
Publishing date: 21 March 2017
Beneath the surface of our world, mythological creatures and their artifacts still exist - corrupt people pay fortunes for a sliver of dragon bone, a basilisk's scale, or an angel's wing. Angela Gough is an American criminology student in London whose fiancé Vince disappears, and her investigation leads her into a black market specializing in arcane relics. She meets Mary Rock, a criminal of mythic status who also wants to find Vince... to kill him. Angela and a growing team of adventurers must stop this horrific trade, yet they face a growing menace as the hunted creatures begin to fight back.
GUEST POST: Creating a good bad guy (Fat Frederick Meloy) by Tim Lebbon
It's an inescapable truth that the bad guys are usually more interesting. We all like to think we're essentially 'good' (at least I do), but when it comes to fiction, who really wants to read about someone who never does anything wrong? Where's the conflict, where's the journey, where's the tension? Where's the sex and violence? This is horror, after all...
Actually, it's very rare that I write a character who is truly good or competely bad. Partly that's because these sorts of people don't exist in real life. When I was a kid, I'd cook ants with a magnifiying glass, after all. And I always find it far more interesting writing about characters who have shades of light and dark, good intentions but hidden secrets.
In Relics, there are several people––and creatures–– like this, but Fat Frederick Meloy is my favourite. On the face of it he's a Bad Dude with no redeeming features. He's a London gangster, a brutal man using legitimate businesses as a front to his criminal empire. He's someone that the police warn people about. And to begin with, even before we meet him, I build a picture of a true monster, with hints at real brutality in his background––stories which might be true or might not––and a reputation that Hannibal Lecter would be proud of. He's a Bad Man.
It's important with a character like this to build a backstory. It increases tension and makes them feel like a rounded, functioning character even before they're introduced in the book. They have a background, a history, a life, and then we look into that life and spend a few days with them. The idea that they lived and existed before the events of the books––and, if they survive, they'll continue past its end––will hopefully make the reader feel that they've been allowed a brief glimpse into someone else's life. You don't need a massive, deep history, just a few hints will do. But they need to be relevant.
As I said before, very few people are one hundred percent bad, and even Fat Frederick Meloy has his softer side. I don't want to say too much about the book, or Fat Frederick Meloy, because that would spoil things for the readers. But it was important for me to counter dreadful, terrifying character traits or exploits with others that made him feel almost human. Vulnerable. Even childlike. The more you know about Meloy, the more you will hopefully empathise with him.
Those rumours about him? Who knows. Maybe they're true, maybe not. He's a master of manipulation, and sometimes stories like that can benefit a man in his position and line of work, make people afraid of him when he needs them to be. It could be that he planted those rumours himself. Or it could be they're true.
And that's another way of creating a good bad guy. As well as hints at a darker, wider history, you introduce doubt, so that when he's acting with bravery or good sense the reader will hopefully think, See, he's not such a bad guy after all. Make the reader love your bad dude, and he or she can get away with anything.
If it's done really well, you actually end up rooting for the bad guy. Who really wanted Vic Mackey in The Shield to be taken down for his crimes and deceptions? Do you really want the murdering, raping, pillaging Vikings to meet a violent end and find their comeuppance? Or to mention Hannibal Lector again ... well, he's so intelligent and charismatic, you can almost forgive him the odd culinary quirk.
So I hope you enjoy meeting Fat Frederick Meloy. Just remember ... never call him Fat Freddie.