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The Legacy of Androva Series


 

“A place is only as good as the people in it.”

― Pittacus Lore

 

One of the things I love about writing fantasy is the world building, and location inspiration can be really helpful, especially when you find somewhere that resembles one of your imaginary settings. After I finished the Legacy of Androva with Connecting Magic (more than three years ago―time flies!), I wrote a blog post to say goodbye to three of the most memorable locations in the series. I thought I’d do the same for the Light Mage trilogy now that the third and final book is almost finished.

 

Most of the Androva series locations were entirely fictional, aside from the notable exceptions of Pompeii and Verulamium. In the Light Mage stories, it’s more of a blend, with key scenes in each book happening in real-life places (albeit from an imaginary perspective!). These places also feature on the books’ covers, and I’m going to focus on them for today’s post.

 

Have you ever visited a particular location just because it was in one of your favourite books? And if you could buy a ticket to absolutely anywhere, real or fictional, where would you go? I hope you enjoy the Light Mage extracts, and thank you very much for visiting my blog πŸ’•.

 

The Colosseum

Luca, the protagonist of Spell Tracker, is a seventeen-year-old gladiator when his final earthbound life comes to an end. He sacrifices himself to save the boy he loves, dying on the dusty floor of the arena with a sword in his chest and the cheers of the Roman mob ringing in his ears. That sacrifice marks the beginning of Luca’s life as a guardian, and it’s the catalyst for everything that follows. I visited the Colosseum in Rome ten years ago, and I was overwhelmed by the size and scale of its history. It was great to be able to use those memories as part of Luca’s story.

 

Here’s a short extract from the moment Luca goes back in time with Devin to the Colosseum.

 

***The roar of fifty thousand voices, the heat, and the smell were overwhelming. There was a sense of anticipation similar to the one created by the spectators at tryouts, but it was mixed with a thirst for blood and death, adding a disturbing undercurrent that even a non-guardian could feel. I experienced a few seconds of disorientation even though I knew what to expect. Get a grip, Luca. If you lose yourself, we’ll both be stuck here.

Devin held my hand so tightly I winced. I leaned into him as we sat down. “Give yourself a minute to adjust. I gave you a layer of protection from the worst of it.”

With his other hand he smoothed the toga he was now wearing and stared at his knees. After a couple of breaths his grip relaxed a little. “So,” he said in a low voice, “we’re in Rome, right? This is where you come from. It’s like a…” He raised his head. “Like a stadium. What happens here? Chariot racing or something? I can see some horses.”

“No. Not chariot racing. This isn’t the Circus Maximus. It’s the Colosseum. You’re about to watch a fight to the death.”***

 

Hampton Court Palace

At the beginning of Spell Mason, Devin and Luca are on the run, and Devin chooses Hampton Court Palace in the early sixteenth century as a hiding place. Tudor England is one of my favourite time periods, so I was happy to have an excuse to research it in more detail! Hampton Court isn’t too far from where I live, and although the palace is much bigger today than it was five hundred years ago, I was still able to get a sense of what it must have been like. Devin makes an unlikely friend at Hampton Court who turns out to be very important near the end of the story.

 

Here’s a short extract from the scene when Luca gives Devin a sword fighting lesson in the main courtyard.

 

***We followed the corridor, until we found a door to the courtyard. It was square shaped, the surrounding brickwork creating a geometric pattern. Decorative emblems appeared at regular intervals. “It would look better with a basketball hoop,” I said.

“You played yesterday,” said Luca.

“Yeah, and Sherbourne High lost. My reflexes need the practice.”

“Not basketball. But we could do something else.”

I looked around the empty courtyard. “Like what?”

Gladii,” he said, then frowned. “Non. Gladii sextus decimus seculum.”

A weight settled against my left hip, and I looked down to see that Luca had given us both swords. “Cool,” I said, grabbing the hilt with my right hand. The blade was thin and silver-colored, reflecting the sunlight in flashes as I took a few experimental swings.

“Do you have any idea what you’re doing?” asked Luca.

“No. Why? Do I look like I do?”

“Not remotely.”

“Stupid question, then.”

“It’s not,” he protested. “I haven’t studied sword fighting since the Colosseum. Techniques might be different now.”

“Oh. Of course.” I stopped waving the sword and looked at him. He was standing with his weight perfectly balanced, sword arm in front, the other arm lowered against his side as if it were holding a shield. His muscles were tense. Ready.

“You were a gladiator,” I said.

“Yes.”

“You’re probably going to kick my ass.”

“Yes.” He grinned.***

 

The Pyramids of Giza

The final book in the trilogy, Spell Master, reveals the origins of the earthbound dimension, and I decided to include a reference to the Seven Wonders of the World. Each of the seven High Council members was responsible for one of the Seven Wonders, and although it’s only a small part of the story, it really helped me to figure out the characters and their motivation. In this book, the magical dimensions are fighting an ancient curse, and a chamber beneath the Pyramids of Giza might hold the clue to beating it. I haven’t visited Egypt, so I had to rely on research and my imagination for this one!

 

Here’s a short extract from the scene when Luca and Devin discover the chamber.

 

***“I also want to visit the Pyramids of Giza. Now would be a good time because all the tourists will be watching the light show.”

“I hope you’re not suggesting we split up,” said Devin.

“No, of course I’m not. Besides, I might need your help. Remember what happened last time.”

He looped his arm through mine. “If you faint at my feet, Luca, I’ll try to catch you. But I’ll warn you now, you’re heavier than you look.”

“Nice to know that chivalry is alive and well,” I replied.

Devin laughed. “Pyramids of Giza,” he said, and the Greek island spun out of focus. When my vision cleared, we were standing on the north side of the Great Pyramid of Khufu. It rose above us, a massive wall of pale stone, well over four hundred feet tall, narrowing at its apex as if it were reaching to pull a star from the night sky. My magical core tightened with something like recognition. I felt a little lightheaded, but it was nowhere near as severe as what I’d experienced as Carrie Bennett.

“OK?” said Devin.

“Yeah, I’m good. You can let go,” I said. I put a hand to my chest. “We need to be underground. I can feel… It’s weird. Like magical gravity or something.”***



“The night of Samhain, when the barrier between the worlds is whisper-thin and when magic, old magic, sings its heady and sweet song to anyone who cares to hear it.”

― Carolyn MacCullough


As I look out of my window, the trees are turning red and gold, and the breeze has lost its summer warmth. The transition to autumn is magical, but there’s an undercurrent of darkness foreshadowing the winter to come. It makes sense that Hallowe’en celebrations are a blend of light and shadow.


In fact, Hallowe’en is more of a blend than I realised. This year, while I was figuring out my Hallowe’en reading choices, I researched a little of the history too, and I was surprised by what I discovered. I always thought Samhain and Hallowe’en were pretty much the same thing, but I was wrong. Samhain came first, and by a long way.


The ancient Celts celebrated the changing of the seasons with four festivals. Of these, Samhain was the most important, marking the end of the harvest before the new year officially began on 1st November. And because the division between worlds was believed to be at its thinnest, Samhain was also a time to remember the dead. Extra places were set at the dinner table to welcome home visiting ancestors. People dressed in costumes and masks to discourage unfriendly spirits, while offerings of food and drink were left out in the hopes of persuading those spirits not to make mischief. Huge bonfires were meant to mimic the sun and protect against the long winter.

Evidence that people honoured their ancestors at Samhain goes back thousands of years. The Mound of the Hostages, a passage tomb in Ireland, is even older than the Egyptian pyramids, and the passage inside is illuminated by the sun every year on the morning of Samhain. Can you imagine what it would be like to experience that particular sunrise? I created a fictional passage tomb for my ghostly villain in Connecting Magic, and I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to visit a real tomb on October 31st


Hallowe’en, or All Hallow’s Eve, didn’t line up with Samhain until the tenth century. It was Pope Gregory IV who moved All Hallow’s Day (also known as All Saints’ Day) to 1st November. Inevitably, elements of the pagan and Christian festivals were combined over time—a process that apparently accelerated in the nineteenth century, when many Irish families made new lives for themselves in North America. 


Here in the UK, the popularity of Hallowe’en insofar as it relates to trick-or-treating, decorations, and pumpkins has grown a lot in the last decade. Of course, we have Bonfire Night on 5th November too, so there’s a lot going on at this time of year! Perhaps I should write a blog post about the infamous Guy Fawkes in the future…

In the meantime, I’ve added three new (to me) books to my TBR list in recognition of Hallowe’en and Samhain. I should mention that I have a really low tolerance for horror, but I still wanted to choose something with a darker theme. I settled on poison. I hope you find the books interesting, and thank you very much for visiting my blog today πŸŽƒπŸ§‘πŸ–€.

 


The Confectioner's Guild, by Claire Luana

Tagline: A magic cupcake. A culinary killer. The perfect recipe for murder.

 

Description: Wren knew her sweet treats could work wonders, but she never knew they could work magic. She barely has time to wrap her head around the stunning revelation when the head of the prestigious Confectioner’s Guild falls down dead before her. Poisoned by her cupcake. Now facing murder charges in a magical world she doesn’t understand, Wren must discover the true killer or face the headsman’s axe…

 

Extract: A laugh escaped from him, surprisingly warm against the chill of the dark room. “Like I said, I’m here to take your confession.”

She felt hollow as the weight of her predicament settled upon her. There was no way out. No hope of convincing this man of the truth, no proving herself innocent. He knew the truth. And he was here to ensure it died with her.

 

Poison Study, by Maria V. Snyder

Tagline: How much is your life worth?

 

Description: In the territory of Ixia the government maintains control through the Code of Behaviour, forbidding the practice of magic, but danger lurks in mysterious places…

Imprisoned for murder, Yelena Zaltana’s punishment is death, until she is reprieved—for a price. As the Commander of Ixia’s food taster she will risk assassination from poison daily, a position she would be a fool to refuse…

 

Extract: Valek picked up the vial of antidote and twirled it in the sunlight. “You need a daily dose of this to stay alive. The antidote keeps the poison from killing you. As long as you show up each morning in my office, I will give you the antidote. Miss one morning, and you’ll be dead by the next. Commit a crime or an act of treason and you’ll be sent back to the dungeon until the poison takes you. I would avoid that fate, if I were you.”

 

Lies Like Poison, by Chelsea Pitcher

Tagline: The recipe for the perfect murder…

 

Description: Poppy, Lily, and Belladonna would do anything to protect their best friend, Raven. So when they discovered he was suffering abuse at the hands of his stepmother, they came up with a lethal plan to stop her from ever hurting Raven again. But someone got cold feet, the plot faded to a secret of the past, and the group fell apart.

 

Three years later, on the eve of Raven’s seventeenth birthday, his stepmother turns up dead and Belladonna is carted off to jail. Desperate to prove her innocence, Belle reaches out to her estranged friends, but who can she trust?

 

Extract: “I’ve already spoken with Lily,” Detective Medina said, as Jack touched the doorknob. She turned, slowly, to see him holding the Recipe for the Perfect Murder in his hand. “When I showed her the recipe, she started stammering about Belle’s innocence. I didn’t know the two were friends. What was their relationship like before Lily went to stay at the facility?”

Jack swallowed, a pang of fear shooting through her stomach. A pang of warning. “They hated each other.”


“Writing is…the imaginary friend you drink your tea with in the afternoon.”

—Ann Patchett

 

The easiest way to get to know someone is to talk to them, but you can’t really do that with a fictional character. At least, not in the traditional sense. In the imaginary sense, however, you absolutely can ☺. A fictional world has no boundaries, after all.

 

The Beyond Androva series will continue with Averine at the centre of the next story, and I can’t wait to write about her! However, I need to get a sense of who she is before I can do her character justice. With that in mind, I created a new character interview to discover a bit more about her personality and motivation.

 

If you had the chance to interview a character from one of your favourite books, would you take it? What would you ask them? Thank you very much for visiting my blog today πŸ’•.

 

Interview with Averine, set immediately after Lost in Magic

 

Me: Thanks for talking to me. I know you have plans with Kellan this evening.

Averine: (smiles politely) It’s fine. Whatever you need. The case against my father… Wait. How do you know I have plans with Kellan?

Me: Well, I wrote about them. At the end of Kellan’s story.

Averine: Story? (pauses) You mean his witness statement.

Me: Not exactly. I’m not with the Xytovian government.

Averine: Who are you then?

Me: I’m writing a series of books about Xytovia. There are three so far. Your story will be the fourth.

Averine: What? My story? (laughs) Are you serious?

Me: Yes. I’m looking forward to it because you’re my first non-magical protagonist.

Averine: Who on Xytovia would read a story about me?

Me: That’s a good question. No one, actually. The books are for a Terran audience approximately two thousand years in your future.

Averine: (shakes head) This is so weird. But I’m not going to tell you my life story. It would take too long, and anyway, I’m not sure I want to remember. I mean, about… (swallows) about losing my mother and everything.

Me: I’m sorry. I wish it hadn’t happened that way. But you—and Xytovia—wouldn’t be where you are right now without it.

Averine: Maybe not. (frowns) You seem to be very well informed.

Me: Yes and no. I’m up to date with everything so far. But in terms of what happens next—not so much. That’s where you come in.

Averine: And what if I don’t want to be your protagonist?

Me: I’d be disappointed. I think you’d be great. And I also think you deserve an adventure.

Averine: Well… I am looking forward to exploring Xytovia. But there’s no guarantee anything exciting would happen.

Me: I disagree. I doubt Vayl is the only territory with a secret. Besides, don’t you want to give readers the chance to find out who you really are? They’ve only seen you from Kellan’s point of view.

Averine: (eyes widen) What did he say about me?

Me: I don’t know if I should tell you. It wouldn’t be fair on Kellan. But…

Averine: Yes?

Me: Maybe you could swap stories when yours is written. That way, neither of you is at a disadvantage.

Averine: Hmmm. Maybe.

(Kellan pushes the door open abruptly, his scowl softening when he sees Averine)

Kellan: Here you are. What’s going on?

Averine: Another interview.

Kellan: Now? I thought we were done. (turns) Can’t this wait until tomorrow? Wait… I know you. You’re the storyteller. You visited me in the Dimension Cell. (smirks) I said you should give me my own book, and I was right, wasn’t I?

Averine: (rolls eyes)

Kellan: What?

Averine: Of course you would be the person who demanded your own book.

Kellan: (grins) Why stop at one book? Can’t there be a Kellan series?

Averine: OK, that’s it. I’ve made up my mind. I’ll be your next protagonist.

Kellan: What do you mean?

Me: It’s the reason I’m interviewing Averine. I want to tell her story.

Kellan: Oh. Well, that’s great. You’ll be great. Obviously.

Averine: Good. It’s decided then.

Me: You know, I’ll need to give readers some background. The majority of Kellan’s story took place after he escaped the cell. So, I was thinking that Averine could tell the part about when the two of you first met.

Kellan: That’s not a good—

Averine: I’d love to.

(silence)

Kellan: You hated me.

Averine: I didn’t hate you.

Kellan: You said if kissing me would cure you of mage-sickness, you’d rather die.

Averine: I suppose I did say that. (smiles sweetly) But I discovered that underneath your arrogant exterior, you’re actually an adorable little xyleander blossom.

Kellan: (groans) Adorable? Xytovia help me, that’s even worse. Storyteller, you have to stop her. I’ve got a reputation to maintain.

Me: I think it’s important that readers see the real you, Kellan. And Averine knows you better than anyone.

Averine: (laughs) I like you, Storyteller.

Kellan: I give up. Will you at least let me read it before anyone else?

Averine: You can read it. As long you don’t expect me to change anything, and as long as I can read your story too.

Kellan: OK. But you should know I said only good things about you.

Averine: Thank you. You’re adorable.

Kellan: (glares)

Me: (hastily) I think this is a good moment to wrap up the interview. Averine and Kellan will return in the fourth Beyond Androva book. Thank you for reading!


 

“Truly, there is magic in fairy tales. For it takes but a simply-uttered 'Once upon a time...' to allure and spellbind an audience.”

—Richelle E. Goodrich

 

The term “fairy tale” or “conte de fΓ©es” was first used by French writer Countess d’Aulnoy at the end of the seventeenth century. “Once upon a time” is even older and can be traced back to an English poem from 1380! Of course, short stories based on myths and folklore existed long before people started to call them fairy tales, and they continue to evolve as new writers reinvent the characters and their circumstances.

 

Last year I wrote a blog post about Beauty and the Beast retellings. It was the first time I’d used a fairy tale as the basis for my reading choices, and I really enjoyed both the research and the reading. With that in mind, I repeated the exercise this week with a different fairy tale. I chose Rapunzel, partly because I’ve always loved the film Tangled and partly because I was curious—it’s a less mainstream fairy tale and arguably more difficult to reimagine.

 

The earliest version of the story, Petrosinella, is from 1634. Persinette followed in 1698, and the Brothers Grimm published Rapunzel in 1812. The story begins with the theft of some special salad leaves from a witch’s garden to save the life of the main character’s mother. In fact, the names Petrosinella and Persinette came from the Italian and French words for parsley! Most people are familiar with what follows: the tall tower, the long hair, the handsome prince, the witch’s revenge, and the main character’s magical tears.

 

Once again, the research was a lot of fun, and I’m already looking forward to exploring a new fairy tale in the future. I hope you find my choices interesting, and thank you very much for visiting my blog today πŸ’•.

 

** Writing update: Further to my previous post about villains, I’ve written prologues for both new books, and now I feel like I should apologise to my characters for what they’re about to face! **

 

The Fairest of Them All, by Carolyn Turgeon Amazon US

 

What if Rapunzel was Snow White’s evil stepmother? In this kingdom, only one fairy tale can end with happily ever after.

 

I love descriptions that begin with “What if…?” 

I also like the idea of bringing two fairy tales together and exploring what happens to Rapunzel after she marries her prince. Then I read the prologue, and I was hooked. I can’t resist a sympathetic and complicated villain.

 

Prologue (extract)

I was the girl with the long long hair, trapped in the tower. You have no doubt heard of me. As a young woman I was very famous for those tresses, even though I lived in the middle of the woods and had never been to court, not for a feast or a wedding or a matter of law.

[…]

Poets and troubadours sang of my beauty then.

It was sorcery, that hair. Sometimes now I wonder if things would have been different, had I been plain.

It is a hard thing, not being that girl any longer. Even as I sit here, I cannot help but turn toward the mirror and ask the question I have asked a thousand times before:

“Who is the fairest of them all?”

The mirror shifts. The glass moves back and forth, like water. And then my image disappears, until a voice, like a memory, or something from my bones and skin, gives me the same answer it always does now:

She is.”

I turn back to the parchment in front of me and try to ignore the ache inside. The apple waits on the table next to me, gleaming with poison. All that’s left to do is write it down, everything that happened, so that there will still be some record in this world.

 

The Witch’s Tower, by Tamara Grantham Amazon US

 

Gothel is a witch. Punished for the actions of her mother, her choice is simple: either she stands guard over Princess Rapunzel—or she dies.

 

This caught my eye because the story is told from Gothel’s POV, and she’s not the villain from the original story. Rapunzel’s father, the king, became a powerful sorcerer by stealing from Aethel, Gothel’s mother. Aethel took her revenge by cursing Rapunzel. Rapunzel can only be freed by a prince of noble heart and some special, heavily-guarded magical shears. Oh, and the prince also has to kill Gothel, the innocent witch forced to guard Rapunzel. As if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, what happens if Gothel and the prince fall for each other along the way? I can’t wait to find out... Here’s a short extract from the beginning of the book.

 

“My name is Prince Merek Duc’Line.”

“You’re the king’s son?”

He nodded.

My stomach knotted. A prince? Could he be the one? If he was, then I should’ve fought him off. I should’ve kept him as far away from the tower as possible. There was a foretelling that a prince of noble blood would free the princess and kill the witch. Kill me.

 

With Blossoms Gold, by Hayden Ward Amazon US 

 

She never wanted to leave the tower. He never wanted to rule the country. But when war breaks out, this reckless prince and reclusive maiden are faced with overcoming their deepest fears in order to determine not only their own fate, but that of their entire country.

 

I was intrigued by a Rapunzel who doesn’t want to be rescued, and the Italian setting, and a prince with his own character development challenges. Plus the main character’s name is Nella, short for Petrosinella—just like the original version of the story πŸ˜€. Here’s a short extract of some dialogue between Nella and Prince Benedict about a third of the way through the book.

 

“And do you—that is, have you any betrothals currently?” she asked.

He laughed. “I do seem to go through them at an alarming rate, don’t I?”

“Well, you did when I was a child. I think there were five before I reached the age of twelve.”

“Oh, probably at least eight or nine.” He grinned. “No, not currently. I seem to have a bit of bad luck with that.”

Nella was horrified to find herself glad. Jealousy was a sign of attachment. Or worse. “Well, I wish you all the best in that, then.” She hated saying the words, and she hated that she hated it.

Benedict seemed not to notice. “Do you ever hope of getting married?”

[…]

He looked at her and grinned. “I suppose being tethered to a man for the rest of your life makes you shudder.”

“Until the rest of his life,” she corrected, not able to restrain a smirk.

 

My Name is Rapunzel, by K. C. Hilton Amazon US 

 

My tale has been told again and again, and I’ve heard each one. Except for my hair, I barely recognize the pitiful renditions. Muddled versions, crafted to entertain laughing children… but the children wouldn’t have laughed if they’d known the real story. It wasn’t their fault. They didn’t know the truth. Nobody did. My name is Rapunzel. I will tell you my story. I will tell you the truth.

 

The first person POV in the description works really well, and it sets the scene for a fresh take on the story with a strong protagonist. Anything could happen following an introduction like that!

 

Prologue (extract)

I peered out my window, waiting for the right moment. There. The sun dropped below the horizon, casting the castle grounds into darkness.

Now!

I tied the corners of my blanket together into a knot then slung the makeshift sack over my shoulder. I scurried to the door. Looking back was not an option.

I had thirty minutes, maximum. That’s all I had between the setting of the sun and when the dragon would expect to see the candlelight flicker in my window, my daily assurance to him of my presence in the castle. If he didn’t see that glow from my tower…

 

Rapunzel Untangled, by Cindy C. Bennett Amazon US 

 

Rapunzel is not your average teenager. For one thing, she has a serious illness that keeps her inside the mysterious Gothel Mansion. And for another, her hair is fifteen feet long. Not to mention that she’s also the key to ultimately saving the world from certain destruction.

 

I had to include a retelling with a contemporary setting, and Rapunzel Untangled is my choice. At the beginning of the story, Rapunzel is reluctantly accepting of her captivity because she’s been told she has an immunodeficiency. But she also has a computer with internet access, and one day she discovers social media. She connects with “Fab Fane Flannigan” from the local high school, and her perspective soon begins to shift. I’m interested to know Fane’s backstory in this version and his real name. Here’s a short extract from one of Rapunzel’s and Fane’s early conversations.

 

Rapunzel closed her eyes tightly, thinking, debating. Then, before she could change her mind, she typed:

Rapunzel

There was nothing but her flashing cursor, then

Rapunzel? That’s your name?

Yes.

You’re not kidding around?

No.

Unusual. Rapunzel. Never heard of it. I like it.

Please don’t try to guess my last name.

Okay, you win. For now. Rapunzel.



 

“Maybe it’s the very presence of one thing—light or darkness—that necessitates the existence of the other.”

— Jessica Shirvington

 

Heroes and villains are typically defined in opposition. The hero becomes a hero because the villain gives them a reason to do something heroic. And villains make things interesting. They push other characters out of their comfort zones, forcing them to discover things that would otherwise remain hidden. Without conflict, there would be no story.

 

I’m at the beginning of a new book right now, and I find myself in need of a villain. When it comes to the writing process, I’m not a natural planner (unfortunately!) which means I discover each story one chapter at a time. But it helps if I have something to write toward, and that’s why I try to figure out the villain first.

 

Taking my most recent book as an example, Lost in Magic’s prologue introduces Averine and her father. I knew Averine’s father would be the villain Kellan ultimately had to face. However, I didn’t know the villain’s identity or how Kellan’s and Averine’s paths could possibly cross. Wanting to know the answer motivated me to keep writing.

 

It got me to wondering about the key ingredients that make for an interesting fictional villain. Of course, I’m not an expert, and I can only speak from my own experience, but my list includes the following four things:

 

A meaningful motive

What’s the villain’s endgame, and why are they pursuing it in the first place? In their eyes, their choices should be defensible. They are the protagonist of their own story, with an agenda that lends a certain logic to those choices, even if it doesn’t excuse them.

 

“I need to know what happened, but she can’t tell me. She’s too damaged. And if she could? Would it make a difference? Would I understand? Would I understand the depth of grief and fear that could’ve led her to take my entire life away from me?”

— Everything, Everything, Nicola Yoon

 

Hard to beat

Every hero deserves a worthy opponent, and a hard-won victory is a lot more satisfying. If the villain is so powerful that you can’t imagine how on earth the hero can ever beat them, then it sets the scene for something unpredictable and engaging.

 

“Rhen coughs again, wetly, and presses his forehead to the ground. He’s coughed up enough blood that a dark pool sits beneath his jaw. […] ‘Make your request,’ says Lilith. ‘I grow bored, girl. Rhen knows what happens when I grow bored.’ She jerks his head back and he makes a sound I never want to hear again.”

— A Curse so Dark and Lonely, Brigid Kemmerer

 

Conviction

Determined villains drive the story. The stakes are raised when the audience knows a change of heart is impossible.

 

“The Darkling would not hesitate. He would not grieve. His darkness would consume the world, and he would never waver.”

— Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo

 

Making it personal

When there’s a heartfelt connection of some kind between the villain and the hero—be it family, or perhaps a former friendship, or a romance that ended badly—everything is more complicated. It gives the villain’s motive an extra edge, and it really puts the hero’s conviction to the test.

 

“Cinder studied her aunt. […] Her trembling lip and defeated shoulders. She was too exhausted for even her glamour. Too weak to fight anymore. A shock of pity stole through her. This miserable, awful woman still had no idea what it meant to be truly beautiful, or truly loved. Cinder doubted she ever would.”

— Winter (The Lunar Chronicles), Marissa Meyer

 

What makes for a memorable villain in your opinion? Would your list be different from mine? A great villain sets the stage for the hero to shine. A lot of my favourite books and movies became my favourites because of the villains as much as the heroes. And now I’m off to write a new prologue so I can discover another villain for my characters to face! Thank you very much for visiting my blog today πŸ’•.



Ode to Enchanted Light

Under the trees

light has dropped from the top of the sky,

light

like a green

latticework of branches,

shining

on every leaf,

drifting down like clean

white sand.

 

A cicada sends

its sawing song

high into the empty air.

 

The world is

a glass overflowing

with water.

     Pablo Neruda

 

I have a small update about the Light Mage books, which gives me an excuse to post this beautiful poem about the magic of light. Because I already shared Spell Tracker from start to finish on this blog, I can’t put it into Kindle Unlimited the way I have with all of the Androva books, so I decided to make Spell Tracker and Spell Mason free to download in other sales channels (per the universal book links below).

 

Spell Tracker

 

Spell Mason

 

The final book in the trilogy, Spell Master, is likely to be the next story I write, but I’m really excited to continue the Beyond Androva series too. Perhaps I’ll swap back and forth between them so I don’t have to choose! Thank you for visiting my blog today, and I hope you liked the poem πŸ’•.