July #InkRipples: Heroes and Villains

A quick side note before I get into a favorite topic of mine. My alter ego, LA Dragoni, is releasing a paranormal romance for the adults among us on August 1st. I’m coordinating a blog and social media tour for the release week (July 31 – August 5), complete with a rafflecopter giveaway. If you can help, please sign up here:
The cover reveal is happening all over the internet this week. Please hop over to my Facebook page  to visit the lovely sites showing off the stunning cover for me.

Now, let me ask you, hero or villain?

If any of you have read my Super Villain Academy series, you might garner where I stand of the topic of heroes and villains.

We are all both a hero and a villain. All of us.

And we need to be.

If we were all only virtuous and brave, there would be no inspiration to improve. There would be no room for us to get better. Plus, who would we be friends with? “What cause do you support?” you’d ask a stranger. “Are there any left that we haven’t fixed?” There would be no need to save children from child abuse or women from oppression, because we’d all be impossibly good. The only bad we’d have to fight would be nature born. We’d concentrate our good efforts on fixing cleft palettes and curing cancer and eventually have to concentrate on things like toenail fungus and sun burn prevention. And you wouldn’t be alone if you just pictured this:

Sure, we’d be good – good for nothing that is.

And if we were all only malicious? Evil-doers? Well, we wouldn’t be around anymore because we’d have taken each other – and eventually ourselves – out of the equation.

Writing King of Bad, book one in my Super Villain Academy series, was an eye opener for me. Writing a main character who is inherently bad isn’t exactly the easiest way to attract readers, so I had to make my main villain complex. Sure he’s bad. He’s a pyromaniac, disrespectful, a budding womanizer, and thwarts authority, but when he’s recruited to Super Villain Academy, he learns that he isn’t as bad as most. Or that he’s bad in a different way. Turns out the manners his mother has been pounding into him his whole life are suddenly making an unfortunate appearance and his ‘pleases’ and ‘thank yous’ have identified him as an outcast – possibly even a…hero!

There are supporting characters in the book/series with misleading personality traits meant to make you think they are one thing (villain/hero) when in truth, they are actually the opposite. I tried to keep readers guessing (subtly at least) on purpose. As a matter of fact through out the three+ years I promoted the release of each book, I always asked the reader the question Hero or Villain? because I want readers to consider their own heroic and villainous traits.

Book characters should be as complex as real life people. They should have good traits and bad. Strengths and weaknesses. Endearing mannerisms and annoying ones. There should be stuff they aren’t sure of about themselves – where do I stand on politics? Abortion? Death penalty? And things they are shocked or embarrassed to learn about themselves – Oh my God, I’m a bigot. I need to change that.

If you’ve ever wondered how I wrote an entire series with villains as the main characters, you should know it’s because I gave each of them redeeming qualities as well. Vulnerabilities. They learned. They changed. They defined who they are and what their goals are. Not all of them made good choices – or the same choice you would have made, but hopefully in the end, you understood why they made the choices they made.

So, again I’ll ask you, dear reader: hero or villain?

#Inkripples is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the first Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.


  1. Hi Kai, Indeed you and I said nearly the same thing in our heroes and villains post. So much goes into the development of characters that, as you said, who is the hero and who is the victim gets very murky. ,Wouldn't it be fun to write a book not knowing till the end. Is that what you did? If so, that must be on my to be read list!

    1. Great minds...ha ha! No, I knew the whole time, but hopefully I keep the reader guessing and maybe even rooting for both outcomes from time to time - because I think we all appreciate a good bad guy - or is it a bad good guy? Hmmm.

  2. I watched a film once (a foreign one and I can't think of the name of it), but it tells this story and you get completely caught up in it from the MC's perspective. Then it flips and tells it from the other "villain's" perspective and it's a completely different story. At the end you're left without really knowing who was the real good/bad guy. I loved it, and really enjoy the concept of being unsure about who is actually a villain or hero--or really, who is both :)

  3. Replies
    1. Funny, in my series, the Supers are forced to choose and there are some that feel the same as you...oh, the dilemma!

  4. Give me a villain with a complex set of traits, and I'm in heaven. Heroes need to have their downfalls too, and I love it when you get the villain who transitions to a hero. Seriously. That's my favorite arc.

    1. Um...I can't comment, because it would prove spoilery to the series, so I'll just thank you for stopping in. :)

  5. Lately I've been drawn to villains...or at least heroes that have a dark side to them.

  6. Being a hero or villain or a combination of both does make for great characters. I need to think about this more. I think my good guys need a little more villain in them.


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