Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life

Heroes and Villains

We talk a lot about our heroes – and rightly so. But just for a moment, I’d like to put the spotlight on villains, because without them – well maybe without them, our heroes wouldn’t be quite the same.

So what makes a villain? My dictionary tells me that a villain is someone who ‘harms others’. That’s a good start but it’s not the whole story. Another definition ‘at odds with the hero’ works better for me, because it touches on the relationship between hero and villain.  But in the final analysis, I think that villainy is all about motive.  A villain is someone who intends to do harm.

Medical Romance isn’t generally noted for its villains.  They’re there, for sure, the results of their actions stamped on the hero and heroine’s hearts and minds, but as characters they tend not to get much space on the page.  It seems to me that most stories need a villain in some form though, whether lurking nastily in the background or right there in the thick of the action.  Perhaps the remote, faceless villains are all the more sinister – as we see them only through the effect that they have on others.

Just as no hero or heroine is perfect, then a villain must also have some redeeming characteristics.  But some kind of villain, whether appearing in the form of a group of people, a situation that’s just plain wrong, or a single character, is one of the catalysts that any hero (or heroine) needs to test their mettle.  And in some stories, a villain turns out to be the star of the show – think back to Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham, to Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly, or Glen Close as Cruella de Vil.

So do you have any nominations for the list of larger than life villains that we love to hate?  Or any thoughts about writing villains, or the kinds of villains that you want to read?  I’d love to hear them.

And finally, I can’t resist showing you my latest hero.  ‘Doctor on Her Doorstep’ is in the shops in the UK this month and I’ve been sneaking in to bookshops at every opportunity and scanning the shelves to see if it’s there.  Gives me such a thrill to see it!

Annie x

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13 thoughts on “Heroes and Villains”

  1. Hi Annie – when I think of villans I always think of Dr Who.
    The Daleks. The Cybermen.
    Scared the willies out of me as a kid!

    1. Thanks, Amy – great choice! The Daleks are such wonderful villains. It’s amazing to think that whole generations of kids have been scared behind the sofa by creatures with sink plungers on their fronts, who wheeled themselves around on castors. Just goes to show the power of a brilliant idea when combined with fertile imaginations. 🙂

  2. FF here. When I think of villains, I think of science fiction. There are some bloody-minded villians in science fiction.

    1. HI FF. Yes, so many great sci-fi villains around. I suppose having the option to add a few snaking tendrils and unusual powers gives writers and film makers a head start when it comes to villainy. Thanks for dropping by.

  3. Hi Annie

    I can only think of Dracula! I have to admit I always found him kind of sexy in a scary way. Perhaps that’s why the vampire novels are so popular at the moment.

    1. Hi Anne. Ah, Dracula! Such a charismatic villain that he seems to have turned into a hero these days. (Although I seem to remember that Bram Stoker describes Dracula as having bad breath. One thing that seems to have been modified during the course of vampire rehabilitation, thank goodness.)

      Perhaps someone will be able to correct me on this, but I can’t think of another villain who has inspired such a range of different characters – from monsters to tortured heroes and even the ‘child’ vampire in the film ‘Let the Right one In’.

    1. Thanks Anon – another great addition for the list. The Phantom has it all, doesn’t he? An element of mystery, a streak of nobility and a tragic story, to go with his acts of villainy.

  4. Hi Annie!
    I love your new book cover. I think, in Medical Romance, the villain can often be a disease or illness. However regarding your question of the villains we love – well, if I recall Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and Angel) both started out as villains, but were so darn sexy they both became twisted heroes. Right?

    It is safe to have a crush on a TV or Movie villain, but in real life with that kind of person, well let’s just say reality would come crashing down very quickly!

    1. Good point, Lynne! One of the reasons I feel so very privileged to be writing Medical Romance is that the fight which our heroes and heroines wage, against disease and illness, is something that touches all of our lives in one way or another.

      Angel and Spike really were two great villains, weren’t they? They definitely get a place on the list as twisted heroes. As you say, though, just as long as they stay safely on the TV screen 🙂

      1. Do you think Mr. D’Arcy could be seen initially as a verbal villain as he is presented as such a snob. If so, it was pretty amazing that when Colin Firth played the part and emerged in a wet shirt from the water, women shrieked and fainted in the cinemas. Just shows our weakness for a bad lad…or was it just Colin that did it, I wonder.
        Btw, Annie, I just loved your latest, Doctor on her doorstep – no villain there but just as appealing. Keep us posted about any new books coming up…please…
        Ariadne

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