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Monday, August 31, 2015

Top Ten All Time Favorite Book Villians with Miranda Stork

Top 10 List

There are so many choices to make for what kind of Top 10 List to do, that this took me quite a while! But eventually, I’ve decided to do a Top 10 List of my all-time favourite book villains, as they are my favourite character to write about. In ‘Conner’, the lines are blurred between who is the villain and who is not, so it’s always entertaining to see who wins through. So, without further ado, here are my Top 10 favourite book villains;

10. Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights
There’s an argument that Heathcliff isn’t always a villain – he’s maybe the villain on this list who is most a product of his circumstances. He is a tortured soul, thanks to Catherine, but I just can’t forgive how he later twists Catherine’s daughter into a cold, distant person like himself. But, there’s something of the hero in him at the start of the book, so I can’t condemn him completely as a villain.

9. Marquise de Merteuil from Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Seductive, witty and charming, the Marquise also plots what is a horrific downfall in a young woman’s life, ending with her eventual disgrace, the death of Valmont, and the Marquise’s own disgrace. There’s a calculated, cold edge to her words in the book (which is made up of letters between the two main characters) that comes through even in her charming moments, and always leaves me with a shudder along my spine.

8. O'Brien from Nineteen Eighty-Four
A villain who lives up to the backstabbing nature of one, O’Brien is first portrayed as a good person, one rebelling against the Inner Party, when in fact, he’s completely on their side. With a determined calculation, he easily weaves Winston and Julia into their own demise, eventually ending in breaking Winston’s spirit. And what could be more evil than breaking down the inner psyche of a person?

7. Cruella de Vil from The Hundred and One Dalmatians
This woman was the stuff of nightmares for me as a child. Surely there can’t be anything more evil than seeing puppies, and instead of wanting to cuddle them, wondering if you can get matching gloves out of them after making the coat? Aside from her obvious cruelty and nastiness to those around her, Cruella just can’t be forgiven for wanting to commit a monstrous act against innocent animals.

6. Long John Silver from Treasure Island
A mixture of father-figure and cutthroat pirate, this is another character who flits that line between good guy and bad guy. There’s something likeable about him at the start of the book; taking a young boy under his wing, doling out worldly advice while whistling down mast-lines. But in the end, like all the characters on this list, he shows a darker side and shows that bad guys finish last.

5. Patrick Batemen from American Psycho
Here’s a villain…who might not be a villain. We have no idea, thanks to the psychotic mind-set and hallucinations that Patrick suffers from, but there’s no doubt that his mind is at least villainous. A shallow, modern version of a villain, this character brings to light all the bad traits that most of us have at one point or another experienced – greed, envy, the list goes on.

4. Moriarty from The Final Problem by Arthur Conan Doyle
No list would be complete without the ‘Napoleon of crime’. The somewhat chilling aspect of Moriarty is that he was based off real-life villains (most notably Adam Worth), giving him an edge of something we might see every day on the news. This is a criminal mastermind, who while an absolute bad guy, you can’t help but admire for his intelligence and skill. Although he actually only appears in one book, you can’t mention Sherlock Holmes without remembering this nemesis.

3. Mr Hyde from The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
What I love most about this villain is that while he actually has a physical appearance in the novel, he is also a clever metaphor for the duality of all people – a ‘good’ side and a ‘bad’ side. Over the course of the novel, Dr Jekyll actually tries to cease becoming Mr Hyde, but his efforts are fruitless, again showing how difficult it is to stop being a monster once you become one. A great villain in a great book, and one of the best images to describe humanity.

2. Bill Sykes from Oliver Twist
The drunk, abusive, murderer of prostitutes-with-a-heart-of-gold only misses out being number one on this list by one place. This villain gets a scathing description in Dickens’ novel, and there’s little to no redeeming features about him. A gritty look at the actual kinds of people who hung out in dark alleyways during the Victorian period, he’s a villain that reminds us of a gloomy and frightening past.

1. Claudius from Hamlet
Let’s see…murders his own brother by poison to gain a throne, then marries his brother’s widow and then plots to murder his nephew. That’s pretty damn evil. The unfurling of this villain throughout Shakespeare’s play starts with him shown as a pretty decent king – until Hamlet’s ghost appears. His motives become clear, and his only remorse is private, sealing his fate. His villainy also famously ends in pretty much everyone but a dog called Tom and a maid picking berries in the garden ending up dead, as the poison gets a thorough splashing over young Hamlet and his mother.

So there’s my list! Even as I wrote this, I thought of a lot more, and I’m not even decided on the positioning of each one. So who have I missed out that you would put in the list? Who are your greatest book villains?

The Athol Trilogy
Book 1
Miranda Stork

Genre: Paranormal
Publisher: Isara Press
Date of Publication: April 19th, 2012

ISBN: 978-1482795585
ASIN: B007VZO792

Number of pages: 297
Word Count: 80,924

Cover Artist: Miranda Stork

Book Description:

Erin is a young psychologist, with no time for anything but her work, and unable to remember anything about her past. She leads an uneventful life, but a lonely one, in which she secretly wishes for a soulmate...

Conner is an unusual patient who approaches her, thrusting her into a strange world of darkness that runs beneath our own. He believes himself to be a creature of legend-a werewolf. But he also draws Erin with a roguish charm, and an irresistible feeling that seems to bind them together...

Conner desperately tries to save her from an unknown evil that pursues her with a relentless passion that crosses centuries, an evil that once took her very soul away, somewhere in Erin's lost memories.

As she becomes more entwined in a series of events that will remind her of who she really is, will she make it away from the oncoming darkness unscathed...?

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Erin tossed and turned. Her bed sheets were tussled up, one pillow lying on the floor as she shifted her limbs in anguish. She was not sleeping well tonight.

...Something raced towards her, crashing through the branches and leaves. She was sobbing and running as fast as she could, but she was cold and wet, and her feet were cut and bleeding. Her clothes hung off her, soaked until they became dead weights.

A small clearing lit with brilliant sunshine danced in front of her, teasing her with the sight. She ran towards it, trying to scream for help, but her mouth was full of cotton wool, and no sound came out.
Behind her, the breathing and snarling became louder and louder until it filled and echoed in her ears. Frantic, she looked around for somewhere to hide, but all she could see were trees—no, wait! There was a small hut!

Crying with happiness, Erin sprinted towards it, but she was knocked flying by something large and dark.

She turned to stare, and backed away in panic. An eight-foot black creature with burning amber eyes glared at her.

“You must never go inside! NEVER!”

Erin shot bolt upright, cold sweat dripping from her forehead and running into her eyes. She took a deep breath shakily, and snapped her bedside light on, the reassuring light flooding her bedroom.

“Oh, Erin,” she murmured to herself, wiping the sweat from her brow with a shaking hand. Glancing around her warm, safe bedroom, she relaxed and breathed in deeply. She felt stupid for taking in Conner’s stories so much. She glanced over at the clock and groaned at the early hour.

Still trembling, she slid out of bed and reached for her pink silk dressing gown. She pulled it on with a wide yawn, shaking her head to wake herself up before making her way downstairs.  Her wool carpet felt rough and very real beneath her bare feet, the perfect antidote to help bring her back into the real world. Traipsing through the silent house, she pattered through into her kitchen.

Snapping the fluorescent above on, Erin waited as its humming light came to life, allowing her to see the small kitchen, blinking at the brightness. Its tiled floors and white walls stung her sleep-deprived eyes for a moment, but Erin shuffled across the tiles to open one of her maple cupboard doors, feeling her way around the kitchen table in the centre. The door squeaked in protest on its hinges as she reached inside to take out a glass. Her eyelids heavy, she paced over to her kitchen sink, and ran water into the glass. The cool water filled up with a gurgle that only made her thirstier.

A quick movement in the shadows outside of her kitchen window caught her eye, and she darted her head up for a look, scanning the blackness of her small garden. Her heart thudded into life, hammering against her ribs in a warning staccato. Squinting harder, she leaned against the glass, her breath steaming the reflective surface up. Nothing moved, not even a wind danced across the stalks of grass outside.

“It must have been a cat or something,” Erin muttered to herself. She turned away from the window, scooping up her glass once more to take a sip, when she thought she heard a thump from outside again. It was quiet, so quiet she wondered if it had simply been the pipes all along. Her skin prickled as she listened intently, so intently that the next thump against her kitchen wall brought a sharp gasp from her.

“Alright, what the hell is that?” Erin said aloud, more bravely than she felt. She slammed her glass down on her kitchen table, the clanging noise serving only to heighten the tension. Stories about women who lived alone and ended up as a victim raced through her brain. Shaking those thoughts from her head, she slowly made her way towards the back door. Her head ached with the pressure of her pulse against her temples as she took a deep breath and unlocked her back door, flinging it wide open. As she gazed out, her eyes adjusting to the meagre light from behind, her throat dried with panic. She didn’t expect to see anything. Maybe teenagers messing around. But not this.

Standing less than six feet away from her door was a large, black wolf-like creature. It stood on four paws, but two glaring eyes focussed on Erin, very human and aware. It rose up slowly onto its back feet as it continued to stare at Erin, daring her to defy it standing there and dismiss it as shadows.
Erin froze for a second, the blood draining from her body in an icy rush. The wind blew between her and the creature chillingly, echoing the dream-like state she felt. Her tongue was dry and swollen—even if she had tried to call for help, her throat would never have formed the words. The creature moved a fraction forwards, and her sense of self-preservation snapped back into life as she moved, swiftly slamming the door shut. She fumbled hurriedly with her lock, and stepped backwards towards the hallway, switching the fluorescent off by accident as her hand slid along the wall. She tripped over a chair leg, unable to see in the dark, and cried out as she hit the hard floor.

Shaking and winded, she crawled backwards to the hallway, hitting the far kitchen wall instead. Sobbing noiselessly, she reached up onto the top next to her. She moved her fingers gingerly until she touched one of her kitchen knives, left on the top from when she had made her dinner. There is no way on Earth this is real. I’m still in my nightmare. I’m still in my nightmare. I’m going to wake up in a moment. Clutching the knife to her chest, she swallowed back a cry, glancing back towards the kitchen window. What if there are more of them?

Outside, she heard the creature breathing heavily, snarling and snuffling at her doorstep. Erin yanked her knees up until she was in a foetal position, tirelessly glancing between the door and the uncovered window.  Hours passed, until eventually she heard the creature padding off, her head swimming with fatigue. Erin stayed up for what felt like hours, listening for the creature coming back, eventually falling into an uneasy sleep.

About the Author:

I'm Miranda Stork, and I'm addicted. Addicted to writing and reading books, anyway. And chocolate, but that's another issue - no interventions, please.

I live in the middle of a forest in North Yorkshire, spending my spare time as the wild woman of the woods, scaring small children and upsetting the sheep. On the days that I feel like being civilized, or I haven't got any unicorns to ride, I sit down and pour the tumbling thoughts in my head out onto digital paper. Mainly the thoughts and characters come out in paranormal form, with a good smattering of romance, because everyone likes a good cuddle. But you can also find strong elements of thrillers, myths, and even dystopia amongst the pages of all my novels. I've wanted to write books ever since I first realised that fairytales were not the newspapers of the fairy kingdom, but the imaginings of actual people who wanted to tell fancy made-up stories to other people. From that moment, I was hooked.

Why do I write? Good question. It might be easier to just keep the stories in my head, or even just to write them for myself. But I want to share them. There is no greater delight for a writer than when a reader devours your book, and declares, "Something in that novel resonated with me. And I want MORE." So grab your lucky clover and a baseball bat (there's some nasty paranormal creatures where we're going), eat the cookie with 'eat me' tagged on it, and enter through the tiny door into the world of Miranda Stork...

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/writerofshadows/

Reviewers Love Conner

"5 stars! One of the best novels I have read all year!" 
--Nicole Hill, Author of Legacy Forgotten, 5 Stars

"You are hooked whether you like it or not! A great read." 
--Maxi Shelton, Author of Sold Into Marriage, 5 Stars

"'Conner' took me on a wild, fantastic and exciting ride!" 
--Trish Marie Dawson, Author of 'The Station' Series, 5 Stars

"Conner is a must read for all werewolf fans. It has a fresh spin on wolves, 
and I thought it was great." 
--Fictional Candy, 4 Stars 

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