Monday, April 16, 2012

Rebecca Zanetti - The Top Five Characteristics of an Awesome Villain

Please welcome back Rebecca Zanetti to The Qwillery. Rebecca first visited The Qwillery as a debut author in early 2011 near the publication of her first Dark Protector novel, Fated. In a few days, Rebecca's 3rd novel will be published - Hunted. In between there has been a novel, Claimed, and an eNovella, Tempted.  Two additional Dark Protector novels will be published later this year!

Thank you to the Qwillery for having me here today – I love this site! Also, I’d like to thank Kelly Mueller from Books-N-Kisses for putting together this fun blog tour for me. Well, I know from reading other blog posts here (I’m a regular reader), that most of us love a good hero. Of course, to have a good hero…you need a great villain.

Well, I’m under deadline right now writing Book 5 of my Dark Protector series, and when I need to organize, I turn to lists. So I hope it’s okay to throw a list out there.

The Top Five Characteristics of an Awesome Villain

  1. The villain has to be as smart if not smarter than the hero. The story would be no fun if the hero and heroine didn’t have their work cut out for them. The brilliant bad guys are the ones we remember. Hannibal Lecter was a genius, and Clarice Starling had to dig deep to thwart him. Of course, did she actually beat him?
  3. The villain has to know he is the villain—and embrace it—hopefully with a sardonic twist of humor. If you haven’t watched Timothy Olyphant in Live Free or Die Hard – watch it and not just because hey, it’s Timothy Olyphant. There’s a scene where John McLane (hero) taunts Thomas Gabriel (Olyphant playing the villain) about greed and money. Gabriel responds with, “You don’t think I deserve the money, John? Hell, I’m working my a** off here.” It’s sarcastic and funny and you get the feeling that Gabriel is laughing at everyone, including himself.
  5. The villain has to believe he’s right, even when everyone else knows he’s wrong. The villain needs to be as committed to his path, and believe it’s the right path, in order to show how committed the hero is to his path. Colonial Nathan R. Jessup in A Few Good Men is an excellent villain. He’s tough and thinks his way is the only way. And there’s a slight possibility that he is right—he works on the front lines and does keep people safe. But he lied and sacrificed two marines to do it, so we know he’s the bad guy. But what an excellent bad guy!
  7. A good villain needs to have the reader root for him at least once, if just for a second. Often, the villain has had a terrible childhood, so for a second you can feel for him. But, then he’ll go and do something so dastardly…that emotion goes away. In order for a villain to be truly effective, we have to see him as human. In fact, we have to see ourselves in his shoes, however briefly. (This is a bit of a stretch—but am I the only one who roots for the Road Runner to win…just once?)
  9. A good villain needs to have that moment of choice—he really needs to choose to be the bad guy with his eyes wide open so we can root against him.  We don’t want the villain to fall into being the bad guy any more than we want the hero to naturally be a good guy. Characters need to struggle and fight to claim their role. In my series, (yes, you knew I’d talk about my books at some point, right? :-) ) I have an ongoing bad guy (Kalin the Kurjan) who goes from childhood into adulthood and in Hunted, he is actually faced with the opportunity to be good. He’s at that proverbial fork in the road…and has to choose a path. Guess which way Kalin chooses?

To sum up, the villain needs as many layers as the hero. The cookie-cutter ‘bad guy’ who’s just plain bad isn’t interesting. The bad guy who might turn good…but doesn’t…well, he’s interesting. We truly need a dastardly villain we can identify with in order to root for the hero to win. And the hero should win. :-)

I would love to give away a signed copy of either Fated or Claimed to a commenter here. Who’s your favorite villain?

About the Dark Protector Series

Dark Protector 3
Brava. April 24, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

Ready Or Not

Moira Dunne is a witch—the quantum physics kind. Time and space are her playthings. Which might explain why her one-night stand from a hundred years ago has turned up to “claim” her—and request her family’s assistance with the war he’s brewing. But the more she learns about Connlan Kayrs, the more she comes to think this is normal behavior for him…

There’s Nowhere To Hide

When Conn and Moira tumbled on the moonlit grass, Conn hadn’t meant to mark her as his mate for all time. She was only twenty! But it wasn’t easy to wait for her. It was even harder to forget her. So when he finally returns for his wicked-hot witch, he’s ready to let the sparks flying. Even if he burns up in flames…

Dark Protector eNovella
Brava, March 27, 2012

Constant Danger

On the run from a mental institution and her vindictive half-brother, it’s safe to say that Sarah Pringle’s happy life as a schoolteacher is on hold. Too bad that as far as self-defense goes, “run and hide” is the best she’s got. And with the monsters that started her escape hot on her heels, that’s not going to cut it for long…

Instant Lust

That is, unless Sarah has a bigger, badder, hotter monster on her side. Max Petrovsky is right at the top of the list of alpha male ass-kickers. And he knows exactly what Sarah’s up against. Good thing, because the minute he sees her something primal kicks in, turning everyday attraction into red-hot desire. As long as they’re cooperating, why not mix some pleasure with business? Of course, Max should probably tell Sarah he’s a vampire himself…

Dark Protector 2
Brava, October 25, 2011
Trade Paperback and eBook, 330 pages

A Daring Rescue

Emma Paulsen is a geneticist driven by science. But she’s also a psychic, so when a dark, good-hearted vampire frees her from the clutches of the evil Kurjans, she realizes he must be the man who’s been haunting her dreams. But with a virus threatening vampires’ mates, Emma may discover a whole new meaning of “lovesick”…

A Deadly Decision

As King of the Realm, Dage Kayrs has learned to practice diplomacy. Still, it’s taken three hundred years to find his mate, so he’ll stop at nothing to protect her—even if it means turning his back on his own kind…

Dark Protector 1
Brava, February 22, 2011
Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

Marry Me

Cara Paulsen does not give up easily. A scientist and a single mother, she’s used to fighting for what she wants, keeping a cool head, and doing whatever it takes to protect her daughter Janie. But “whatever it takes” has never before included a shotgun wedding to a dangerous-looking stranger with an attitude problem…

Or Else

Sure, the mysterious Talen says that he’s there to protect Cara and Janie. He also says that he’s a three-hundred-year-old vampire. Of course, the way he touches her, Cara might actually believe he’s had that long to practice…

About Rebecca

Rebecca Zanetti has worked as an art curator, Senate aide, lawyer, college professor and a hearing examiner - only to culminate it all in stories about vampires and science. She is a member of RWA and several of its chapters and has won awards for her works throughout the industry.

Her favorite movie is "Life with Father" and her favorite book is "Raise High the Roofbeams, Carpenters." She has a journalism degree with a poly sci emphasis from Pepperdine and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Idaho.

Please visit Rebecca at:

More links


The Giveaway


What:  One commenter will win his or her choice of a signed copy of either Fated or Claimed from Rebecca!

How:  Leave a comment answering Rebecca's question:

Who's your favorite villain?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Monday, April 23, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*


  1. [+1] My favourite villain is Lucifer in the Supernatural TV series... gotta love the epitome of evil :)

    [+1] GFC follower.

    [+1] Twitted about your giveaway at:!/cherrymischivus/status/191870548941357056

    Cherry Mischievous
    cherrymischif-blackward [at] yahoo [dot] com

    1. Hi Cherry! Ohhhh- great villain! He is the epitome of evil, and he does it so well. :)

  2. My favorite villain... first one that comes to mind is Moriarty. And now I think I should re-read Sherlock Holmes. :D!/Will_Knight3/status/191885167038701569

    Would Twitter work as contact info? You could DM me in the astronomical chance I actually do win. ;P

    1. Hi Will! I should go re-read Sherlock Holmes, too. I love the suspense aspect in the writing almost as much as the characterization. Have a great Monday!

  3. +1 I would have to say Lord Voldemort and Professor Snape from Harry Potter. Snape was a good/bad villian.
    +1 GFC follower Chrisbails
    +1 shared on twitter-The Qwillery: Rebecca Zanetti - The Top Five Characteristics of ...

    1. Snape was a good/bad villain - great choice! Thanks for popping by today. :)

  4. I've always found Sethos in the Amelia Peabody mysteries by Elizabeth Peters to be a charming villian!

    +1 comment
    +1 Follower
    +1 Tweeted (!/RebeLovesBooks/status/191898716280598528)


    1. Hi Rebe! Well, I haven't read those mysteries, so I'm going to have to go find them - thanks for the new read idea! Have a great one. :)

  5. I have two very different favorite villians. First is Hannibal Lector, and next up is Alan Rickman's portrayl of the Sheriff in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.


    1. Hi Linda. WOW - those are two very different villains! Both excellent ones, too. It'd be fun to see them go up against each other in a work, wouldn't it? :)

  6. ~S~
    Thank you for being the 1st stop on Rebecca's Hunted Tour!!


  7. Although she probably isn't technically classified as such, I think Harry Dresden's Fairy Godmother is a fabulous villainess.
    Follower: April V.
    april dot vrugtman at gmail

    1. Hi April - very nice choice! I think my favorite villains are usually the ones who can't be classified easily. Have a great Monday!

  8. My favorite villain is Urien, the Dark Fae King in Thea Harrison's Dragon Bound. He is deliciously evil.

    +1 comment
    +1 GFC follower Joanne B


    1. Hi Joanne! I think I'll have to look that one up because I love the 'deliciously evil" description! Thanks for dropping by today. :)

  9. I'm with chrisbails, the first that came to mind were Voldemort and Snape. I love that two other commenters mentioned Sethos and Leah (Dresden's godmother). I don't know that Leah is truly a villain, she's just fae and there are different in Dresden's world and I've never rooted for her.
    GFC Anne38

    1. Hi Anne! I've never tooted for Leah, either. Thanks so much for commenting today and have a great one! :)

  10. My favorite villain is Snape from the Harry Potter series.

    +1 comment
    +1 GFC follower

    1. Hi Stephanie! Snape is a good one, right? Thanks so much for commenting today! :)

  11. This series is new to me, but sounds awesome! I'd love to start with Fated! My fav villian is Stryker from Sherrily Kenyon's Dark Hunter series! He fits to a T. Thanks for the giveway!
    I follow via GFC & email too.

  12. Thanks for a fun post and giveaway!

    I'd have to say that my fav villian would also be Snape... he was one that you loved to hate and it was an utter shocker when you found out his true motives :)

    +1 gfc: erin
    +1 comment

  13. Thanks you a lot for this opportunity to win your book, after several good reviews i really want to discover it by myself so thanks you for opening this to international

    my favorite vilain would be dark vador ^^;;

    +1blog follow ( gfc)


  14. I love the Joker in Batman. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read these books. I am a follower and email subscriber.

  15. My favorite is valdomort is Harry Potter.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  16. Darth Vader! Love that deep voice & the sound of his breathing gives me goose pimples!

    +3: comment, GFC follow, tweeted!/LindaThum/status/192034672191094784

  17. My fav villain would have to be Malfoy from Harry Potter.

    +1 Comment
    +1 Follower of The Qwillery
    +1 Tweeted:!/yadkny/status/192056184113602560

  18. I'd say it's Cruella de Ville from the 101 Dalmations. That lady was wicked.
    follow +1
    luvfuzzzeeefaces at yahoo dot com

  19. My favorite villain is Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs. Man, that guy is a far-reek!
    I follow The Quillery by email: carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx
    I also tweeted about the giveaway:!/carlrscott/status/192110311585751040
    That's all I can do for my 3 entries. Thanks!

  20. My favorite villain was Moriarty. Still influence with Sherlock Holmes movie :)

    +1 comment
    +1 GFC as Filia Oktarina

  21. My favorite villianess is The Leanansidhe, or Lea, from the Harry Dresden series. I'm reading Grave Peril, now, and she is just a big baddie!

    +1 comment
    +1 follower

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  22. Great list, and some great points about what a villain needs. I love the bad guys that make you feel for them, and even hold ground that maybe what they are doing is good.
    My favorite villain is Darroc from the Fever series. He is totally committed to what he wants and thinks should happen, he even found love and it was taken from him. But in the end, yup still the big bad (well not the biggest bad but he ranks up there).

    GFC follower Lexi
    eyesofblueice (at) gmail

  23. I know SNAPE turns out to be a hero, but he makes a brilliant villain too.

    GFC: Mary Preston


  24. My favorite villain is Dexter Morgan. I like him so much, I can't see him as a serial killer.
    GFC follower as Diana
    I shared it on FB:

    Thank you for the giveaway!
    artgiote at gmail dot com

  25. My favorite villain is Galen from Gena Showalters Lords of the Underworld series. How crazy that the villain is the demon of Hope. Been wanting to check out the Dark Protectors series for awhile now...hope I can start by winning here:)
    +1 comment
    +1 follower gfc Andrea Wardlow

  26. +1 My favourite villain is Drake in Laura Bickle's Embers. Drake is an irresistibly dark and handsome bad boy hero exuding that thrilling vibe of danger and wildness. He was not a black and white villain but such a layered character that as a reader I couldn't help but feel ambivalent towards him, I was wavering in seeing him as a potential hero or the villain. Loved it!
    +1 GFC follower
    +1 tweeted:!/Stella_ExLibris/status/192176488580268033
    In total 3 entries.

    Thank you!
    stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com

  27. My fave is Dracula.

    +1 comment
    +1 follower
    +1 tweet -!/DonnaS1/status/192801172422270976
    +1 link -

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

  28. Lothaire from Immortals After Dark

    I follow the blog.

    Thanks for the giveaway.


  29. I'm sure there are heaps of villains that I love (sometimes they can be really awesome) but at the moment I'll go with Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because I love him as a bad guy! And, to me atleast, he wasn't as sexy when he was good. Same with Angel, I really quite liked him evil, *sigh* those leather pants. Thanks!

    I follow by GFC as JessS

  30. My favourtie villian is from a film called Deadly echo that I saw years ago. It's about a man who kidnaps his twin, and moves in with his twins wife to replace him. He than manages to get the wife to kill the husband thinking that he is the evil twin! Brilliant! Sometimes I love it when the bad guy wins!
    Comment +1
    follow +1
    twitter - bookworm_sarah

  31. When I was a kid Voldermort was my favourite and still is! It's like the first love, you never forget it :)

    aliasgirl at libero dot it


  32. It's hard to pick a favorite villain, but the one that comes to mind is Vlane from Karen Marie Moning's Fever series.

    GFC: ML
    mljfoland AT hotmail DOT com

  33. Until he was killed, Lash from JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood was a favorite villian. He was a good guy in the beginning of the series and Ward built on his character so you really got to know him and how he became evil.

    +1 GFC: books4me
    +1 comment
    +1 tweet:!/BooksForMe2/status/194443658790043648

    books4me67 at ymail dot com

  34. I don't know that I have a favorite villain really, but I am enjoying Larissa Ione's Lords of Deliverance series and the siblings. Reseph is the villain but should be redeemed in his book.
    +1 GFC: June M.
    +1 Comment
    manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

  35. Rebecca, Congrats on your newest release! My favorite villain is Lex Luther from Smallville. He has so many layers that I don't think he even understands himself. Lol.
    Thank you for the great giveaway!
    GFC Follower ~ Tina B
    Twitter ~!/Trb0917/status/194622140358729728
    trb0917 at

  36. I know I missed the giveaway but I had to applaud "The Top Five Characteristics of an Awesome Villain." I always enjoy a good list and yours is so spot on! When I applied the characteristics to villains I'd read or seen in other media, they held up easily.

    btw - My favorite villain would have to be Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer when he turns into the bad Angel from before the gypsy's curse. Man - he was awesomely evil! And I just reviewed your list again and the qualities all applied so I guess that proves his villainous awesomeness! Good luck with your writing. Have fun with your villains.