Author Mary Ann Loesch on wickedness and the evil characters in her latest book, Bayou Myth.
“Are people born wicked or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?”
That’s a line from a popular Broadway musical called, Wicked. It tells the story of Elphaba, later known as the Wicked Witch of the West, and Galinda, aka, the Good Witch of the North. The musical chronicles their unlikely friendship and explains how Elphaba comes to be known as the most wicked creature around. It’s a fun story, and you’ll never look at The Wizard of Oz the same way again!
I like the question the best. Are people born wicked? Or is it their particular circumstance that causes their actions? I guess I like to think that no one is born wicked, that we are all victims of our opportunities in life. However, do the same rules apply when creating characters?
I think so. Most readers want to know why a character does the things he or she does. They need a reason to understand that person’s actions–whether they are good or bad. And yet, some characters are so truly evil that the reader becomes fascinated and doesn’t need their back story. For instance, take eveyone’s favorite cannibal, Hannibal Lector. Hmmm…what exactly did his momma do to him in childhood that turned him into such a connoisseur of human flesh? Author Thomas Harris chooses not to go into details about that, and it’s really not important to the story, but still, it does make you wonder…
As a young adult writer who dabbles in urban fantasy and horror, I often ask myself that question about any new evil character I’m creating. I like to know what it is that drives a person to do the their bad deeds. Sometimes I include that info in a story and sometimes, I just hint at it. This is all part of knowing when and how much of the back story to include–a tricky thing for writers. Too much of it and your audience tunes out. Too little and they get frustrated enough to stop reading.
In Bayou Myth, my “bad” characters are related: Hera and Ana Ziegler. One is a voodoo priestess who has been dead for a hundred years and wants vengeance (Hera) and the other is her great, great, granddaughter (Ana) who thinks the main character, Joan, is responsible for the death of her mother. I would have to say that neither character was born wicked, but both were influenced by the environment they grew up in.
But I’ll let you be the real judge. Pick up a copy of Bayou Myth and share your thoughts! Here is a synopsis of the book:
As a sixteen year old voodoo queen in the making, Joan Renault just wants to be like all the other girls in the small town of Monte Parish, Louisiana—obsessed with boys and swamped with social lives. If the other kids would quit calling her “hoodoo hag,” she might have a small shot at normality. It would also help if Joan’s weekend outings with her secret crush, Dave, weren’t always being interrupted by her dead Grandmere, the legendary Marie Laveau. After all, it’s hard to make out with your best friend when your grandmother is watching! But when you come from a long line of voodoo priestesses with dried gator heads decorating the wall of their huts, normal doesn’t come easily.
When Joan witnesses the brutal sacrifice of a child to a tree Druid, she learns her Grandmere’s scandalous past has come back to haunt those living in the present. Hera, a vengeful voodoo priestess is determined to use the residual energy of Pandora’s Box to revive a sleeping voodoo god and declare war on the descendants of Marie Laveau, especially Joan. Suddenly, Greek myths are being re-enacted all over town, and Joan has her hands full trying to sort it all out. With the approach of Samedi’s Day—the voodoo day of resurrection—Joan must learn to accept her destiny in order to stop the approaching threat to her family and friends. Buy it on Amazon.
About Mary Ann Loesch
Mary Ann Loesch is an award winning fiction writer from Texas. Her urban fantasy, Nephilim, was published in July 2011 by Lyrical Press Inc. An avid blogger for All Things Writing and Loesch’s Muse, Mary Ann has also contributed stories in the horror anthology, All Things Dark and Dastardly. Her latest book, Bayou Myth, was released in June 2012. While she loves dirty martinis and cuddling with her dachshund, she loves fan mail even more! Contact her through her website, on Facebook, GoodReads, or via Twitter.
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