Writing Samael- Behind The Character
(Lavender Fields villain)
Writing nice, likable characters with hearts of gold is easy for me. Writing villains, as it turns out, is not. Not because I can’t imagine a character vile enough to make a good villain but because I have a tendency—or so I’m told—to create cheesy villains. In the words of one of my editors (I should be mad at him but he made me laugh so I forgive him) at first, Samael came across as the cartoon villain in The Incredibles. I still don’t agree with this assessment of Samael, but I figured that if even one reader agreed with my editor, I’d be in big trouble. I decided to change it.
I needed Samael to be truly dark, inside and out, the epitome of evil. I wanted the readers to be afraid for my characters. And, if I’m totally honest, I wanted the readers to have some nightmares about this character and what he may do to Caleb and Sky. I dug into my previous experiences writing villains and rehashed the one I felt was the most insidious of all.
This character is from a novel I wrote a long time ago and which hasn’t as yet seen the light of day. It was never edited and rests on my pile of maybe-one-day-I’ll-revise manuscripts. This man—can’t even remember his name right now—was evil because he hated and harmed for no logical reason. He had no other motivation but hate itself. In the original manuscript, he hated the main character because of his race. Samael hated Sky because he was in many ways different from him. Ultimately though he just hated because it gave him pleasure, it justified his existence. Isn’t that the ultimate evil?
Samael is the character that reflects many of Sky’s fears—his fear of being enlisted by the dark angels, losing his freedom, and ultimately his fear of losing the things and people he loves the most. Just like the boggart in Harry Potter, Samael is the incarnation of everything Sky abhors and fears.
Who wouldn’t be scared of evil that can sneak on you at any time and has the power of angelic magic on its side? Samael made my skin crawl while I was writing him, and yes, I had a few nightmares about him. I think I’ve achieved a truly scary villain but, in the end, the readers are the ones who will decide.