Don’t Kill Your Villain
My first book was written for children. I had a young family at the time and I followed a natural inclination to write down the stories that flowed so easily from my imagination. Until then, most of these stories were verbal, created to make bedtime easier but they were forgotten by morning. All that remained were fragment of what might have become a book if I had taken the trouble to write the story down. Finally that was what I decided to do. That first book was soon followed by a further eleven. By that time my children had become young adults and, in that same stream of awareness, I found myself moving towards my first adult novel.
When I visit schools to talk to pupils about my books I’m always asked which oneI most enjoyed writing. Inevitably I tell them it was the first one, although, in truth, every book becomes a favourite when it is being written. The reason why I choose the first one is that it was an invaluable learning curve and a most enjoyable romp through my imagination. I’d worked as a journalist and the change from fact to fiction was a challenging change.
I wrote When the Luvenders Came to Merrick Town (published under the author name June Considine) in the belief that it was a one-off fantasy story peopled by evil little creatures called Luvenders. They were ruled by a human-like zentyre called Solquest, gifted with the power of eternal youth. By the time the book ended Solquest – denied the power of youth by the brave band of children who took him on – deserved a brutal and humiliating end. And so it was. Playing God was a giddy experience and by the final paragraph I had reduced him to a quivering lump of jelly and dispatched him down a drain pipe. So much for that, I decided, as I washed him from my hands and wrote those magical words The End.
Solquest the Zentyre – brought back to life for the second Zentyre series
Two months later I was frantically trying to work my way towards a miraculous resurrection. My publisher wanted a trilogy and Solquest had to return from the dead or, to be more accurate, emerge unscathed from the drainpipe. As I was writing for children I had to observe the number one cardinal rule – not to insult the intelligence of my young readers – so no Bobby Ewing dreams allowed, no time travel or other let-out clauses allowed.
In the end I constructed an intricate underground drainage system that eventually led to a tiny life-giving river called The Dark Rill. Such relief. Finally, I could finally start writing my sequel. That was many years ago. Solquest has had his trilogy and his time in the sun, so to speak. Periodically, I look towards him languishing on my book shelf and resolve to write a fourth book but, usually, there’s always something more pressing that needs my attention. If I do decide to set him loose once more, he’s ready for action. I learned my lesson. Don’t kill your villain unless you’re absolutely determined that he/she will never again walk, crawl, fly, swim, climb, swing from a tree or a skyscraper, leap from behind rocks or slither from the bowels of the earth. If your publishers utters those magic words, ’Can we have a follow-up book, please?’ be in a position to release your villain in a chastened but never, ever in a mortally wounded state.