Heroes & Villains & other brouhahhah

02 May


Have I told you all how much I love blog tours? Once upon time, authors had to actually get dressed (okay, so I do have *some* clothes on, don’t worry) and leave the house to interact with readers—unless those readers were stalkers, but that is a villainous topic for another day. Now, we just go on tour virtually, linking up with the blogs of other “Authorpreneurs” who have had the nous to self-publish their works. That creates a huge network of authors and readers and maximises our opportunities for getting our books read and your opportunities for getting cool free stuff—all while we’re sitting at home wearing whatever the hell we like and hammering out our next masterpiece while sucking down a bowl of ramen noodles (the author dietary supplement of choice, for financial reasons).

Recently, I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in Martin Bolton’s stupendous Heroes and Villains Blog Hop, running from 3-6 May 2013 on twenty-eight awesome author blogs. As well as writing a piece on the villains in Cruxim and how I came to make them so dastardly, I’m also giving away stacks of great swag, including books, an Amazon gift card, and jewellery (which you can check out down there *insert downward arrows dammit* at the bottom of the post). Better yet, every one of the 28 fantasy, science fiction and historical fiction authors on the tour is also giving away fabulous prizes for readers, so make sure you hop along to all of the blogs listed at the end of this post, check out their books, and enter their competitions too.

So here goes … my little post filling you in on the evil workings of my own noggin.

The Characters you Love to Hate

As an editor by trade, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve told authors that they have weak villains.  When writing villains, authors have to ensure that not only is their badass just as memorable as the protagonist, but that his or her motivations are just as clear and grounded in aspects of the villain’s past and his or her personal and psychological development. In real life, sometimes it seems that we see people (hopefully from behind the safety or a TV screen, or simply in a newspaper, rather than in real life) who seem to be just straight-out plain evil monsters. We’ve all seen the news stories that made us shudder at the depths of human depravity. Sometimes, it seems like there is no rhyme or reason to such cruelty, but dig a little deeper and there is often a profile to such killers: a number of factors (not causes, let’s not make excuses for it) that might lead to the kind of evil that serial killers or psychopaths indulge in.

If you’re an author like me, you’re probably a little bit fascinated by the psychology behind killers. What makes them do it? How can they live with themselves? How did they get away with it? When I was writing Cruxim, I wanted Amedeo to be faced with villains who weren’t just out to get him for the hell of it, but who actually had chips in the game. It would have been easy for my Vampire villain, Beltran, to just hate Amedeo because he is a Cruxim—after all, Cruxim eat Vampires. I’m pretty sure gazelles are not too fond of lions: same dynamic. But I wanted Beltran, who is also the primary Villain in the ongoing saga and appears in later novels, to have a real reason to hate Amedeo aside from the sheer circumstance of the supernatural food chain.

That reason became Joslyn—primarily Beltran’s love for the mortal-turned-vampire, and her enduring love for Amedeo, even as he forsakes her. I drilled down to what I thought were the major psychological issues Beltran had to deal with (and again, readers will find out more about some of Beltran’s background issues in book II in the series, Creche, which I hope to have out by July. So if you don’t want to read a very slight *spoiler* look away now). Abandoned by his father as a young boy, Beltran turned his feelings of helplessness into a craving for power. At first, it was just the power to defend himself and those he loved, such as his sister Evedra. But in his longing for it, power became a kind of lust for him. When he became a vampire and finally had that power, he was unable to control either the power or the lust. It manifested as a need to dominate others, particularly women, physically. But when he meets Joslyn, he falls in love with her innocence. He hates Amedeo not only because Ame truly represents the kind of pure, honorable power Beltran once craved, but also because Joslyn loves Amedeo for that sense of honor and hates Beltran for the perverted way he abuses his own power.

The other major villain in Cruxim is Dr. Claus Gandler, who I’ve found has given many readers shivers even more than Beltran. When I was stripping down his character to the bare bones (which is not a bad analogy for Gandler, given his predilection for torture and amputation), I revisited the biographies of some of the most heinous real-life villains in human history. Seriously, you couldn’t make up the kind of horrors these men inflicted on innocents. I wish I could scrub some of the things I read while researching Gandler’s character right out of my head. Among these beasts was Josef Mengele, the abhorrent, seriously depraved physician of the Nazi’s Auschwitz concentration camp, a man known as the Angel of Death. Not only did he personally order jews and those of other ethnic minorities to the gas chambers, Mengele also conducted appalling experiments into heredity upon twins and on others he considered abnormalities of nature, such as those who suffered from dwarfism or heredity conditions. Not even children were spared Mengele’s terrors. I also spent some time studying the hateful practice of travelling “freak shows” in the 18th and 19th centuries. As an Aussie author, I’d read a bit about them before, because unfortunately many Australian Aborigines were taken to Europe and exploited at such shows and “world fairs”, incorrectly portrayed as cannibals or imbecile savages.

I also considered how in real life those who come into close conflict with certain afflictions sometimes come to hate others who suffer from them, and I posited how Gandler might feel if he had a child who suffered from a “freakish” disorder. What if his only son, Fritz, was killed directly as a result of having that disorder: a rare blood condition in which he produced too much blood, making him a target for vampires? Would Dr Gandler understand other “freaks” (and I use the inverted commas because I recognise that these were simply unlucky people who suffered from medical conditions), or would he hate them and use them to try to get to the bottom of vampirism, would he exploit them for his own ends? I decided to make him hate the other “freaks” he collects for all that they represent—his inability to protect his son Fritz, his hatred of hereditary imperfections. That hatred of freaks, and his desire to understand how to correct/avoid such conditions and how to end Vampirism, leads to the horrible acts of torture and “experiments” he carries out. It is only when faced with his own imminent death that Gandler makes the decision which will eventually lead to his downfall. To my mind, Gandler is a particularly evil character because of the clinical way he goes about collecting and dissecting his freaks. His is a controlled, careful kind of insanity, and sometimes that is more dangerous than all-out “batshit crazy” (a phrase which I suppose applies to Beltran in some ways).

So did I achieve what I wanted to do with these villains? Yes and no. In retrospect, I wish I had spent more time letting Amedeo vanquish his foes. But in the heat of a battle, there is not really time to stop and crow over victories, however large or small; all of that must come after, and will to a certain extent in Creche. And as for Beltran … well, you’ll all just have to tune in to the next episode to see what happens to Beltran’s perverted power, and to find out how he gained such a power in the first place.

You’ve hung in this far, AWESOME. So, here’s what am I giving away?

Cruxim_cover_small* Two signed, personally addressed paperback copies of Cruxim.

* Three ebook copies of Cruxim (which the lucky recipients can have signed at

* A $10 Amazon gift card.

* The adorable sterling silver cross below right (a little larger than in the pic, which is not to scale).654459837_o

* And one of the beautiful angel wing bellybutton rings (far right, also not to scale.)

All you have to do is like my page on Facebook at and leave a message on the Heroes and Villains Blog Hop thread there to tell me which prize you’re most after.
OR, Follow me on twitter and either tweet about the #villainsandheroes blog hop or RT my tweet about the #villainsandheroes blog hop.
Leave a message on the comments below, to let me know you have entered. Every one of these actions constitutes one entry for each of the prizes. So if you like my page, tweet, and comment, that is three entries. The more entries, the better your chances to win.

Also, make SURE you pop past the blogs of these other 27 incredible indie-published authors, like their pages and enter their competitions too! And lastly, thanks again for joining me. I hope you’ve enjoyed the hop.

Nyki Blatchely
Martin Bolton
Mike Cooley

Eleni Constantine
Joanne Hall

Jolea M Harrison
Tinney Sue Heath
K. Scott Lewis
Paula Lofting
Liz Long
Peter Lukes
Mark McClelland
M.Edward McNally
Sue Millard
Rhiannon Douglas
Ginger Myrick
David Pilling
Kim Rendfeld
TL Smith
Tara West
Keith Yatsuhashi


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30 responses to “Heroes & Villains & other brouhahhah

  1. Rhiannon Douglas (@RhiDouglas)

    May 3, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Absolutely love your take on Heroes and Villains. Liked you on facebook and can’t wait to read the ebook!

  2. Elizabeth Bevins

    May 3, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    I’d love the be entered to win all prizes except the eBook.
    I’ll follow you on twitter and like your Facebook page.
    Thanks for three entries!

    • Karin Cox

      May 3, 2013 at 10:26 pm

      Done! Thanks so much for entering Elizabeth and good luck.

    • Karin Cox

      May 8, 2013 at 6:21 pm

      Elizabeth, can you please email me at to let me know your postal address, as you’re the winner of the silver cross.

    • Karin Cox

      May 12, 2013 at 12:30 pm

      Hi Elizabeth, can you please email me your postal adress to You won the sterling silver cross. Congratulations.

  3. Fictional Candy

    May 3, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    I just left you a message on your facebook page. I really like this post, it was fun. And honestly, anyone who uses the word villainous is pretty damn awesome. I’m going to go poke around your site some more today. Nice to meet you!

    Here’s the link to my FB comment:

    Have a great day!

    • Karin Cox

      May 3, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      Thanks so much. Poke away And thanks heaps for stopping by and entering.

  4. Nyki Blatchley

    May 4, 2013 at 6:49 am

    Some interesting analysis of motivation. The idea of the need for safety turning into lust for power is one that can be found in many historical cases.

    • Karin Cox

      May 4, 2013 at 9:48 am

      Thanks, Nyki. It made sense to me that someone who felt so powerless might seek power, and then have no idea how to wield it appropriately. I wonder if readers can tell that I almost have a soft spot for Beltan in some ways. He is bad, but he is not all bad. Dr. Gandler, on the other hand, is bad beyond any kind of redemption.

  5. kimbacaffeinate

    May 4, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Thanks for sharing

    • Karin Cox

      May 4, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      You’re welcome, Kim. Thanks for reading. 🙂

  6. tarawestauthor

    May 4, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Karin, your villains truly are evil. Your doctor made me shudder, perhaps more than Beltran. Excellent blog post. Love the graphic. 🙂 Tara

    • Karin Cox

      May 4, 2013 at 1:40 pm

      Thanks, Tara. I was so lovely to find some awesome graphics online that weren’t super expensive. It’s a good one, huh. Thanks for reading and yes, I hope I never meet anyone like Gandler (or Beltan) in real life!

  7. skyegirl77

    May 4, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    love your work, and really love the silver cross! 🙂

    • Karin Cox

      May 4, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      Thanks Skye. Best of luck in the draw. 🙂

  8. Magen Haskins

    May 4, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Well, I would love to have either your book or the cross. 🙂

    • Karin Cox

      May 4, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      It is a lovely one, isn’t it. You’re in the draw for both book and cross. Thanks so much for entering. I’ll be posting the winners sometime shortly after the hop closes (6 May).

  9. Sheri

    May 4, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    My next book to read is Curxim. I’m looking forward to getting started. Looks like a good one.

    • Karin Cox

      May 4, 2013 at 1:41 pm

      Oooh, how exciting. Thanks so much, Sheri. I hope you enjoy it. And thanks for entering the competition too. Fingers crossed for you.

  10. Paula Lofting Wilcox (@Paulalofting)

    May 4, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    Loved your post Karin. Your book sounds so awesome, ive liked your FB page, please enter me for a signed paperback if possible!

    • Karin Cox

      May 4, 2013 at 9:51 pm

      Thank you so much, Paula. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Good luck. I’ve entered you in the draw.

  11. K. Scott Lewis

    May 5, 2013 at 6:06 am

    I like the concept of Cruxim, and great post on villains. Also, the visuals of your blog rock! I added Cruzim to my Goodreads ‘want list’.

    • Karin Cox

      May 5, 2013 at 8:58 am

      Thanks so much for stopping by. I’ll pop your name in the draw. 🙂

  12. Tinney Heath

    May 5, 2013 at 7:47 am

    Great post, Karin – especially interesting about your background research. I’ve liked your
    FB page and would love to be entered for an ebook. Thanks!

    • Karin Cox

      May 5, 2013 at 8:58 am

      Done! Thanks so much for reading, Tinney.

  13. hannahstarkid

    May 6, 2013 at 8:46 am


  14. Shadow

    May 7, 2013 at 7:23 am

    Very awesome hop! I love it! Great theme too! 🙂 Great post! Your book sounds awesome! You have my attention! Thank you for sharing!
    FB: Shadow Kohler (commented too!)
    Twitter: @LuvToRead09

  15. hannahstarkid

    May 9, 2013 at 6:34 am

    Done and im hoping for neckalace or books if this is still going on

  16. hannahstarkid

    May 9, 2013 at 6:35 am

    opps i forgot i commented


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