Whether we harbour a secret soft-spot for them, or simply love to hate them, everyone has their favourite “baddie”.
They are undoubtedly the best thing to write. My editor always says my writing comes alive when I write the scenes with the baddies in. And I have to say I think she’s right.
I personally believe that the best kind of “baddie” is the one you can identify with in some way – someone who is flawed – human – who you think could be fixed – and only by you. My husband is always accusing me of picking up waifs and strays (you should see our rescued animal collection!) and perhaps that’s where that particular thought process springs from.
DOTTY and the Calendar House Key has its fair share of baddies – the obvious protagonists, evil sweep traders Porguss and Poachling of course, and the odious Mr Strake, duplicitous personal secretary to Great-Uncle Winchester.
Clearly there’s no saving Porguss and Poachling – they’re bad to the bone. But Strake is more complex character, as you will find out in book 4 when it’s released later in the year. Whether that new knowledge of his motivations gives you any more sympathy for him is another matter. Personally, I just don’t think he’s very nice!
Perhaps my favourite baddie of the DOTTY Series has to be from the second book, DOTTY and the Chimney Thief (if you haven’t read it yet, you can buy it here).
Mordecai isn’t actually the main villain of the piece – he’s only a henchman. But he’s my favourite flawed character of perhaps the whole series as well as being my little nod to Steampunk (you’ll see why when you read the book). We first meet Mordecai in the prologue to DOTTY and the Chimney Thief, and of course he’s up to no good. It’s a short scene, but gives a valuable insight into his character and his one big weakness – can you guess what it is? I’ll give you a clue: “all that glistens…”.
You can read the prologue here.
In DOTTY and the Chimney Thief we see Mordecai very much as a down-trodden underling – for me, I particularly love the way he (mild spoiler alert) sheds his feathers when he’s flustered. But I couldn’t resist giving him a more pivotal role in DOTTY and the Dream Catchers. And (another mild spoiler) that won’t be the last you see of him in the series, either.
Baddies, even when we hate what they do - perhaps we can’t help but marvel at their ingenuity, or even wish we were a bit more like them (their freedom from the chains of
ordinary polite society, perhaps) - children’s books are alive with them. From Fagin to Cruella and from the Childcatcher to Voldemort - I certainly have my favourites. Who’s yours?