We bought land in the mountains last spring, a Shangri-La escape from hectic day jobs. The critters outnumber the people, so when we kick back on the porch with a glass of wine, we watch the wild kingdom. Wood ducks, geese and the occasional heron hang out in the spring-fed pond. Owls haunt the trees at the edge of the woods. There’s even a bald eagle – how cool is that? They’re huge and have the haughty, I rule supreme around here attitude.
But I love the hawks. They ride the wind currents on wide wings until – boom – plummeting into the hay field after one of those irritating voles that dig huge holes and eat flower bulbs.
Spring rolled into summer and we spent long days clearing the property. The Canadian geese resented our work around the pond, departing with loud complaints. The wood ducks were more discrete, quietly fading into the rushes. Then ducks do what ducks do – we do write romance at Carina Press – and soon lines of yellow and brown fluffiness appeared behind the adults.
Gradually though, the lines got shorter and piles of poofed feathers appeared in the meadow. Yep, it appears hawks like baby ducks as much as they do voles.
Did your attitude towards the hawks just change?
Is the hawk a ‘bad guy’ or is it just doing what hawks are programmed to do in order to survive?
I had a lot of time to think about predators while cutting the hay field. I shared that story here. For many authors, the villain is a predator, either physically hurting someone or exploiting a situation for their own benefit. The best antagonists, in my opinion, have a reason for what they do, even if it only makes sense to them.
In the animal world, hawks eat to survive and they keep the world from being overrun with ducks. While a hawk is clearly a predator, is predator status inherently a bad thing? Or does it depend upon your perspective? Does it depend on the predator’s motivation?
What do you think makes the most intriguing villains?
When I write, I create a world, populate it with characters – good and not so good – and invite the reader along for the ride. An important element in making that journey rewarding is figuring out what motivates the characters. In THE PROFESSOR, the villain may have been warped by his childhood, but he chose to cross the line and prey on college women.
Meet the villain in THE PROFESSOR (read the excerpt here) – what’s your perspective on him?