January 2018 – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Month: January 2018

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Ultimate Guide to Villains and Antagonists: Beast

Dracula

Fafnir

Every werewolf ever

These names bring to mind creatures driven by a single imperative. For some, the driving force is a need to feed, while survival is the impetus that compels others to do what they do. But they all share one common thing: their primitive and bestial instincts overpower higher rationale. In the end, that savagery is what makes them a true beast.

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Beasts: The Origin

Beasts and savage creatures have been a recurring theme in fiction since the dawn of time. The oldest mythologies—including Egyptian, Sumerian, and Babylonian—feature dragons, werewolves, vampires, and more.  These beasts are typically driven by a single biological or psychological imperative:

  • Vampires need to feed on blood to survive
  • Dragons collect and hoard treasure
  • Fenrir the Wolf is foretold to kill Odin during Ragnarok

The thing that makes these beasts such amazing villains is that they are often at the mercy of those imperatives. They are often as much a victim of their own circumstance as the people that suffer at their hands. Many modern books, movies, and TV shows depict traditional “beast” characters fighting their own urges in order to assimilate into society.

Beasts are typically driven by the most basic physiological needs on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Food is typically the predominant factor: werewolves need fresh meat, vampires need blood, and so on. However, in many cases, beasts are driven by the need to survive. While humans can subsist on water, oxygen, and typical food, these beasts require other things to survive—i.e., vampires and blood.

However, other needs that drive them include financial (dragons and their gold), health and wellbeing (typical monsters avoiding monster hunters), and social belonging (with their pack and fellow “beasts”). They simply resort to methods of meeting these needs through methods that modern society have deemed primitive, savage, violent, and bestial.

These beasts tap into our fear not only of being harmed, but also fears at our own “darker selves”. Everyone has experienced the urge to hurt others at some point in their lives—in the name of revenge, justice, out of anger or frustration, or any number of reasons. We have all struggled to keep those “base impulses” under control, and it can be one of the greatest challenges of personal development that we face.

When we read about these bestial creatures that give into those darker selves, it holds up a mirror to show us what WE would be like if we were to permit our inner urges to overpower our rational mind. Think of these beasts as the Bizarro version of the person we try to convince the world we are. They are all the base instincts that exist even after millennia of evolution and development into the modern humans we are. They are the “animal within all of us”.

In stories:

Until the last 10 to 20 years, beasts were almost exclusively the antagonist. Their bestial nature made them straight villains, as they were willing to resort to “extremes” to follow their biological or psychological imperatives:

  • Smaug, from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit only cared about his hoard.
  • Dracula, Wolfman, and all the classic horror monsters of old were driven by their biological imperatives to survive.
  • Fenrir the Wolf in Norse mythology was fated to kill Odin, and the serpent Jörmungandr is fated to bring on the beginning of Ragnarok.

However, modern takes on bestial characters will often use them as a tortured protagonist fighting their own inner urges and base natures.

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Child of the Night Guild Audiobook

Yes, I’m so stoked to finally say that the audiobook for Child of the Night Guild is finally live! I was so lucky to find an amazing narrator to bring the book to life, and I’m thrilled for you all to listen to it.

Check out this sample:

You can get the whole thing over on Amazon. It’s SO COOL to hear the journey from the little eight-year old Viola to the strong, confident, hard eighteen year old Ilanna. I can’t wait to get the other two done as well.

Check it out!

I had a chance to talk to Rebecca McKernan and ask her a few questions about the audiobook recording process, her take on the story, and more. Here’s what she had to say:

A.P.: Is this is the darkest work of fiction you ever recorded? How did you feel about the story?

R.M.:Yes, it’s certainly top three. It’s definitely the darkest piece of fiction which ventures into the realms of fantasy I’ve recorded. I really enjoyed the story. I love how unapologetic it is, how honestly violent and unforgiving the surroundings are painted, how believable each of the characters and their actions are.

A.P.: What was your favorite part of recording this story? Your least favorite? The easiest? The hardest?

R.M.: I loved taking Viola’s/ Illana’s journey with her, helping her develop from this young, frightened girl into a hardened, ruthless young woman. It was an interesting challenge as a voice over artist, and I felt like I’d grown with the character. I’m not sure that I had a least favourite part of the recording process, because Andy is a good person to work with and didn’t place ridiculous demands upon me, but I suppose the most challenging part was making each of the male characters distinguishable from one another without making them into caricatures.

A.P.: Did you see bits of yourself in any of the characters? Did any one resonate with you or make you say, “Hey, I like his/her way of being/thinking/acting”? 

R.M.: Haha- I suppose I would like to see a few of Illana’s determined traits in myself, but that’s probably just daydreaming! I’m a big fan of both Denber and Prynn. I love Denber’s brotherly but firm way of dealing with his fellow apprentices, his fair, just manner. And I love Prynn’s gentleness. I’m also a bit of a sadist, so I do have a soft spot for Master Velvet…

A.P.: Which was your favorite character to record? Why? 

R.M.: I love working with different accents, so I enjoyed reading Master Hawk’s dialogue. I also really got into Master Velvet, when I’d struck the note that Andy was looking for in the character. I was a bit disappointed when the action moved away from the menagerie and I didn’t get to verbally bully children any more!

A.P.: Are you a big fantasy or science fiction reader? What is it about the genre that attracts you? What aspects of the genre don’t you like?

R.M.: I’m a big reader of everything. I don’t get a huge amount of time to read for pleasure any more, but when I do, my favourite genre would be some sort of dystopian fantasy- that tends to be what I write, too. I love a book in which you can see elements of the world that we live in, but is twisted or morphed in some way. I love, and don’t love at the same time, how in fantasy absolutely anything can happen and doesn’t really need to be explained, because it’s a fantastical world created by the writer. It can be anything. Anything goes.

A.P.: Do you share any of the characters’ traits? Obviously not the villain’s, but any of the other characters that reminded you of you? 

R.M.: Haha- I like how you say ‘obviously not the villains”… I definitely have moments of being as stubborn as Illana. But generally, I’d say I’m gentle, like Prynn, and quite protective, like Denber. And I’m a Londoner, so I feel like I’ve got quite a bit of Fox in me. I can’t help but think of them as London street urchins in some warped Dickensian Britain…

A.P.: Are there any character traits in the book that made you say, “I wish I could be more X”?

R.M.: I like Master Hawk’s no nonsense hard headedness, whilst still, I feel, being able to see things clearly and fairly. I could probably do with being a bit firmer myself.

A.P.: Do you have any quirks when preparing to record or during recording? Any rituals or habits?

R.M.: Not as far as I’m aware. As long as I have plenty of tea to hand, I’m good to go. Or, you know, wine….

A.P.: How do you keep track of all the voices and not get mixed up when switching between characters in dialogue-heavy scenes?

R.M.: It’s definitely a challenge. I try to paint a visual image of the character in my mind, and then give them something small I can identify them with, things that might exist if they were real people. Prynn had a voice which I saw as being a slightly masculine version of my normal speaking voice. Denber (in my mind) was a well educated chap who’d play rugby but wouldn’t cry if he lost. Sometimes I give voices shapes in my mind. Bert’s was quite round. It makes words easier to form if you can visualise them.

A.P.: What are your top 5 favorite books of all time? Which of the books that you recorded have been your favorite?

R.M.: Ooh. Ok, in no particular order:

  • The Handmaid’s Tale- Margaret Atwood
  • World War Z- Max Brooks
  • Atonement- Ian McEwan
  • Never Let Me Go- Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The Princess Bride- William Goldman

Oh my god, I’ve just realised every one of those books have been made into a film. I promise I read the books first.

Apart from Child of the Night Guild, of course, one of my favourite books I’ve recorded has been by an incredible author, Johanna Craven, called Forgotten Places (available now on Audible, Amazon, etc). It’s set in colonial Australia and follows the story of a woman and her daughter fleeing an abusive relationship. It is incredibly dark, incredibly haunting, and incredibly beautiful. Actually, that’s probably one of my favourite books, too.

 

Check Rebecca out on her website: www.rebeccamckernan.com

Facebook: facebook.com/beccatellstales

Twitter: twitter.com/beccatellstales.

 

And don’t forget to pop over to Amazon and check out the audiobook!

Танос

Ultimate Guide to Villains and Antagonists: Dark Lord/Supervillain

Sauron.

The White Witch.

Emperor Palpatine.

Names that bring to mind one goal: the rule the world, universe, or galaxy in an iron fist. Their impressive powers enable them to seize control and maintain an unbreakable grip on the world. All that stands between them and total dominion is one plucky hero or protagonist.

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Dark Lord/Supervillain: The Origin

The Dark Lord and All-Powerful Supervillain is a villain for two simple reasons:

  1. They seek to take away that which we value most: freedom and free will. Sauron wants to rule the world and uses the power of The One Ring to control all the other Ring-Bearers. Emperor Palpatine desires a much more benevolent dictatorship (ruled by the Sith), but there is no less sharp a sword driving it, as witnessed by the destruction of Alderaan when Princess Leia refuses to reveal the location of the rebel base.
  2. They use brutal, bloodthirsty, and dark methods to achieve their ends. Empress Jadis of Charn, the White Witch, uses an icy winter to keep the world of Narnia firmly under her control. Darkseid of DC Comics destroys worlds or turns them into a twisted, hellish landscape ruled by his evil minions.

Most Dark Lord and Supervillain types will have evil minions and henchmen working for them, and they will tend to follow darker philosophies, such as “Might is Right” and “The Ends Justify the Means”.

Some Dark Lords, like Sauron, tend to be Ancient Forces of Evil, driven by their evil nature or desires. Others, however, will have a tragic backstory that led them down the road to becoming “evil”. Like Darth Vader, the character that starts out as a Dark Lord or Supervillain may actually be redeemable.

They tend to be either the ultimate antagonists (the ones seeking to destroy/rule the world), or they will be tapping into the “evil” forces (of Entropy/Chaos or Ancient Evils) to achieve their ends.

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In Stories:

This is one of the most popular villain types, and has been used by countless stories:

  • Voldemort from Harry Potter is the most classic and one of the best-known Dark Lord types. It’s even his name!
  • The Dark Lord in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy pretty clearly falls into this villain type, though it’s nicely deconstructed in a unique way by the end of the story.
  • Darken Rahl in Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series is another classic example of a Dark Lord.
  • Marvel Comics’ Apocalypse and Thanos are both examples of Supervillains.

Desire meets raw, untapped power and a broken moral compass, and you end up with this villain type.

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One Year Ends, Another Begins

The New Year is always a time for contemplation—both on the things achieved in the previous 365 days and at all one intends to accomplish in the year to come. I want the first blog post of 2018 to be both a recap of last year and a look forward at what’s in store.

A Look Back at 2017

2017 was an amazing year in so many ways!

I published four books:

Considering I had published one book the year before, that’s a huge accomplishment for me!

I also got A LOT of writing done during that time. The books I wrote during 2017 include:

  • Thief of the Night Guild
  • Queen of the Night Guild
  • Hero of Darkness Book 4
  • Silent Champions Book 1
  • 10 short stories (between 4,000 to 50,000 words)
  • Traitors’ Fate

All told, that’s about 500,000 words written in one year. Quite an awesome output, given it’s my third year of writing.

I also:

  • Attended CondorCon in San Diego
  • Attended StokerCon in Long Beach
  • Attended InDScribe in Burbank
  • Won a RONE Award for Best Fantasy/Sci-Fi Novel
  • Had short stories published in three anthologies
  • Started The Fantasy Fiends Podcast and met dozens of amazing authors

On top of that, I invested a great deal of time and effort into learning the ropes of marketing, advertising, and everything else that goes into being an indie author. All of this has put me in the position I want/need to be in to make 2018 an amazing year professionally speaking.

On a personal note, 2017 had its ups and downs. I have seen my children mature and grow into young men and women that I am very proud of. I have seen my wife do AMAZING things ranging from small (keeping her temper in check when one of our kids is being a monster) to great (being promoted and receiving commendations at her job).

I feel more in love with my wonderful wife than ever, and I understand my children a lot more than I did this time last year. That doesn’t mean the year was without its challenges—VERY much on the contrary—but I am a happier, more content man than I was last year.

A Look Forward at 2018

I am incredibly excited for everything 2018 has to bring for me.

On the professional side, I have a busy schedule of projects to complete:

  • January 31st is the release of Queen of the Night Guild, the final book in my Queen of Thieves trilogy.
  • Mid-February will be the release of Traitors’ Fate, a book that bridges the gap between my two series
  • Late March will be the release of Ragged Heroes: A Fantasy Anthology, which I am organizing.
  • May through August will mark the relaunching of the series formerly known as The Last Bucelarii, known henceforth as Hero of Darkness. The first three books will be released in May and June, with the last three books releasing July through August. That means writing at least another 250,000 words to complete the series.
  • I also intend to finish the rough drafts of all three The Silent Champions trilogy novels, with the goal of publishing them in early 2018.

Of course, there’s always the hope that one of my books will win an award or help me hit best-seller status. I also intend to continue studying the marketing and advertising side of things so I can continue to make the transition to full-time writing off the money earned through selling my books.

I have also been presented with a potential job opportunity that, if it works out, could free me up to focus a lot more time on my writing. However, I won’t know for certain until April or May.

On a personal note, 2018 is going to be a big year for my family and myself. We will be making a big move, one that will take me away from my home for at least a month. It’s going to require a hefty investment of time to make the move, but it will hopefully provide a great future for my kids.

 

All in all, I’m incredibly eager to dive into 2018 and see everything it’s going to bring. I hope you continue to join me along my journey—both personal and professional—as we take advantage of the brand new 365 (now 364) days that this year has to offer.

Happy New Year to you all!

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