Tag Archives: harry potter

Heroes and Villains

My wife convinced me to read the YA trilogy, The Hunger Games and I must say I'm pretty impressed. Being YA books they are a very fast read but the author does a great job of creating a complete world even though the books are unraveling at a breakneck speed.

The villain in the story is both the system and a character named President Snow (who I invariably picture as Newt Gingrich), but it raised interesting questions in my mind as to how books develop.

It is generally accepted that novels have to have a protagonist (hero) and an antagonist (villain) although sometimes the real villain is a system or way of life although that can also be embodied in a specific person. 

This was done wonderfully in the Hunger Games books just as J.K. Rowling managed to do in the Harry Potter series. Both President Snow and Voldemort are absolutely evil with no redeeming features, as opposed to a more sophisticated embodiment of evil such as Hannibal Lecter.

In my own books, I have one character in No' Chance, Silas, who is evil and I made no attempts to develop a reason for his evil or gave the reader any sympathy toward him. In Junebug and the Body, there is a villain (I won't give away who it is) that, while they're not evil, they are definitely the bad guy.

In The Bottle Tree, my personal favorite to write, I used a character to embody the racial atmosphere that existed in the Deep South as a way of life at that time. 

One of the new books I am working on, in addition to the second book in the Junebug and the second book in the Noah Chance series, is about methamphetamine use and the villain in that book is really the drug and poor choices in life.

What are your thoughts? Is one kind of villain preferable over the others?

I know many of my readers are also writers. If that is you, which type of villain do you prefer reading about and which do you prefer to write about?

Harry Potter and Nostalgia

I love reading and that love is probably one of the reasons I love writing.

When I was a kid I used to go down to my grandparent's house in Natchitoches, La. and spend every summer there. My grandparents lived outside of town a few miles and once a week or so my grandmother would go into town to buy groceries or shop. She never learned to drive and so it was usually a family trip involving assorted aunts or uncles and was an eagerly awaited affair.

I wasn't much on the shopping so they would drop me off at the library where I would bury myself in the books while sitting on a comfortable chair looking through the wall of glass onto Cane River. To this day, the smell of old books is still one of my favorite things (that and the feel of the book are the only things that make me prefer physical books over my Kindle). After picking out my stack of books I would go to the P & C Rexall Drugstore and get a chocolate ice cream cone (they used a ice cream scoop that made them square) and wait to be picked up, often spending part of the time reading comic books from the stand at the store.

These experience made it into my book, Junebug and the Body, and as I read it over and over doing edits it never failed to bring back those memories. I get the same feelings when I read one of the books that were available at the library. The Henry Reed series, Beverly Cleary's books about Henry Huggins, and, as I grew older, the S.E. Hinton books are sure to trigger memories.

I wonder if the kids raised on Harry Potter will experience the same sense of nostalgia? It is probably more common nowadays for parents to buy books for their children than it is for the kids to go to the library. I can remember every summer there was a reading contest at the public library with a party at the end. The winners, which usually included me (just like Junebug), were presented ribbons.

Harry Potter was the biggest thing to hit the world of children's books EVER but  I'm curious to see if that has long term effects on the industry or if children will gradually slide back into the world of video games and television with no time for the heroes of the printed word.

I hope not, because "leaders are readers" and the world is sorely lacking in independent minded imagination right now and we need a generation of people willing to "go on walkabout" and not just be lemmings.

A NOTE TO eBOOK AUTHORS:

When publishing on the Kindle I make it a point to  check the box to allow lending and I'd urge you to do the same. As writers we have at least a little duty to try and encourage people to read and some just don't have much extra money now. A plus is that by allowing at least some of your books to be loanedt you can pick up fans.