Yeah, back to villains. You could say I’m obsessed.
I came upon a short newspaper interview – there’s an embedded video, as well – with Emma Donaghue, author of Room, Slammerkin and Frog Music. She explains why she’s drawn to stories with a great deal of darkness.
The how is what gets me. I think I’ve figured out a way to do it. Another way, that is.
First, you could know evil/psychopathy – because where do you draw the line, really? since dysfunctional brains produce stark and horrifying results – on a personal basis. You’ve experienced these people day-to-day or during a lengthy interview.
Second, read up on it. Lots of great nonfiction books out there dissecting crime and the people who do it.
Third way is to draw from within. Some writers say, hey, my foul characters, they’re all part of me! Maybe they’re telling the truth, maybe they’re scamming.
Then there’s this: Someone once said that the brain processes of criminals are straightforward and logical, they just derive from unacceptable premises (e.g., “I’m bored, I need entertainment, I’m entitled” – the top three excuses men in an Asian survey gave for why they rape). Keeping that in mind is incredibly helpful these days as I write about the indefensible actions of a man to whom other people are not important. Call it psychopathy, call it narcissistic personality disorder. This guy thinks, “I’m more important than anyone else, so when I want something, people in my way are a hindrance and can be shoved aside, if I can do it without getting caught”. Yeah, nice guy. I’m learning with each scene how to think like him.
It’s a lot like acting, including the need to de-role. Don’t want to find myself shoving other people aside, setting the bar low for my behavior.
I’m finding it’s sort of a costume. As it gets easier to slip on and off, so do the others. The refugee teenager with many sisters and a worried, strict mother. The BFF, an ex-pat in a culture quite different from hers. Less a question of how they think than what they value. What is their premise? Actions, words, secrets, all lead from that.