Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024
  • Rebecca Williamson Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/8/2024
  • Sheila Fernley Agent Spotlight Interview, Critique Giveaway, and One-Hour Zoom Call on 7/29/2024
  • Erica McGrath Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/12/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.

Write Your Villains Like Heroes by Author Shawn Peters and The Unforgettable Logan Foster Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have Shawn Peters back to share about his new MG, The Unforgettable Logan Foster and the Shadow of Doubt. I interviewed Shawn when his first book The Unforgettable Logan Foster, was released. His new book sounds even more action-packed than the first book, and I’m excited to read it.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Sometimes, it’s not so easy to tell the differences between good guys and the bad ones. Filled with superheroes, supervillains, and epic showdowns, The Unforgettable Logan Foster and the Shadow of Doubt is the thrilling second book in the acclaimed Logan Foster series from super-author Shawn Peters.

After using his photographic memory to defeat Necros and her minions, Logan has seen his life change completely. Now, the Multinational Authority for Superhuman Control (MASC) is keeping a close eye on everything he does in order to keep him out of Necros’s clutches.

But when Logan stumbles upon the fact that Necros was in the area on the very same day he became an orphan, he can’t help but wonder—is MASC hiding the truth about who his parents really are

When superheroes mysteriously start going missing, all signs point to the same supervillain who also may hold the clues to Logan’s past. Only Logan—along with his super-strong best friend, Elena, and their new bestie, Connie—can uncover the truth, find the missing superheroes, and stop Necros. Will Logan be able to save the day and uncover the truth about his birth parents before it’s too late It’s another action-packed Logan Foster adventure from super-author Shawn Peters.

Follower News

Before I get to Shawn's guest post, I have Follower News to share. Jean Davis has a new release,


Everyone Dies: A Collection of Dark Tales. Here's a blurb:  
Otherworldly creatures, the not-so-dearly departed, fellow man, and creations of our own demise patiently wait while we bumble through life, thinking we are in control. The end is always near. And here are a few buy links: 

Amazon
B&N
Direct from the author


Write Your Villains Like Heroes by Shawn Peters

When you write about superheroes like I did in my debut series, THE UNFORGETTABLE LOGAN FOSTER and THE UNFORGETTABLE LOGAN FOSTER AND THE SHADOW OF DOUBT, everyone wants to know who your favorite superhero of all time is.

Well, I’m not going to tell you the answer to that question here – though it’s easily found online if you listen to certain interviews--  because I don’t want to talk about heroes. At least, I don’t want to talk about the characters who are seen as heroes by the reader.

Instead, let’s talk about villains, and how to create really interesting ones.

For the first couple of millennia of human storytelling, villains were just… evil. The Wicked Witch of the West was just green and mean. Sauron wanted absolute power over Middle Earth. Dracula had a thing for sucking on necks, Shere Khan wanted to eat Mowgli just to be cruel, and Iago simply wants to ruin Othello’s life. You can go all the way back to The Devil, whose only motivation in the Bible and dozens of books since then is the misery of mankind.

 

But in recent times, “bad guys” are having a moment, because the really interesting ones are no longer being written like villains. Instead, they’re written like heroes who have gotten something important wrong, and that’s far more intriguing. Or course, this concept of a fully realized villain isn’t truly new. I can even remember when I learned about that idea.

I was a junior at Santa Monica High School, I was a drama geek, and I had just been cast in my first “bad guy” role. Not the main villain, mind you, but a real jerk who hurt and lied to the woman who loved and supported him. And to be clear, I was NOT doing a good job playing him. So, I went to my director and mentor, Dr. Frank Ford (after whom I named the character Dr. Francis X. Chrysler in my debut) and I asked him how to play a bad guy. I’ll never forget his response. He said, “You’re not a bad guy. No one can play a bad guy. You’re the hero of your story, and no one else understands that.”

Wow. That’s some heavy meta-empathetic mind candy to lay on a 16-year-old kid who is still two years away from needing a shave. But that idea became a massive driver in my life, both on the page and off it. The concept that very few, if any people, see their own actions as truly evil is frightening and powerful. It doesn’t excuse their actions, of course, but it does create more depth of understanding that goes beyond simply dividing the world into dark and light, wrong and right.

So how do you build a great villain, especially in the middle grade literature space? You simply give them everything you give your heroes… and maybe a bit more.

  • What is their origin story? Every hero has one—being bitten by a radioactive spider or being raised by awful parents who don’t recognize their daughter’s brilliance and abilities-- but then again, so should every villain. And that origin story isn’t just about how they gained powers or became special. It needs to be about what put them on a path to believing they were right and everyone else was wrong. It could be about how they were mistreated and decided to never be a victim again, or it might be about how they were tricked into doing something unforgivable and then realized they’d been manipulated. The point is, as an author, you have to know how things started for them, even if it’s not included in the book, or else you aren’t writing a character. You’re creating a caricature.
  • What are their powers? There are all kinds of power; money, strength, cunning, persuasiveness, x-ray vision, stealth, perceptiveness and a thousand others. The thing is, power itself is neither good nor bad. Only the use of those powers can have that kind of judgment attached to it. So regardless of whether you’re writing a super-villain in a sci-fi adventure or a bullying antagonist in a contemporary novel, give your antagonist a specific skillset that they could have possibly used in kind, benevolent ways under other circumstances.
  • What is their motivation? Even if a villain wants to destroy half the universe – see Thanos in the MCU—that isn’t their motivation. That’s the action they’re willing to achieve their goal. Their motivation is what they believe to be true. Thanos believed that overpopulation of the galaxy would lead to wars and tragedies that could eradicate all life if left unchecked. In Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, it turns out that Luke, a son of Mercury and ostensibly one of Percy’s friends, is actually trying to create war among the gods of Olympus so that Kronos can return. But Luke’s motivation isn’t any of that. He just wants revenge upon his neglectful father and feels powerless to get it any other way. And even in my debut, the nearly immortal Necros makes it clear that more than world domination, she wants to free superhumans from being controlled by MASC (the Multinational Authority for Superhuman Control). Why? Because they turned her into a villain because of her life-stealing powers. What does your villain want and why?
  • What is their weakness? If Superman wasn’t weakened by Kryptonite, he’d be the least interesting hero ever created because he’d be boringly perfect. The same goes for your villains. They have to have a weakness, though it doesn’t need to be something magical or super-rare. Pride can be a weakness, allowing your villain to be distracted or even tricked. Distrust is always a strong weakness for a villain because if they are underhanded and dangerous, they likely assume everyone else is too. The key is to make sure their weakness is somehow attached to the origin and motivation.

It may seem formulaic, but like any other checklist, it’s just a framework to make sure you’ve done your “chores” along the way. Because if you can answer all those questions as an author, that’s when your villain stops being just a plot device created to give your hero something to do. Instead, they become the hero of their own story, and for the reader, things get a lot more interesting.

Shawn Peters has written professionally for television and advertising for more than two decades. His debut middle grade novel, “The Unforgettable Logan Foster,” was published by HarperCollins in January 2022. The highly anticipated sequel, “The Unforgettable Logan Foster and the Shadow of Doubt,” was released on January 3, 2023. Shawn is married to a super­hero public school teacher and is also a father of two kids who are now both too old for his books or his jokes. Basically, he’s a suburban-dad trope-fest. After years of coaching his kids’ teams and playing old-man softball, he now spends his spare time jogging slowly, comparing IPAs with other dads, and making ultra-nerdy Dungeons and Dragons puns. Follow him @shawntweeters on Twitter and IG, or check-in for upcoming events and school visits at www.ShawnPetersWrites.com

Giveaway Details

Shawn is generously offering a hardback of The Unforgettable Logan Foster or The Unforgettable Logan Foster and the Shadow of Doubt, winner’s choice, for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by February 25th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog and/or follow me on Twitter or Shawn on his social media sites, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry for each. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This book giveaway is U.S. and Canada.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted by Greg Pattridge. You can find the participating blogs on his blog.

Upcoming Interviews and Guest Posts

Thursday, February 16 I’m participating in the Wish Big Giveaway Hop

Monday, February 20 I have an agent spotlight interview with Lori Steel and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, March 1 I have an interview with debut author Jenna Voris and a giveaway of her YA sci-fi Made of Stars and my IWSG Post

Thursday, March 2 I’m participating in the For the Love of Reading Giveaway Hop

Monday, March 6 I have an agent/author guest post by Lizz Nagle and J.A. Nielsen and a giveaway of J.A.’s YA fantasy The Claiming and a query critique giveaway by Lizz

Monday, March 13, I have an agent/author guest post by Sara Crow and Maria Jose Fitzgerald and a giveaway of Maria’s MG contemporary mystery Turtles of the Midnight Moon and a query critique giveaway by Sara

Monday, March 20 I have an agent spotlight interview with Kristen Terrette and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Thursday!

 

 

24 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good questions to ask when making a villain. They are indeed often someone who has just gotten it wrong and sometimes even thinks they are doing the right thing.

Katherine said...

Thought-provoking questions regarding villains. The Unforgettable Logan Foster sounds wonderful! khpinelake (at) gmail (dot)com

Danielle H. said...

I really enjoyed the questions to consider about a villain's motivation for their actions. I also am amazed at the theater director's answer about playing a villain. I read and loved the first book in this series and can't wait to read the second book. I follow the author on Instagram and Twitter as well as Natalie and shared on tumblr: https://at.tumblr.com/yesreaderwriterpoetmusician/write-your-villains-like-heroes-by-author-shawn/h88iyge0qcot

Charlotte said...

I enjoyed the first book lots, and am looking forward to the second!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Origins are very important.

This looks like a cute series.

Carol Baldwin said...

yes, good questions when creating a villain. You have lots going on, on your blog!

Brenda said...

Wonderful interview and lovin the take on creating a villain. I really enjoyed the first book and Logan's photographic memory. Happy MMGM, Natalie.

Kate Larkindale said...

Excellent points on writing a villain. Best of luck with the new release!

Patricia T. said...

What a really interesting interview! I love the advice Shawn was given tjat "no one can play a bad guy. You’re the hero of your story, and no one else understands that.” That sounds so freeing for the writer and opens up many new ways of looking at your characters/heros. Haven't read a Logan Foster book yet, but really need to check this series out for my almost 9-year-old grandson. He beginning to expand his reading. Thanks for sharing today.

Leela said...

I'm an email subscriber.

Anonymous said...

nursepooh1@aol.com thank you for a chance. I follow and will retweet on Twitter at @nursepooh1

Greg Pattridge said...

I've read and reviewed both books and I can attest they are worthy of your time. Logan Foster is truly one you won't forget. Love the villain advice from Shawn in seeing the hero qualities in them. Thanks for the giveaway but let someone else win who has not had the opportunity to read this series.

Computer Tutor said...

Very clever ideas, Shawn. Thanks for sharing.

traveler said...

Captivating and intriguing series which would be wonderful for my grandsons to enjoys they are avid readers. Creative author and very interesting interview.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Great giveaway and advice!
Amyhillmanwrites@gmail.com

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Excellent tips! I may not write super powered people, but even being a tight-wad out of fear could make for a good modern-day scrooge villain.

Sandra Cox said...

I like the idea of writing villains like heroes.
Happy Valentine's Day.

Anonymous said...

Such a great blog post as usual the information is helpful and timely. Thank you.

tetewa said...

I would love to get the first one in the series, sounds good!

Rosi said...

Wonderful interview. The information on villains is fascinating and so useful. Thanks for that. I will pass on the giveaway. I am just buried in books.

Unknown said...

Thank you Shawn. I'm inspired to create my own villain! :)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Natalie, I tried to respond to this earlier through email, but it didn't go through. This was such a wonderful interview, and I learned so much about creating a villain. Just brilliant advice - of course the villain would think of him/her/self as the hero of their own story, but I never looked at it that way. You always have such good interviews. Have a great day.

CJ Penko said...

Shawn's post was exactly what I needed to see right now. Thank you so much for sharing. Good bad guys are my jam! 👹🧌 I'll tweet also - such great advice.

Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction said...

Love this guest post! I agree that a villain has to be well fleshed-out.

Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction