“A Villain Named Angel”
For National Novel Writing Month this year, I’m writing a sequel to the tale I began last year, a young girl’s quest to prove she’s not a little kid anymore by joining her grandfather’s group of math and computer geeks seeking the pure mathematical formula for forgiveness. In the new story, this young girl (now a teenager) and her friends have to continue her grandpa’s work after he was killed in a car accident. And they’re looking for something more mysterious than forgiveness: they’re trying to find the way back from death. Unlike past years, this time around I had only the scantest idea of the story before I began to write. That’s okay, because I adore the adventure of a completely “pantsed” first draft. And it turns out, the most fun so far involves creating a brand new villain.
He came from nowhere, this villain; I hadn’t set out to find him. I thought the one from the first book would do just fine. Then, in the middle of the first week of NaNo, I sat down at a blank computer screen and began to describe Percival Langston Troy the Third. Yes, he’s the third man in his family saddled with that name, and in a way, that’s where his villainy begins. As a youngster, his name prompted other boys to torment him. He decided to change it. He wanted to call himself “Angel.” As he says: It was still odd, but I figured I might as well choose the oddity I’d become.
Angel’s determination to craft his own fate leads his father to disown him in the most humiliating way. It also provides the impetus for his career as the CEO of a high tech company. From the moment Angel’s father tells the young boy how “sickened” he is by his choice to discard the family name, Angel begins to turn into the villain who will turn fear loose in the world.
Where did all this come from? I’ve no idea, really. I didn’t know there was a physically imposing, fifty-something, treacherously snake-like corporate CEO lodged in my imagination. But then again, I didn’t know my imagination held any of the characters in my story until they showed up, sometimes in dreams, sometimes in reveries, and every once in a while, like Angel Troy, right on the computer screen. They seem to collect the words I’ll use to describe them, drawing these words around them like mist swirling around the pine trees on a cold, clear morning in our upper valley. Angel Troy is big, articulate, well-dressed, quiet, and entirely fearsome to those around him.
It should be fun to see how he stacks up against the protagonist, a fifteen year old girl with one quest already under her belt, a three-legged black Lab at her side, and all the determination born of her love for her grandpa taken too early from her. Creating these characters means I get to hang out with villains, heroines, dogs, and a lot more interesting people. At times like this, writing stories feels like the best job in the world.
Elizabeth Fountain left a demanding job as a university administrator in
Seattle to move to the small
town of ,
Washington, and pursue her dream of writing novels. Her first book, An Alien’s Guide to World Domination, was released by BURST Books
in 2013; and You, Jane, her second
novel, will be published in 2014. On her breaks from writing, Liz teaches
university courses, gives workshops on writing, spends time with family and
friends, and takes long walks in the diabolical Ellensburg
wind. Her quirkily humorous view of humanity is well-suited to tales of aliens
and angels, love and death, friendship and dogs. Kittitas Valley