October 31, 2012

Interview with YA Misfit Chessie Zappia

Today, I get to share an interview with YA writer Chessie Zappia, who blogs over at Zap's Lobster Tank about writing and books. Basically, Chessie is kind of the shizz.

The interview topic is antagonists, which is something I love talking about. Hope you guys enjoy her answers as much as I do!

Lori: What do you think is the single-most threatening or terrifying aspect of a memorable villain?

Chessie: Hey, Lori! Thanks for having me. For me, the most threatening/terrifying aspect of my favorite villains is that tiny little detail--something they repeatedly do or say--that is so obviously them. Darth Vader? BREATHING. Dude needs help with that respirator. But when you hear that kwooo-pwahhh you KNOW who it is. And you know the Force is about to crush your esophagus.

Lori: Haha! That's a great detail I've never actually thought about. Who is your favorite book villain and why? And is there a villain you absolutely loathe?

Chessie: It's funny, because my favorite book villain is also the villain I positively loathe.

Dolores. Expletive. Umbridge.

I mean, COME ON. Her name means 'pain'! But what always killed me with her, the very moment I knew I hated her guts when she first said it, was her throat-clearing, sentence-interrupting hem-hem. Voldemort's bad and evil and nasty and all that jazz, but if Umbridge isn't the nastiest pink-wearing cat-loving toad-faced she-devil to ever emerge from a book, I don't know who is.

Lori: AGREE 100% Does your villain have that little detail, that repeated something about them, that might give readers the same reaction they would to Umbridge's 'hem-hem'? And, if it's not too spoilery, what is it?

Chessie: I actually can't think of it, except maybe the phrase that's written across his face and his clothes, which would be a dead giveaway for who he is, if anyone could read the script the phrase is written in. I think, once I actually have the chance to write him as a villain, that detail or trait will come out. I try not to think too hard about the small stuff when I'm in the drafting stage, because then things tend to sound forced. And the last thing you want to do when writing a villain is force things, because if you force something that should be terrifying, it ends up coming off as silly or hilarious instead.

Lori: What's your thought process when crafting a villain?

Chessie: Usually when I'm crafting a villain, the first thing I ask myself is "What do they want?" Every character needs motivation, villains especially. If your villain doesn't have a reason for doing what they do, they won't be nearly as threatening as they could be. Then I wonder what got them to the place they're at, and what shaped their methods. (I also find that the best villains often don't have villainous goals, but rather villainous methods to acheiving neutral goals. That is to say, they chose the Dark Side. [Or were forced to choose it, depending on the story. Oh look, backstory!])

Lori: Do you have a favorite villain among your own stories?

Chessie: Oh, but I do. He's called The Spectator, and a lot of the stuff I've written actually shows you how he got the way he is. He's my favorite (among a lot of the others) because I think he's the best example of a villain who you can sympathize with, knowing everything he's gone through. I also think, at the end of the day, the reader won't really be sure if he was the villain, because A.) his goal isn't villainous, B.) he's fighting against forces stronger than himself, just like any main character, and C.) if they were in his position, would they do things any differently? Could they?

Thanks again for having me! And for everyone else, don't forget to check out the other YA Misfits' posts here.


Chessie is always full of writing wisdom :) As she said, please don't forget to check out the other posts!

Happy Halloween! ♥

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