One of my greatest writing weaknesses is my inability to create compelling antagonists/evil/darkness. I’ve written (or written a significant amount of) over twenty-seven books. Most of which were put on the back burner because I don’t believe in my evil.
Most Urban Fantasy or Modern Fantasy or High Fantasy pits evil against good. The strongest plot-driven books generally reinforce the dark forces as, simply, evil. I identify most with evil, therefore, I am evil. I know of many exceptions, but one of my biggest uphill battles has been getting into the collective head of evil.
It Gave Me a Name, and by extention, how I write, focuses on darkness as darkness.
Soren, my main character, isn’t as good as he used to be. He’s pretty busted, actually. He’s at war with himself and his stance on humanity, his past, and the weakness of sanity. He’s no shining white light in a pit of darkness; if anything, he is the source of some of the darkness. He has no zealous bone to his body. In fact, he’s more a self-serving, intellectual, psychic scientist than soldier, warrior, or fighter. He has no problem running, no problem fighting dirty, no problem hurting good people in the process: why? He feels everyone, good-natured or not, is a danger to him. Anyone he lets close, or he helps, becomes his responsibility. A little hurt, for Soren, is much better than a lot of hurt. So he tries–and fails–at keeping people at arms’ reach. Needless to say, he will always do the right thing. (Classic Omega personality)
Jack, Soren’s mentor, is closer to Milton’s Darkness Tangible than anything concrete. He is thorougly self-serving, abusive, violent. He is a wisp: Soren doesn’t know whether Jack was born from Soren’s own dark past, or if Jack is a malignant spirit (mage, wizard, what-have-you) that wasn’t content with death. Nonetheless, Jack has ultimately trained Soren in all things supernatural, and in this way, Soren needs him. Or thinks he needs him. Jack does whatever he wants, and Soren calls him a vampire.
Beyond these two, the first book is filled with demons (not all are evil). Since Soren can’t tell a clear difference between a person and a demon, some of them are obscure (and everyone involved is a suspect).
Schoolboy, the child-like follower of a beseiged priest, chews on his own fist and trades “stories” for his protection. He says little, and is the most primal of the demons. A gatherer of information, he is easiest to understand, and the most dangerous.
Succubus/Watcher, a shapechanger with vast amounts of knowledge, she acts thoroughly benign. She has no problem telling Soren the future, what she’s doing, and why she does it. She offers her services at every opportunity. True to the trade, she gets something in return. She offers no direct resistence to Soren, and instead plays games with his mind. She is thoroughly honest and straightforward through the entire book. She feeds off the priest and the priest uses her to keep the memory of his one true love alive.
Holi Man, a preacher wearing a faded Hollister polo, he craves attention. He loves debate, fire, and double-meanings. He smokes incense and acts like a twisted father-figure, speaking of all the wrong virtues. An intellect, he loves talking about metaphorical upbringings and Hell. He exists outside of the church as well as within, and follows Soren around, hurting those he comes in contact with.
Tara, a manifestation of Soren’s dead lover, is Soren’s personal demon in the mix. She exists solely to confuse him and feed off his doubt. She seems to have all the memories of the real Tara, and never breaks personality. She puts Soren through hell by being a victim throughout the novel, a slave to the whim of the other three demons.
Ferrulous, an ancient scarab demon the size of a Volkswagon accidentally summoned by Jack’s request and Soren’s ritual, is trapped in Soren’s prison staff only to become a time-bomb of power. Soren must choose how to handle it and figure out Jack’s lesson before it breaks free on its own.
Random conflict with other, smaller characters also contribute to the overall conflict of the story.
They come together to create an ensemble of self-serving and ultimately destructive forces. Individually, none of the “evils” in the book are overwhelming. Soren can easily dispatch of any one of them (except for Succubus). Together they create a complicated family of self-actualized, realized demons. I made the book to reinforce that Soren’s greatest enemy is himself, and some things he can’t do alone.