Amy C. Blake’s new release in the On the Brink YA Suspense Series!

Amy Blake's new YA Christian suspense titled Colorblind

Just about this time last year, I read Amy C. Blake’s YA Christian suspense novel, Whitewashed, and told you all about it.

I’m excited today to share with you that she’s released the second book in this On the Brink series, called Colorblind.

I’ll let Amy tell you more about the series and about the new book. Here’s Amy:

The On the Brink series follows three homeschooled friends–Patience, Christy, and Natalie–as they step into adulthood. Since each book tells only one girl’s story, the books can be read in any order. You can buy Colorblind and Whitewashed in both e-book and paperback on Amazon. I hope you’ll pick up your copies today!

Here’s a little more about Colorblind:

Eighteen-year-old Christy Kane has always been Daddy’s princess. But on the first day of her music internship at his mega-church, reporters shatter her world with terrible news: Daddy’s had an affair with the church preschool director. Christy feels as betrayed by God as the man she’s always considered Prince Charming.

When Mom sends her to Buckeye Lake to help with Aunt Jo’s School of Music and Dance in the restored Pier Ballroom, Christy’s problems only increase. First, the ballroom sits on Buckeye Lake, making her face her greatest fear—water. Second, she must help lead a handful of semi-talented volunteers, who harbor racial tensions and mysterious underlying antagonisms, in a professional quality performance for the Grand Reopening of the ballroom. The stakes are high—Aunt Jo will lose the place if they fail. Third, Christy discovers a diary written by Lillian, who lived near Buckeye Lake in the 1920s, and becomes intrigued by the stories of thousands coming to play at the amusement parks and dance in the ballrooms. But her interest soon turns to concern as tragic events from the diary happen in Christy’s world, ninety years to the date of their first occurrence.

Between her shattered past, her uncertain future, and her dangerous present, Christy doesn’t know where to turn. Does Daddy’s God really exist? If so, does He care enough to rescue her?

Amy Blake, author of Whitewashed.
Amy Blake

About Amy:

Award-winning author Amy C. Blake is a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mother of four. She has an M.A. in English from Mississippi College and has written articles, devotionals, and short stories for a number of publications. You can connect with her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter. She’d love for you to visit her website at amycblake.com for tips on homeschooling, advice for the rookie pastor’s wife, and helps for the Christian life. You can also find more information on her website about her novels–Whitewashed, Colorblind, and The Trojan Horse Traitor.

 

 

 

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How Do you Like Your Villains? Part II of Writing Good Villains

Tom Riddle from Harry Potter, a young sociopath?
Young Tom Riddle from Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince, Warner Bros.

Awhile back, I wrote a post about writing good villains. In that one, I talked about villains in books, TV, or movies that start out evil, but somehow become sympathetic to us. We end up rooting for them–and hopefully they become redeemed.

I always intended to write villains like that. I love stories of redemption, and figured I would always write villains who had a good reason for turning bad and would ultimately find their way back.

But something interesting happened a few years ago. I was writing my first suspense/murder mystery type book (Summer’s Winter), and I decided to start reading a lot of true crime novels for ideas–and for authenticity. I started noticing that a lot of the perpetrators in the true crime books were labeled “sociopaths.”  I also started noticing there wasn’t much remorse or redemption in these real-life characters. That made me curious…what exactly is a sociopath*?

Sociopaths as Story Villains

Since I work in a library, it took me about ten seconds to find an interesting book on the subject: The Sociopath Next Door: The Ruthless Versus the Rest of Us by Martha Stout. Wow, it was an eye-opener.

Sociopaths share a number of traits. They’re usually charming. They’re manipulative. They lack a normal conscience and also lack the ability to love…or to even experience most other complex emotions.  They may play games and seek thrills just to try to feel some elusive emotion. Worst of all, researchers are finding that sociopaths’ brains have actual physiological differences which makes it almost impossible for them to change. Stout says the most success at reforming sociopaths comes from persuading them to alter their behavior, by making them see how that benefits their self-interests. But their minds and motivations stay the same.

Here’s a powerful excerpt from Stout, describing a hypothetical sociopath she calls Skip:

Skip does not spend any time searching for someone to love. He cannot love. He does not worry about friends or family members who may be sick or in trouble, because he cannot worry about other people. .. But there is one thing Skip can do, and he does this one thing better than almost anyone else: Skip is brilliant at winning. He can dominate. He can bend others to his will. When he was a boy, the frogs died when he decided they should die, his sister screamed when he wanted her to, and now he has gone on to bigger and better games. 

In terms of writing villains, the first thing that jumped into my head when I read about Skip was…Voldemort!

As I was reading the Harry Potter series and Rowling started to take us into Voldemort/Tom Riddle’s terrible family situation, his early life as an abandoned orphan, I figured we would be led to see where he was changed from a normal boy simply by terrible circumstances. We would see where he went off the rails and empathize with him and cheer for him to get back on track.

Instead, we saw a little orphan boy who loved to play games with the other children, loved to torment them, loved to win.

All this reading about sociopaths definitely affected my writing of the bad guys in Summer’s Winter and  Jordan’s Shadow. Yep, there’s a definite sociopath in each. So on my next books I’ll need to try something new. I’ve set myself the task of writing a character as complex as Severus Snape…although he might be villain OR hero, or anti-hero. Either way, I’ve set myself a huge challenge!

*There isn’t an official psychiatric diagnosis of sociopathy. The official term is “antisocial personality disorder.” Also, you may be more familiar with the term “psychopath”–another unofficial term for antisocial personality disorder. I found a lot of explanations for the difference between sociopath and psychopath, including degree, or whether the cause is genetic or environmental, or whether you’re coming from criminal justice or sociology. For my discussion, I’m just going to use the term sociopath.

 

 

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