Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Evil Research

Seriously evil characters are hard to create.  Mainly because you have to get in their head.  You have to think what they think, and feel what they feel, and this is depressing. 

C.S. Lewis himself admitted that it was hard to put himself in that frame of mind while writing "The Screwtape Letters".

I've noticed that many authors describe the actions of those who are evil or bad.  They in essence prove it by their actions, they might even explain what triggered this person's evil tendencies.  But what if they had no motive?  Are they just crazy? Deranged? Psychopaths?

For inspiration, I turned to several of the classics that in my opinion, touch on the subject of evil.  I also wanted to research the lives of certain people that I consider to be quite puzzling and insane. 
I started my Evil research with Dante Alighieri's "Inferno".  I grew up with Dante's works gracing the bookshelves in my home, that I often scanned while looking for something good to read. 

Gustave Dore's illustrations of "The Divine Comedy", always caught my eye.  But I never dared pick them up, they looked too...well...dry. 
But when it came time to do this research, I just couldn't resit the title, "Inferno"! 

I found Inferno to be extremely enjoyable, like a treat.  Not a page turner, but definitely something that you pick up when you want to treat your senses.  I also learned a lot about the "evil guys" from the period.  I found the people that Dante thought as evil, to be hilarious.  He pretty much sent all the politicians to hell, most of them being Popes. 

I also enjoyed all the diverse punishments that he subjugated the souls in each level of hell.  His poetic justice was impeccable. 

The other classic works that I read, were "The Screwtape Letters" and "Macbeth".  I really loved C.S. Lewis' wit and sarcasm, from the two devil's point of view.  And I absolutelly adore the three witches from "Macbeth".  In fact I love that play, period. Lady Macbeth, roaming the castle, trying to wipe away the stains from her hands...Macbeth...slowly going insane.  Good stuff.

For a few years now, and don't ask me why, I've been curious about two particular people.  Lorenzo De Medici (Il Magnifico) and Rasputin. 

I actually watched a great documentary on the Medici family called "Medici The Godfathers of the Renaissance" a PBS show that follows the family throughout their reign in Florence.  

From there, I took off on my own, researching on-line some of the more particular details about their upbringing and in particular one of their tutors, Marcilio Ficino, a philosopher and astrologer who believed that all power can be harnessed through the cosmos. 

Finally I read a fun book, for kids actually, about Rasputin.  "Wicked History: Grigory Rasputin" 
My kids and I have read a few of these books, Genghis Khan and Vlad the Impaler. But I found Rasputin to be particularly interesting.  And he fueled my imagination. 

He was a mystic and a monk.  A perplexing creature who looked like a hobo, indulged in all kinds of excesses and whose predictions were often right.  Someone who entrenched himself into the lives of the most powerful family in Russia, and called all the shots from a dubious sideline. 
He was also hard to a cockroach. He was poisoned, stabbed, dropped into a frozen river and still he didn't die of drowning.  He froze to death. 

So for my next book "Living Soul", I based my twisted character on a weird compilation of these four sourses.  Spooky, huh?

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