Welcome to the second blog post about the roots of the characters in Badlands.
The first post looked at the creation of the book’s protagonist, Willow and can be read here. In this post, I’ll look at how I created the main antagonist, The Reverend Richard Goddard.
Most of my ideas come from places I visit or articles I read. Occasionally someone I see out and about will spark off a new story, and very often my interests outside of writing show up in my work also.
I very rarely get my ideas from dreams, but that’s exactly how the Reverend Richard Goddard, chief antagonist in Badlands, came about.
In the dream, I was a copper in the town of Newquay, pursuing a bunch of petty thieves through the streets. In the way of dreams, the viewpoint shifted, and suddenly I was one of the thieves reporting back to their boss.
Their boss was a dog-collar wearing Reverend who hid his nefarious ways behind his saintly public image.
He didn’t have a name. That came later. But the template of the character was there fully formed and he fit perfectly with the ideas in development for Badlands at that point.
A few things changed; I gave him long hair, a beard, and a surfer vibe. His network of petty thieves became a gang of smugglers and drug runners known as The Chosen.
In keeping with Goddard’s biblical background, all of the inner circle of The Chosen were given angelic nicknames. The only exception to this was his chief enforcer; the blood-thirsty and merciless Raven.
When it came to writing, a weird thing happened. I’m a visual writer, in that I see the characters in my head as I write.
As I wrote Goddard’s character I found myself “seeing” two different characters depending on which facet of the character was on show in that scene; a “light” version in scenes with Willow where he’s manipulating her, and a “dark” version in scenes with Raven and the Chosen where he’s up to all sorts of criminal activities.
Of course, this is exactly as Goddard should be. There is a Jekyll & Hyde quality to Goddard, and this juxtaposition between beauty and danger is reflected on other characters and settings throughout the story.
When it comes to creating antagonists in my fiction, I always have some sympathy for my devils. There’s tragedy at the heart of Goddard’s story, and like so many villains before him, Goddard’s road to hell is paved with good intentions.
He began as a figure in a dream, but he has become so much more.
Though not the most brutal character in Badlands, he is the story’s dark heart, and the architect of all that befalls Willow.
Badlands is available to pre-order on eBook now.
See the Badlands Launch Page on my website for details of the online launch live-steam event taking place at 7pm GMT on Friday 21st January.