As a writer of thrillers, I often flinch when I have to create a scene that depicts the type of character, and the level of violence, that we all fear meeting up with in real life. But without that twisted, damaged character that sends chills up my back and makes me look behind doors at night, I wouldn’t be able to write about the bravery and heroics of the character who, despite adversity (and usually some very bad luck) overcomes her own flaws to save the day.
How boring Stephen King’s book, It, would be without Pennywise the Clown. And would we have cared about Clarice Starling quite so much in Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs if she wasn’t going up against monsters like Buffalo Bill and Hannibal Lecter? Both books were written decades ago, but the authors created such terrifying characters that they left an indelible impression on me and the millions of people who read, and probably had nightmares about, these books.
I’ve always been fascinated by the parallels and contrasts between people who are evil and do horrific things and those who struggle courageously to overcome evil and do amazing things. In my books, I try to weave that contrast of dark and light throughout the plot and the complex characters who, I hope, will stay with you once you’ve put the book down.
Melinda Woodhall is the author of the page-turning Mercy Harbor Thriller series. She also writes women's contemporary fiction as M.M. Arvin..