It's no secret that writers have to delve into their characters' minds in order to be true to them. Amy Tan puts on a new pair of shoes for each identity she writes about; I listen to music and think really, really hard. But you also have to do the research. Notice all the psychology links on my page? This is where bad guys start to cause problems. When you think and write as your villain, your villain starts to invade your head, which makes being an author quite creepy at times.
Due to the subject matter of my last book, I've had a pedophile running around in my brain. Yuck. Most of the scenes I wrote for this guy had to be deleted the first time because he's so disgusting. I found that it's quite easy to write horror and evil once you've read the reports; the hard part is doing it with restraint so that your reader is intrigued and worried but not slamming the book shut in disgust. In other words, the reader gets the abridged, TV-clean version of the bad guy, while I'm stuck with a full-frontal offender. That's not a nice thing to live with.
So you learn to cope. You listen to different music for your other "good" characters, you read lots of books "for fun" after work, and you take lots of breaks from your project. Remember the song lyrics I changed, turning them into fairy tales? Or the Madame Zorba contest I entered? Both of those were intentional diversions to escape my madman.
Still, I don't think I'll ever write a villain this degenerate again. It showed me just how sick and suggestive the mind can be. Without discipline, a person could get really screwed up thinking about the wrong things for a prolonged period of time. I feel bad for law enforcement workers who have to deal with this daily. Besides, I've been worried lately. With all the Internet research I do for my characters, there are some pretty bad searches recorded on my computer. I was laughing with the hubby the other night that if the police ever confiscated my computer, I would be hauled off to jail. What can you say when you've visited sites on pedophiles, child abuse, women's shelters, schizophrenia, duplicate identity disorder, off-shore accounts, money shelters and various travel sites? It wouldn't take long to link all that into a story with a bad ending for me. Yeah, I think I'll concentrate on my romantic heroes from here on out. That research is a lot more fun, and have you noticed, those characters are SO MUCH CUTER. Happy reading!