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Oh, How I Loathe Thee, Black Jack Randall

You should probably be warned that I’ll do my best to post some eye candy at the beginning of every blog. No, it rarely has anything to do with the blog. But looking is fun, no? (And apparently I have a thing for asses lately.)

Now to the topic at hand: villains. They bring out the best in our heros and heroines. They are the antithesis of all that’s good and right with the world. They are the darkness and the devil, often in a pretty package, and we love, love, love to hate them. So who’s my ultimate villain? Allow me to introduce you to Black Jack Randall, the darkest villain I’ve ever encountered.

Black Jack Randall is an English soldier, a Captain I believe, in the 1700’s. He is solely the product of the brilliant and talented mind of Diana Gabaldon, my hero. Jack Randall is one of the first characters we meet in her book Outlander, the opening to the series she began with Jamie Frasier and Claire Randall. Is Claire married to Jack? No. He’s her 1940’s husband’s several times great-grandfather. But the connection is there–until he assaults her and she figures out he’s a sadist.

What makes Jack Randall such a wonderful villain? The list seems endless as I write to you. He’s a dark, tortured soul, one who seems incapable of any type of compassion or empathy, let alone love. He is a rapist and the worst sadist you can imagine. He is fiercely attracted to Jamie Frasier, not only physically but psychologically. He wants to break our hero and he comes damned close to doing it. It was in that moment in the book, when Jamie was at his lowest, that I knew true hate for a character. Why? Because I was, and am, madly, truly, hopelessly in love with Jamie. I want him. I covet him. I cherish him. And that’s what makes the villain so effective–Diana has created a hero we truly love. It is that passion for the hero that brings the villain to life.

Jack Randall’s darkness, his sadism, would be horrible in and of itself, no doubt. But the fact he has a laser-like focus on our hero is what makes him so easy to hate. You root for Jamie and Claire, you boo and hiss at Jack, and you hold your breath every time the two men are on the page together. I have rarely cried because of a villain’s actions, but Jack Randall turned my stomach and made me weep.

I once heard Diana speak. She talked about a tea she attended where the ladies were discussing how evil Jack Randall was, and Diana grinned at us, her current crowd of apt listeners. She took on a delightful grin and said she enjoyed the conversation, but was surprised at one thing. Didn’t the ladies know that she was Jack Randall? He had come from inside her?

It struck me then that every villain I write has some component of me, from a gram to a metric ton of my influence and personality. It’s made it harder for me to write my villains because who wants to acknowledge the dark inside us? But it’s there, waiting for us to make it manifest in the form of our characters. I suppose I should get back to my current villain, a goddess intent on taking over the world and killing both my hero and heroine. Hmmm. World domination? Who knew I had it in me?

Until we meet again, read and be happy.

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