I’m going over Blackthorne, my upcoming release, before publication next month. The story is a contemporary fantasy about an amnesiac dark lord from another universe who is befriended by a teenage girl in ours.
I had fun writing this book. The point of view shifts back and forth between 17-year-old Ro Cheney and Blackthorne (called the Storm Lord in his own world).
The interplay of viewpoints created some interesting contrasts: Ro’s view of Blackthorne as someone lost and hurt and alone versus how very dangerous he is; Blackthorne, a monstrous tyrant in his own world versus Ro’s father, who tyrannizes his family and holds Ro in a thrall of fear; Blackthorne’s enemies from his own world, who should be the good guys, but who are the antagonists.
Blackthorne is my favorite character I’ve written so far. Villains and dark characters have always appealed to me. I find them much more intriguing than the noble, cleft-chinned hero. I’m also fascinated by the many facets of the human mind– what can go wrong, the strange twists and turns people can make in their lives.
When I first started writing the story, I knew how Blackthorne would change. But I soon thought, “Wait a minute. How can this guy who’s so evil and destructive and basically sociopathic change into someone benevolent and protective?” I liked the idea, but it didn’t seem realistic.
By happenstance, I began reading about the Enneagram theory of personality types. When I came to the Enneagram’s Type 8 personality, my hair stood on end. Because this is exactly the trajectory this personality type takes between health and unhealth. An unhealthy Type 8 can be the most destructive sociopath, but a healthy 8 has the potential to create equally great good in the world.
In another bit of synchronicity while I was writing Blackthorne, I read “What Psychopaths Teach Us about How to Succeed” in Scientific American Mind. To quote the article by Kevin Dutton, author of The Wisdom of Psychopaths:
What if I were to tell you that the arsonist who burns your house down might also, in a parallel universe, be the hero most likely to brave the flaming timbers of a crumbling, blazing building to seek out, and drag out, your loved ones?
In a parallel universe. With that imagery, you can imagine my hair went up again. I wasn’t just creating some writerly invention.When he loses his memory, the traits that made the Storm Lord a destroyer of his world– fearlessness, ruthlessness, persuasiveness, supreme confidence– give Blackthorne the chance to become a generous and powerful protector.
Even so, what made him the Storm Lord is still a part of Blackthorne. Let him feel threatened, and that part is just waiting to take over. I won’t tell you if it does. 🙂