GIVEAWAYS: (3) $10 Amazon gift cardsPlease leave Linda a comment below or anywhere along the tour, for your chance to win one of her awesome giveaways!
What would you do if you were the daughter of a cult hero who boasted a past life full of exciting, colorful exploits?
Suppose the thing that made your mother a cult hero was also inside you.
Now, imagine spending your whole life trying to hide it—until you shared the heart stopping death of someone close to you.
Supposed that death brought you face to face with the gift of the neon houses.
New Chicago and its neighboring town, The Southland, are vastly different worlds in circa 2087, but Dr. Noel Kennedy is an expert at navigating both worlds. As the Deputy Chief of Schools in The Southland, Noel has perfected being a solid, middle-class citizen. Not even her husband, Fredrick Kennedy, truly understands what she is.
When Zarah Fisher, Noel’s young protégé, is murdered on a deserted street in The Southland, Noel knows the exact moment Zarah takes her last breath. Though miles away, Noel feels the girl’s terror, and hears her anguished screams inside her own head because of an inheritance that has left her with extraordinary gifts.
Can Noel find justice for Zarah without risking it all? Murder, mayhem, and suspense abound in this action-packed page-turner. More than a mystery, The Neon Houses thrills the reader with scenes of a futuristic 2087. Autoplanes, body planes, and flying buses are the norm. Robots and androids cook, clean, and serve the affluent, while dystopia lurks just around the corner.
How My Bad Guy Stole the Show
Beta-readers wanted more of my bad guy. These crazy people even suggested that my heroine fall for him in a sick triangle where he’d take her away from her husband. I had to explain romance formula rules. The heroine always, always remains faithful.
I couldn’t have him be more popular than my heroine’s beloved. So, I purposely made the bad guy unattractive. I gave him a large forehead that protruded well over his cosmetically changed, blue eyes—eyes that appeared almost neon against his dark skin color. Even his muscled physique was medically enhanced by body sculpting and not actually working out. Despite that, they loved him.
How did I make him so popular
Before the readers even met him, I had other characters talk about him, setting the stage with ominous anticipation of what he’d be. Characters described him as obnoxious, but not forthright. They neither sympathized nor admired him. He was a heartless, manipulative guy who always acted in his best interest.
I gave him conflicting character traits. He wasn’t honest, but he wasn’t dishonest. He wasn’t murderous, yet he’d kill when he had to or was provoked. He had reasons for who he was, which I buried in a scene that allowed the readers to glimpse his troubled childhood and reveal that childhood to the heroine.
I Had to Become a Bad Guy
Though I patterned my bad guy after actual criminals I’d read about or seen on television, that wasn’t enough. I really got inside his head. I wrote as if I had not been raised by decent parents who’d taught me better.
I asked myself, if I were a criminal, how would I do it? I let my mind go there and the process was interesting. It helped me create a bad guy who was multi-faceted, and I put him right out front because I understood what drove him.
When creating your own bad guy, make sure:
- He’s a worthy adversary and smart enough to make your protagonist work
- He’s worthy of every scene he’s in. In fact, make him a scene-stealer.
- Readers empathize with him, even if they can’t sympathize or condone.
- There’s a motivating factor for his bad actions? Revenge and restitution are powerful reasons for taking the law into your own hands.
Excerpt: It was too late for Noel to do anything except fight, and the two men coming toward her were about to get stunned to hell. She knew from practice to wait until she saw the whites of their eyes, but as they approached, she recognized one of them. It was Warren Simpson, and he was smiling.
“Hey, Boss Lady,” he shouted and waved. “I just saved your tail. Now I need you to return the favor.”
Things were getting weird. Noel wanted to aim her stunner at Warren Simpson, but her cousin Charlize was in her head saying, It’s okay, Auntie Joy. He’s safe.
Okay, Charlize, she thought, use your new superpowers, because I’m a little worried.
Noel wasn’t getting out of her car, and she was also keeping her stunner right where it was—inside her pocket, with her finger on the trigger.
“You gonna make me stand out here in this stiff wind?” Warren asked.
He walked around to the passenger side and motioned for Noel to unlock the door. “You’re not scared I’m gonna hurt you, are you?” Warren said as he climbed in beside her.
“I’ve lived a pretty full life,” she said.
Warren laughed. “That’s why I like you, Boss Lady.”
Despite her fear, Noel rolled her eyes at him.
“Noel, Noel, Noel,” Warren said with a shake of his head. “We”—he pointed between the two of them—“are in some serious trouble.”
“What do you mean we?” Noel asked.
“Somebody wants to pin Earl Gibbs’s murder on me, and you put yourself in it when you brought him to my home.”
She could see why he thought she had a part in this, but he did too. “For all I know, you sent your nephew to me. Maybe you had him provoke Earl into declaring his candidacy too soon so you could find out his intentions and kill him,” she said.
They sat in silence for a minute.
Finally, he asked, “Why are you riding around like this is well-to-do Sheridan Road? Gang Territory is dangerous after hours. This isn’t your Reading Night at the Park with all your New Chicago cops to protect you.”
“My kids know me,” she said.
“In the daytime, but not at night. Go home, Noel. You don’t belong here. I’ll leave my guys on you until you’re safe. If anybody trails you tomorrow, I’ll take care of ’em and you won’t even know it.” He flashed a row of gleaming, square white teeth and rolled his genetically modified blue eyes. “Now relax and take your hand off your stunner.”
Noel smiled because she couldn’t think of anything to say.
Simpson chuckled as he opened the car door and climbed from her transpo. His coat flapped in the wind as he saluted her and sauntered away.
Linda Mims is a writer, a dreamer, and an educator, who hails from a quiet village just south of Chicago. Her stories are mainly about urban characters who are engaged in mystery and mysticism. Her hope is that while entertaining and informing, she’s also sending the message that humans aren’t that different and all each of us want is a better world.
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