Saturday, June 29, 2013

Guest Blog by Jennifer Harlow - I Heart Supervillains - June 29, 2013

Please welcome Jennifer Harlow to The Qwillery. Jennifer's latest novel is Justice.

(Note: If you haven't seen the latest Star Trek movie and have heard nothing about it skip the end of third full paragraph of the Guest Blog.)

I Heart Supervillains 

       “A hero is only as good as his villain.”

       I have a thing for monsters. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been drawn to “the dark side” of life. (Hence by blog’s name Tales From the Darkside). I loathe romantic comedies but devour horror movies. I’d choose an afternoon chat with Hannibal Lecter over a ball at Pemberly without a moment’s hesitation. There is absolutely no reason for this quirk of mine. I grew up in a supportive, middle class suburban background with parents who love me unconditionally, provided stability, taught me strong morals and even honor, and knock wood never had violence or crime invade my life. Yet at least creatively I’ve always gravitated to monsters, even routing for them (at least the fictional ones) over the heroes. And if Tumblr is any indication, I am not the only one who would rather fight next to Loki, or at least dress his wounds after his epic battle, than join The Avengers.

       I remember my first. It was my first in many ways, and would be the quintessential event of my childhood. Yes, of course I am talking about when my dad took me to see Tim Burton’s Batman (told you I had a relatively dull childhood.) I was six, my brother was three, and Dad had to watch us for an afternoon. It was the big movie, and the only other option was letting us kill each other at home. Hurrah for the electronic babysitter! That movie blew my young mind. I walked out of that theater ga-ga for Gotham and head over heels in love with The Joker. And by head over heels I mean, I drew a million pictures, wrote a million letters to Jack Nicholson, had to own everything Batman and Joker I could get my tiny hands on. The Joker was just so dynamic. He was funny and evil and charismatic and smart and he did whatever he wanted. Plus he had a cool look (which every member of Loki’s Army or Cumberbitch knows adds 4+ charisma points). My love of The Joker didn’t wane until it was transferred to another evil yet awesome bastard, Ralph Fiennes at age twelve when I first watched Schindler’s List. One look at him, doing his evil bastard snarl as a Nazi (the vilest villains of them all), and I was a goner. My crush didn’t even wane when he was Voldemort, another evil supervillain, and he had no nose. I am a loyal sort.

       It was also around this time that I was introduced to the magic of comic books by my then best friend Heather Winger. Growing up with brothers I was far more exposed to boy toys than girls. I played with Ghostbusters and Ninja Turtles but they never get into comics. Thank the gods for Heather. She introduced me to a world filled with people with special powers, powers that made them feel like outsiders just as I always had. My favorite was X-Men but especially Remy LeBeau AKA Gambit. Sure he was a good guy, but he had edge, bordering even on an anti-hero. He was a hustler and thief but fought for good. I even named my cat after him. It was also during this time I began obsessing about serial killers (told you I was weird). I read every book and watched as many shows and movies as I could. I tuned out whenever Jodie Foster was on-screen but watched with my mouth hung open as Anthony Hopkins brought Hannibal to life. My love of villains continued through the rest of my life. Robert Mitchum in Night of the Hunter, Heath Ledger as The Joker, Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan, tell me you weren’t also kind of hoping they’d win or at least get more screen time just like me.

       So, why wasn’t Christian Bale nominated for his Batman but Heath won for Joker? Why are millions of teenage girls hanging up Loki posters instead of Thor? Why did Charlaine Harris get death threats (which, really? Seriously?) for having Sookie break up with killer, semi-evil and dead Eric while ending up with a nice, stable guy? And why do I enjoy writing the scenes with killers than heroes? Because they’re more fun. They’re people who let their Id take the driver’s seat like we want to sometimes. Because being good and stable is damn hard work. I know there are days I wish I could rob a bank instead of working 9 to 5, or eat that rude clerk’s liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. But damn my conscious and skin that’d make prison orange look terrible on me. At least for the length of a book or movie, I can live vicariously through Hannibal or The Joker or the supervillain in my new book Justice, Alkaline and get my bad on. At least until they really serve cookies on the darkside.

       What about you? Who are your favorite villains? Why? And do you think Loki would be just as hot without his antlers and coat? I think not. Discuss below.

About Justice

The Galilee Falls Trilogy 1
Devil on the Left Books, May 2013
Kindle eBook and Trade Paperback

It’s hard being a regular police officer in Galilee Falls, a city with the highest concentration of superheroes and villains in the country. It’s even harder watching your best friend, the man you’re secretly in love with your whole life, planning to marry another woman. Detective Joanna Fallon has to contend with both. When the vilest supervillain in the city’s history, Alkaline, the former crime boss who can shoot acid from his wrists, escapes from the maximum security prison, the whole city is gripped by panic. Leading the pursuit is Captain Harry O’Hara, Joanna’s boss and secret lover, and the city’s champion superhero Justice, who caught the villain last time, much to Joanna’s chagrin. Before her father was murdered in a mugging twenty years earlier, Joanna worshiped the hero, but when he disappeared and failed to save her father, that adoration turned to contempt for all supers. After Alkaline attacks too close to home and targets Joanna as his next victim, tough-as-nail Joanna has to contend with her increasing fear while struggling to choose between her life-long crush and her new-found love.

At turns vulnerable and fierce, equally mordant and winsome, Joanna is an earnest yet emotionally damaged heroine, who despite the tough breaks of her childhood sees the good in people and vow to protect her beloved city at all costs. An ass-kicking petite firecracker with no superpowers of her own, she charges after supervillains unflinchingly, never losing her wit even when facing her toughest fight. With a coy blend of whimsy and vivid imagination, she delivers both humor and thrills in an action-packed and edgy blend of comic book cool, fantasy-noir, and bitter-sweet romance.



     The wolves are at the gate.
     I count thirty police officers on my security monitors, including SWAT, all armed to the gills led by him. I always knew this day would come. It has been almost twenty years in the making, but now it’s here…this must have been how Nero felt as he played that fiddle. My Rome is burning. Soon my freedom will be gone and yet I could still manage a tune. First things first.
     Waverly, one of my loyal employees these two years, runs into the study. His fear does not inspire confidence. “Sir, what are we supposed to do? The police and—”
     “Stop sniveling for one,” I say, taking a sip of my Scotch. I will miss this.
     “Did Grace—”
     The bullet I put between his eyes stops the rest of that sentence. I don’t have time to answer a million questions. Company’s coming. I down the rest of my drink as I run the electromagnet over my computer. Cleaner than the day I bought it. Must leave things tidy. I’ve already set the timers in the file cabinets. Thirty more seconds before, like Nero, all that remains of my empire is ashes.
     The bombs detonate as I walk down the hall, no louder than gunshots but still rocking the walls sprinkling dust on my paintings. I wonder what will happen to my art. Probably sold for victim reparations. The Degas alone will cover the cost of the library we destroyed today. Smith and Rees are waiting in what is left of my living room. Just looking at it, especially what’s left of Bradley under that bloody sheet, I feel embarrassed for myself. I never lose control like that. I don’t know what I was thinking. I suppose I’m paying the price now.
     “Sir, where do you want us?” Smith, a five year veteran of my service, asks.
     I turn over the couch with a sigh. “Gentlemen, I want to thank you both for your loyal service through the years. You have both been invaluable. I wish things could have gone a different way. I apologize.” I fire a single shot into Smith’s forehead. Poor Rees is too shocked to even draw on me before he meets the same ending. The loose ends are no more. The rest is in the hands of the fates.
     The last of my security doors fall, the sound of steel hitting marble echoing through the room. I cross my leg, wipe the speckles of dust off my costume, and put a smile on my face. The bane of my existence, the man I hate, who has consumed my life for years, super-speeds into my living room as if he owns it. And the press calls me arrogant.
     “Alkaline,” he says beneath that dark mask.
     “Justice,” I say with a nod. We stare at each other for a few seconds, even now locked in battle. “Grace?”
     “She’s safe. You can’t hurt her or anyone else ever again.” He pauses for dramatic effect, or to savor his victory. “Will this be easy or hard?”
     For a moment, I consider an attack. It always gives me almost orgasmic pleasure when my fist hits his body and he cries out in pain. One last taste for the road? No, I quell this urge. My body has not completely healed from our fight a few hours ago and quite frankly, I need a break. Being the scourge of the city is exhausting. “You may take me to jail now.”
      As I’m led out past the frightened police and gawking bystanders, I keep that smile on my face. Not because I’m arrogant, not to save face, because…I may have lost this battle, but the war has just begun.
      Then Rome will truly burn.

About Jennifer

Jennifer Harlow spent her restless childhood fighting with her three brothers and scaring the heck out of herself with horror movies and books. She grew up to earn a degree at the University of Virginia which she put to use as a radio DJ, crisis hotline volunteer, bookseller, lab assistant, wedding coordinator, and government investigator. Currently she calls Northern Virginia home but that restless itch is ever present. In her free time, she continues to scare the beejepers out of herself watching scary movies and opening her credit card bills. She is the author of the Amazon best-selling F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad and Midnight Magic Mystery series. For the soundtrack to her books and other goodies visit her at

Website ~ Tales From the Darkside Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ Pinterest 


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