Am I Evil?
By Jay Requard
Believe it or not, I’m pissed off.
I’m pissed off because I failed Conjer, Emma, and whoever that vampire-fop that ended up beheaded at the end of the third act. I failed them all, and every bit of it has to do with the fact that I didn’t know if I could be what I needed to be. I didn’t know if I could be evil. I consider myself a Heroic Fantasy author, so you probably imagine the kind of cognitive dissonance that entailed.
The first story, The Chase, appeared in The Big Bad: An Anthology of Evil, which featured many great stories featuring truly messed-up things being done by really messed-up people. But that didn’t mean we did evil. I am one of those (psychos) that take the time to read the reviews that followed on Amazon, and beyond a lot of really nice reviews and some well-earned praise for some really talented authors, there was one review that struck me in the face with shame.
“They’re really light on evil,” is essentially what was said, when paraphrased to protect who said. I’ll leave it to you to go and guess which review I’m talking about.
“Light on evil.”
That’s not good enough. It’s not good enough for me, specifically, because I know that I failed. I tried to make Conjer a darker, moodier version of The Man with No Name, one of my favorite characters from the Sergio Leoni-classics. Yet that character isn’t inherently a villain, and villains are supposed to be the bread and butter of The Big Bad II.
So here comes The Big Bad II. I submitted Ghosts and Sands to Emily Leverett and John Hartness, having to fight my way again into the second anthology. I wasn’t invited, I wasn’t called to submit another story—I had to work. And I had to figure out “am I evil?”
To me, evil is someone walking into town knowing he is going to kill scores and smiles about it. To me, evil is killing someone who was trying to do a job they didn’t want to be doing in the first place. To me, evil is making victims pay for rescue and salvation. To me, evil is having a good time doing it.
These are things that happen every single day in the real world, performed by those high and low, lawful and criminal. They may seem mundane to readers, in the grand scheme of things, but that’s because the readers are evil too—they accept this deepening shithole around them while they turn to the next page.
Conjer came back, ready to unleash hell. He’s not the hero you need; he’s the curse you have to endure. And curses always find a way to claim you.
I hope I didn’t fail this time. You can be the judge and answer my question: Am I Evil?