For the past two weeks I've been working on the second book in my Mara Beltane mystery series. Notice I said "working" and not "writing." That's because I'm in brainstorm mode, figuring out the plot and major characters--most notably, the antagonist.
I've got a good handle on the narrative arc and the "good guy" characters. As with the first book, those elements came easily. It's the bad guy who's being a pain in the ass.
I struggled with the antagonist with the first book, too. Every book needs a good guy with a goal and a bad guy that impedes the good guy's progress. That's what gives a book action and plot. I'm proud of THE CITY OF LOST SECRETS, but I do think the antagonist could have been a little stronger, a little more fleshed out. That being said, I need to up the ante with the second book.
I thought I had a lock on who the ultimate baddie would be, but then I realized he's appeared it lots of other books before in my genre, and he's, well, played out. Shame too, because everyone loves to hate the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church--the guy responsible for the property and revenue of the Vatican. We love him because of his silent power and his mysterious presence and his ability to run a tight ship. Secretly I think we all want to be that guy. But we hate him because, well, somehow "profit" and "Pope" seem oxymoronic and hypocritical and downright wrong. The papacy shouldn't be a for-profit entity, right? RIGHT? So he was turned into a bad guy because frankly, we didn't know what else to do with him.
But the Camerlengo-as-bad-guy thing is just plain cliche now, so I'll be having none of that in THE CITY OF SACRED BONES. Oh, right. The second book's called THE CITY OF SACRED BONES. Here's a little teaser video:
I've switched gears a bit, let go of the Camerlengo, and latched on to another, better idea for a bad guy. He's connected to the Church, and the Pope, but in a round about way. That's all I'm going to say for now; you'll just have to wait until the book is published to find out who he is. In the meantime, I'll throw you a bone. His official title is "The Custodian." How's THAT for a bad guy name?