King of Bad
by Kai Strand
Jeff Mean would rather set fires than follow rules or observe curfew. He wears his bad boy image like a favorite old hoodie; that is until he learns he has superpowers and is recruited by Super Villain Academy – where you learn to be good at being bad. In a school where one kid can evaporate all the water from your body and the girl you hang around with can perform psychic sex in your head, bad takes on a whole new meaning. Jeff wonders if he’s bad enough for SVA.
He may never find out. Classmates vilify him when he develops good manners. Then he’s kidnapped by those closest to him and left to wonder who is good and who is bad. His rescue is the climactic episode that balances good and evil in the super world. The catalyst – the girl he’s crushing on. A girlfriend and balancing the Supers is good, right? Or is it…bad?
Sitting front and center in math class the next morning was the Amazon. Jeff almost stumbled when he saw her. Even folded into a standard classroom desk, her body went on and on. Her olive skin glowed under the fluorescent lights. Miles of wavy sable locks tumbled to her waist. A short skirt revealed a never-ending expanse of legs gracefully wrapped together under the desk. They seemed indecent. Jeff wasn’t attracted to her, per se, but she intrigued him. And scared him to death.
Amber colored eyes gleamed when they met his. She looked him over from head to toe and a half smile curved her full lips. Jeff fought the urge to scurry past and with all the casual aloofness he could muster, he sauntered to his desk at the back of the room. He heaved a loud mental sigh when he was safely behind her. He might understand Pyro’s claim that something wasn’t right about the Amazon. Though he doubted that he and Pyro were referring to the same thing.
To Jeff’s dismay, the math teacher had the Amazon introduce herself to the class. She stood at the front and stared pointedly at Jeff most of the time. When she spoke he groaned. Her voice was warmed butter rum—soothing, comforting and intoxicating. Jeff made the mistake of glanc-ing at her while she spoke about her home in northern Italy. As soon as they made eye contact, Jeff was transfixed. Though she continued to speak aloud to the class she also spoke directly to Jeff in his mind. It wasn’t in a language that Jeff understood, but he knew she was hypnotizing him.
Villain as Hero – Finding the Balance
Villain as Hero – Finding the Balance
Creating a villain as the hero turned out to be far trickier than I imagined when I first dreamed up the idea. When Amanda asked me to talk about the differences between creating a hero and a villain, I was thrilled to be able to try to describe why this is tougher than you’d expect.
First let’s talk about creating heroes. Some of the main character traits of a good hero are likeability, relateability, believable flaws, true heart, clear mission/goal, honesty.
Now let’s define the common character traits of a good villain. Cleverness, charm, understandable anger, good back story, deceit.
It was easy for me to create my supporting villain characters because I could follow the good villain mold. We love Set’s superiority, and we believe it because he’s so good with his weather abilities, and he’s god-like gorgeous. Mystic is a believable villainess first and foremost because her superpower is psychic suave. Anyone who can play with your head and your emotions – and enjoy doing it – has to be bad, right?
It was much harder to create the villain as a hero character, Jeff. Villains don’t care about other people, they don’t have friends. Rather, they form loose bonds with people whose abilities and goals align with their own and benefit them the most. Yet, you can’t very well have a main character who won’t give two shakes about anyone but himself and expect readers to take his side and route for him. So I had to offset Jeff’s bad with some good. Maybe not a lot, but enough to make him likeable. So he had to be not-as-bad as the other kids at Super Villain Academy and he had to question their motives.
Needless to say, when you read King of Bad, remember these kids are villains and are motivated by different morals and goals. When Oceanus pulls water from the overhead sprinklers for Jeff to freeze during battle, she isn’t doing it because she cares for Jeff. She’s doing it, because it is fun to beat the other guys!
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
When the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died, the end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and short stories for younger children Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Visit Kai’s website, www.kaistrand.com, to browse her books, download companion materials or to find all her online haunts.
You can usually find Kai online at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KaiStrandAuthor
or Twitter: https://twitter.com/KaiStrand
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