Pinkerton Agents, Inventions, and the Charming Villain
Will Tucker is a handsome fellow with enough charm and drop-dead good looks to gain more than one wealthy fiancé. And he does. Not exactly hero material, is he? That’s because Will Tucker, the subject of my new Southern-with-a-dash-of-Steampunk historical series The Secret Lives of Will Tucker is not the hero. He’s the villain.
Writing a series with a villain at its center is a departure for me. In the past, I have centered stories on a location, such as the fictional city of Latagnier, Louisiana where I set seven tales of Cajun life spanning the late 1800s to the present day beginning with Bayou Beginnings and ending with Building Dreams. Or perhaps the series would follow characters who interacted in all the stories. My Women of the West series, currently an e-book 3-in-1 called Rocky Mountain Heiresses, followed this pattern with the first story, The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper, centering on Eugenia and subsequent novels Anna Finch and the Hired Gun and The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck telling the tales of Eugenia’s friend and stepdaughter.
Thus, taking on the telling of the story of Will Tucker, the charming and smooth-talking chameleon with the dubious intentions was new territory to me. In order to write heroines who would be fooled by this fellow and yet not appear to be less than worthy of their stories, I had to find that combination of good intentions and strong will. In the first story of the series, Flora’s Wish, I created a Natchez belle who sets out on a course that, at first, appears quite self-serving. When her efforts to marry in order to see that her family’s land does not pass to unfavorable hands put her in the cross-hairs of a Pinkerton investigation, she is not deterred. Millie’s Treasure, the second book in the series, pits a bluestocking Memphis socialite whose interest in science and literature has her longing to escape her gilded cage against yet another Pinkerton agent determined to catch Will Tucker and bring him to justice. Finally, in Sadie’s Secrets, a lady Pinkerton adds her investigative efforts to the ongoing case only to find that a certain Brit straight out of Scotland Yard is a dead ringer for the suspect, and he’s looking for Tucker, too. Add to this the fact that the Pinkerton agents are inventors who come up with the most interesting gadgets, including a flying machine, bullets that shoot filament wire allowing a person to scale walls, and, well…I digress.
So what becomes of a villain who is so likeable that women fall for him and men don’t mind calling themselves his friend? As I wrote the tales of Flora and Millie, and even as I began Sadie’s story, I wasn’t sure how I could pull off an ending worthy of such a fellow. In the end, Will himself determined his fate. Without giving anything away, I will say that the villain can sometimes play the hero, too.
About the Book: Sadie's Secret
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What does it take to give a villain any redeeming qualities?
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