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Mike Dellosso | Dancing with the Devil: How I Create Fictional Villains without Becoming a Real-Life One

Kill Devil
Mike Dellosso




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Powell's Books



June 2016
On Sale: June 1, 2016
ISBN: 1496408225
EAN: 9781496408228
Kindle: B0198UC0DM
Paperback / e-Book
Add to Wish List

Also by Mike Dellosso:
Kill Devil, June 2016
Centralia, June 2015


I kill people. And for the most part I make sure they stay dead. No, this isn’t an admission of guilt that will now land me on the front page of my local newspaper and maybe a few national rags. In fact, not only do I not bear any actual guilt, but I don’t feel guilty about killing people at all. Or killing dogs. Or cats. My killing sprees are wholly fictional and completely a product of my imagination.

I kill people in my stories (and a few dogs and cats too). Well, to be fair, I don’t kill them; my characters do. But since I’m the puppet master controlling the strings, I guess I’m mostly to blame for the crimes committed in my books.

And while I don’t feel bad or guilty about forcing fictional characters to perpetrate crimes against one another, I do need to be careful. Sometimes fiction can spill over into reality. To create believably bad dudes, I need to put myself inside the heads and psyches of those villains. I need to become them on a certain level. And that can be a frightening ordeal.

I don’t want to be a villain, not physically and not psychologically, so writing scenes from the point of view of a villain needs to be a careful dance. Murders and crimes of all sort begin in the head, the thoughts, the desires, the fantasies. To accurately portray a criminal, you have to toy with those thoughts, you have to fondle the desires and skirt around the fantasies. Momentarily, at least in thought only, you have to become that criminal. Take on his anger, his pain, his irrational need for revenge. You have to align yourself with him and say, “I understand; I get it; I feel your pain too.”

So how does one do that and remain sane? How does one insert himself into the mind of a killer and not become a killer? It’s an interesting thought. The answer, to oversimplify, is very carefully. I wade into that foul pool of evil intent, of maliciousness and ruthlessness, of misguided justice and perverted needs only so far as I need to. Usually, I stick to the kiddie pool, splash around a bit to get a feel for the temperature of the water, the taste, the sensation of it on my skin. But I’m careful not to wade in too far. It can sneak up on you. The deep end. Before you know it, you’re in over your head and find you can’t swim in those murky, muddy waters. And once in there, it’s so hard to ever get out. But I do it to show readers the seriousness of sin, the darkness that, but for the grace of God, can infect any of us. It’s real and it’s not to be toyed with. Evil is all around us, pressing us on all sides. It begs to be noticed, and though we may want to ignore it, to act as if it doesn’t exist will only fuel its fire more.

Evil is necessary in fiction because without evil, there can be no good to conquer it. Without darkness, there can be no light to dispel it. Without death, there can be no celebration of life.


Tell us what you think about evil below, and one reader will win a copy of KILL DEVIL.

About Mike Dellosso

Mike Dellosso

Mike Dellosso is the author of several novels of suspense, an adjunct professor of creative writing and popular conference teacher, a husband, and a father. Born in Baltimore, Mike now resides in southern Pennsylvania with his wife and four daughters. His latest novel is Kill Devil.



Kill Devil

Jed Patrick is convinced he’s doing all it takes to keep his family safe―new names, new location, new identity. But just when he thinks he finally has his life back, trained men claiming to be CIA agents break in and threaten his wife and daughter, proving once and for all his family will never truly be safe until he eliminates the agency dead set on hunting him down.

Not knowing if Karen and Lilly are better off by his side or in hiding, Jed is determined to protect them while finding a way to use the classified information that he possesses to dismantle the Centralia Project. But he soon learns that eliminating Centralia may require compromising his own values. As danger escalates, Jed isn’t sure whether there’s anyone or anything he can trust―including his own senses.

Buy KILL DEVIL: Amazon.com | Kindle | BN.com | Kobo | Powell's Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR




16 comments posted.

Re: Mike Dellosso | Dancing with the Devil: How I Create Fictional Villains without Becoming a Real-Life One

Writing the Screwtape letters, and living inside the head of the devil during that period is said to have taken an emotional toll on C.S. Lewis. I can see it requires caution when immersing yourself like that.
(John Urban 8:52am June 17, 2016)

I think that evil is real and we underestimate its power. We think that we
can defeat it by ourselves. That is one of the many lies we believe. Only
with God can we defeat evil. We must also be very careful in judging evil
acts. Sin is sin. There is no one whose sin God does not hate. Roman
33:23 reminds us that we have all fallen short before God. God does not
see a murderer and liar as different. Both sins were responsible for Jesus'
death. We need to pray for people that commits "evil" acts.
(Sonnetta Jones 10:04pm June 17, 2016)

Evil can never be eradicated. Unfortunately it exists in our
world and we have to be viligant.
(Sharon Berger 2:03pm June 18, 2016)

Evil is becoming more prevalent and it scares the crap out of me.
(MaryEllen Hanneman 2:06pm June 18, 2016)

Sounds like a great thriller.
(Melody Kaufman 9:12pm June 18, 2016)

There is nothing I love better than curling up with a good thriller!
(Melody Kaufman 10:52pm June 19, 2016)

Nicely put Mike and I especially like what you said at the end: Evil is necessary in fiction because without evil, there can be no good to conquer it. Without darkness, there can be no light to dispel it. Without death, there can be no celebration of life.
(Melody Kaufman 2:54am June 20, 2016)

I know evil is there and makes for great reading, but I
wish the world did not have evil.
(Debra Guyette 9:33am June 20, 2016)

One of the fallacies that continues to persist is that evil can be recognized easily. If that were true, mankind could isolate and contain those who are about to commit evil. And it is especially true because of the fact that evil can sometimes be a consequence of other acts that in and of themselves may not be evil.
(Cathy Burkhead 3:38pm June 20, 2016)

Well , I will certainly have to read this book . This sounds like it could keep me up all night and when I am through reading I want be able to go to sleep for thinking about all this . I do love books like this !!! Thanks for this chance to win this .
(Joan Thrasher 11:10am June 21, 2016)

Evil can come from a group mentality or a single soul.
Have you ever met some who gave off vibes that made you take a mental
or invisible physical step back and it gives you a full body shiver when you
find out why a few years later.
(Laura Gullickson 12:11pm June 22, 2016)

I believe in evil. I think there are people who are evil, and who commit evil acts. My mom and grandma saw Ted Bundy once, although they didn't know it at the time, and he was following them. My mom says she'll never forget the look in his eyes; that they were so strange.
(Cynthia Powers 5:36am June 22, 2016)

I think there are people who do evil deeds. I wonder if they are born with that mentality or is it developed by environment or a combination of the two.
(Anna Speed 1:03pm June 22, 2016)

I can tell you one must be ever vigilant re evil. It is so
easy to slide down that slippery slope: e.g. today's political
climate and , I use the term loosely, societal mores.
Frighteningly apparent.
(Kathleen Bylsma 5:43pm June 22, 2016)

So hoping to see my name as the winner!
(Melody Kaufman 7:49pm June 22, 2016)

Time to give the devil his due!
(Melody Kaufman 8:37pm June 22, 2016)

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