Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know

The Villain. He or she is the single most important character in your tale.  Without a proper villain, your characters have no reason to mount an attack. There is no tension, hence, there is no real story.  But what do you model your great villain on?  For my villain, Stefyn D’Mal, I used the man who more vampires and  anti-heroes have been modeled on than any other man in modern history – George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, later George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron.

Gracing this page today is the original mad, bad and dangerous to know bad-boy whom we know simply as Lord Byron.  Hubba-hubba!  As a child, he was described as a sweet, affectionate person whom everyone loved (the good side) although he frequently exhibited silent rages, moody sullenness and revenge (the bad side). He was also cursed with a precocious bent for attachment and obsession. This was evinced in an obsession for his cousin at the age of 8 years, which he explained in his own words, “I really cannot explain or account for my feelings at that moment, but they nearly threw me into convulsions…How the deuce did all this occur so early? Where could it originate? I certainly had no sexual ideas for years afterwards; and yet my misery, my love for that girl were so violent, that I sometimes doubt if I have ever been really attached since. Be that as it may, hearing of her marriage several years after was like a thunder-stroke – it nearly choked me—to the horror of my mother and the astonishment and almost incredulity of every body.”

Obsession was a driving feature of his life, and it reared its head in various ways until the day he died. Obsession fed his creative genius, and obsession destroyed his political career. Byron was celebrated for his aristocratic excesses including huge debts, numerous love affairs, rumours of a scandalous incestuous liaison with his half-sister, and self-imposed exile. He was capricious, violent and  it has been speculated that he suffered from bipolar I disorder, or manic depression. Ultimately, Byron resolved to escape the censure of British society (due to allegations of incest and homosexuality) by living abroad,  thereby freeing himself of the need to conceal his sexual interests, as the continental Europeans at that time were less concerned with such things. In regard to the sort of man he was, Byron wrote, “I am such a strange mélangé of good and evil that it would be difficult to describe me.”

Lets be real  – who didn’t want to know Lord Byron!  He was everything we love in a celebrity! Extravagant, self-centered, childish and given to theatrics, he was the archetypal villain character and most notably Bram Stoker’s Dracula, is based on Byron!   And he is the perfect vampire – he actually wrote the original book! The unfinished story, also known as “A Fragment” and “The Burial: A Fragment”, was one of the first tales written in English to feature a vampire theme. His great friend John William Polidori based his tale, “The Vampyre” (which is credited as the original vampire tale) on both Byron’s work and modeled his vampire on Byron himself.

In regard to vampires, Lord Byron had this to say, “I have a personal dislike to Vampires, and the little acquaintance I have with them would by no means induce me to reveal their secrets.”

In my mind no one could be a more perfect villain than mad, bad Lord Byron.  He was the model on which I based the mad priest, Stefyn D’Mal, the villain in Tower of Bones.  He is witty, he is charming, he is handsome and well-educated. His conversation is captivating and when he is of a mind to, he can charm the birds from the trees.  Despite her fear of Stefyn, Marya is fascinated with him, and somewhat in love with him.  But beneath the charming exterior lies that depth of madness which makes him so dangerous, and so much fun to write.

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4 Comments

Filed under Books, Literature, Romance, Uncategorized, vampires, writing

4 responses to “Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know

  1. I thought Dracula was based on Vlad Tepes. Maybe it was some sort of amalgam.

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  2. @ atoasttodragons –

    Wow – thank you for such a great comment!
    Bram Stokers novel drew on many cultural myths, and Vlad Tepes was most certainly one of them. However, in designing the charismatic nature of the Prince of Darkness, most scholars now think that he drew upon Polidori’s ‘The Vampyre’ for inspiration.

    I personally feel that Vlad was neither charismatic nor compelling enough a physical speciment for that, if one looks at the few pictures that depict him. He was however violent and well known for his atrocities, and that definitely made for a great model for the general evilness that Stoker’s Dracula embodies.

    Bram would also have had a public figure like Byron as a great model for such as during Lord Byron’s final years in the mediterranean and especially in Greece he was accounted as a hero. He loudly and monetarily supported the Greek War of Independence. Byron spent the incredible sum of £4000 of his own money to refit the Greek fleet during the Greek War of Independence. Byron employed a fire-master to prepare artillery and took part of the rebel army under his own command, despite his lack of military experience, but he fell ill before the expedition could sail, on 15 February 1824. It has been said that had Byron lived and gone on to defeat the Ottomans, he might have been declared King of Greece. However, contemporary scholars have found such an outcome unlikely.

    So, based on that evidence, I still agree with the current view that Bram Stoker’s Dracula was modeled in part on Lord Byron and Poidori’s The Vampyre.

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  3. Lord Byron is definitely someone I’d want to have at a dinner party.

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