Sunday 4 January 2009

This week I have a guest blog for a change! This author was already a guest on Amberkatze's Book Blog back in May and came by for an interview. So this time I asked the author if he could write something special for us ;)

Thank you Justin Gustainis for coming back to visit us! I hope you all enjoy the guest blog!


Evil Makes It Easy by Justin Gustainis

When you’re creating villains, the writing books say, you should make en effort to portray them as complex. Show that not all of their traits are reprehensible, and give them a motivation for their evil that makes sense – at least, to them. And that’s good advice, usually. I think what has made Hannibal Lecter such an intriguing figure is the contradictions in his character. Here’s this brilliant, educated, highly cultured man who is also a sadistic psychopath who, before his incarceration, had killed at least nine people and eaten parts of some of them. Hannibal the Cannibal, indeed.

But when you’re writing supernatural villains, the job is usually easier. With vampires, for instance, the motivation is easy – and I don’t mean just because they’re evil. The thing is, they’re predators, and we’re their pray. What they do to feed and survive seems evil to us, because humans are the ones they are doing it to. It’s all a question of perspective. Remember: Colonel Sanders is not a hero to chickens. Now, when I say vampires, of course, I’m referring to the traditional “I vant to dreenk your blood” types, not the tortured Byronic figures created by Ann Rice, who has a lot to answer for, in my opinion. These days, Ms. Rice writes religious books and has, apparently, found Jesus. Were that she had found Him thirty years ago – imagine what we would have been spared. Although she did used to write pretty good porn under a pen name. But I digress.

Monsters are cool, because we expect them to act like monsters. If a dude turns into a werewolf, we don’t expect him to get up on his hind legs and beg us for food. As with vampires, we are the food, Jack.

Witches are a bit more complicated, because they’re not monsters, as such. They are people whose knowledge of the Craft gives them power, and power can be used for good or evil. The traditional view in Western Culture of witches as evil crones comes from the Middle Ages, especially the Catholic church, who were the first to connect in the public mind the practice of Earth Magic (not unlike what modern Wiccans do) with Satan. Keep in mind, that these women were healers, counselors, and priestesses, and hence the Church’s main competition. The Church tended to burn its competition at the stake, back in those days.

In my novel Black Magic Woman , the title character is a practitioner of black magic who is carrying on a long-standing feud, and thus trying to destroy an innocent family. Her motivation, is, in a sense, loyalty –to her mother’s memory, and to the family tradition that says her family is at war with the other family, whether the other family knows it or not.

On the other hand, my character Libby Chastain is a practitioner of white witchcraft. That doesn’t necessarily make her Glenda the Good Witch, but the White is a path Libby freely chose, and the magic she practices, by definition, cannot be used to hurt people – although, as some of Libby’s enemies have leaned, it doesn’t always keep bad people from hurting themselves.

But you know who are the easiest supernatural villains to write? Demons. Now I’m talking about the traditional, Judeo-Christian, pea-soup spitting, “Your mother folds laundry in Hell, Karras!” type of creature. I recognize that other writers have offered other conceptions of demons, and many of these are interesting and well done. But my demons hate humans and always have, because they thought that God’s creating us was a slap in the face to the angels. Well, pride goeth before a fall, and so, legend tells us, a bunch of the angels fell – a long, long way. And humans have been on their diabolical shit list ever since. Usually, tradition says, demons just try to tempt us into sin, but every once in a while one of the horny bastards get more ambitions (just ask any exorcist). The third Morris & Chastain novel, which I’m working on now, is called Sympathy for the Devil. In it, a major party’s presidential candidate is secretly possessed by a demon. The guy is, in effect, Hell’s candidate in the election, although the public doesn’t know. Why bother? Because if he wins, he can use the power of the Presidency to start world War III and destroy us all, a consummation that, in Hell, is devoutly to be wished.

Of course, this situation presents an interesting problem for Quincey and Libby, once they figure out what’s going on. How do you exorcise someone against his will, someone who happens to be under the protection of the U.S. Secret Service?

The first chapter of Sympathy for the Devil is included as a bonus at the end of Evil Ways , which is just out. By the way, there’s a lot of witchcraft, both black and white, being used in the current book. Read it, why don’t you, and find out why.


Contest Time

Justin is being very generous and has said he will send a a signed, inscribed copy of Evil Ways to one lucky winner. So enter away to win a read you are not going to forget!

To enter the contest let me know your new years resolutions! If you haven't got any then tell me ;) But nothing about resolutions = no entry! I am not one for the 'enter me' comments!

To earn yourself another entry you can post about this guest blog and contest somewhere on the web. Make sure you leave me a link so I can confirm your entry.

The contest will be open until Sunday 11th of January till 4pm CET. If you enter you should check back! I do not go hunting for winners, they should contact me. If the prize isn't claimed within 7 days I will pick a new winner.


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posted by Unknown at Sunday, January 04, 2009 |


At 4 January 2009 at 08:32, Anonymous Anonymous

My new year resolution is to read more books, eat healty and spend more time outdors :)


At 4 January 2009 at 09:41, Blogger Brooke Reviews

I thought Black Magic Woman was a great book, and I can't wait to read Evil Ways! :)

My resolution was to keep doing well in school, so that I can graduate within the next 2.5 years.


At 4 January 2009 at 11:36, Blogger shaunesay

Thanks for visiting us Justin! I would love to be entered for Evil Ways!

My New Year's Resolution, pretty much the same as every year, exercise more! The equipment is right there in my basement, and I usually read while walking on my treadmill, so it's a win/win situation! You'd think I'd be able to keep it up better!

Thanks again!


At 4 January 2009 at 13:40, Blogger Katie

THanks for the insights, Justin!

My resolutions are to win the lottery and love myself.



At 4 January 2009 at 20:27, Blogger donnas

Great post. Cant wait to read Evil Ways.

My resolution is try to eat more healthy.


At 4 January 2009 at 21:46, Anonymous Anonymous

My new years resolution is to get in shape and finally finish some projects I've been putting off.


At 4 January 2009 at 22:32, Blogger darbyscloset

My new year resolution, besides the regular save money and lose weight is to take boxing lessons! YES! This is the year, that I am going to take lessons to learn how to box vs my bumbling around from watching the moves off of "Million Dollar Baby".
Thanks so much
darbyscloset at yahoo dot com


At 5 January 2009 at 00:08, Blogger James Rasmussen

I don't make news resolutions, but I'd like to do more, see more, have more fun in 2009 and work on turning a few dreams into reality.


At 5 January 2009 at 05:03, Blogger Zita

My resolution is to finish my bathroom redecorating project. It's just scraping off the wallpaper and repainting, but, man! Can I make excuses not to keep on scraping! I swear they used superglue to put this stuff up! So I have resolved to finish my project before my birthday (Jan 28). Wish me luck!


At 5 January 2009 at 06:17, Blogger Ruth Schaller

My New Year's resolution is to start exercising, because ya know it seems that the last couple of months the only things that have gotten any exercise was my fingers from typing all the time :D LOL


At 5 January 2009 at 06:24, Blogger StyleVamp

My New Year's resolution is to start exercising too and to start eating better. It sounds like such a cliche to say however I so need I'm anticipating that I'm going to be cranky for the next few weeks.


At 5 January 2009 at 06:52, Anonymous Anonymous

I don't have any new year's resolutions. I never stick to them anyway. Thanks for entering me.


At 5 January 2009 at 06:53, Blogger Unknown

I didn't make any New Year's resolutions because they never seem to work for me anyway. Thanks for the contest!


At 5 January 2009 at 07:34, Blogger Asylumgirl

I resolve to stick to a budget and get organized.



At 5 January 2009 at 08:38, Anonymous Anonymous

one of my new year resolutions actually was stop buying books!!!


At 5 January 2009 at 08:55, Blogger slayra

New Year's resolution? To loose weight I guess. Oh and spend less money on books (I just broke that, I spent a lot in a fresh batch of books a few hours ago, lol). :p


At 5 January 2009 at 09:31, Blogger Susan Helene Gottfried

No need to enter me, my friend. I'm just dropping in to let you know I've posted about this at Win a Book. Cool guest post, Justin!


At 5 January 2009 at 10:46, Blogger cheesygiraffe

First off, Justin you cracked me up with the Anne Rice comment. I almost spit out my drink. LOL

My New Year's Resolution is to lose weight. Very typical and boring but I need to lose quite a bit. :(


At 5 January 2009 at 11:28, Blogger Unknown

New Year´s resolution? I don´t have a single one because I wouldn´t do it


At 5 January 2009 at 11:51, Anonymous Anonymous

Hey. My New year rez is to lose some weight, do better in school, and to have fun!


At 5 January 2009 at 12:19, Blogger catslady

My resolution is not making an official resolution :) I've found that they just don't work and I have a better chance if I just try to improve myself with no pressure. That way if I slip a bit I won't totally give up.


At 5 January 2009 at 13:05, Blogger Night critter

My new year's rez is to read more books and to expand my reading by try genres/authors I haven't read before.


At 5 January 2009 at 13:50, Anonymous Anonymous

My only resolution is the same one I've had for the last several years, to try not to lose what is left of my mind. It's a losing battle. I don't know which will be gone first, my mind or my memory. It's a deadheat so far:)


At 5 January 2009 at 14:57, Blogger Deirdre

This year I hope to read more books than I buy or borrow; to use more yarn than I buy and to lose more weight than I gain.


At 5 January 2009 at 15:20, Anonymous Anonymous

My resolution is to procrastinate less! So far, I have gotten off to a bad start. :P

I blogged about your contest:


At 5 January 2009 at 18:34, Blogger Leslie

Interesting guest post Justin. I like how the white witchcraft doesn't mean you're dealing with Glenda the Good Witch.

I made the usual excercise more and eat healthier resolutions that I make every year. But I also made a new resolution this year and that was to read one horror novel. Something really scary. I haven't read one since junior high and that was John Saul's Suffer the Children. Not even sure if that's considered horror but it scared me at the time.


At 5 January 2009 at 18:36, Blogger macbeaner

I prefer to call them goals, then I don't feel as bad if I don't succeed. My *goals* are to try and get the house de-cluttered. Try to have a more positive attitude about work and try to be more healthy about my body (exercise and eating).



At 5 January 2009 at 18:54, Blogger Vickie

New Year resolutions:
~Read more books
~Buy more books
~Read what's already on Mt Git'r'Read
~Read more books


At 5 January 2009 at 19:44, Blogger Jeanette J

My resolution was going to be to not make any resolutions but I decided to make a simple one. I will continue to eat sensibly and hopefully lose more weight. (started at 230 and now I am 190)


At 5 January 2009 at 21:02, Blogger Renee G

I'd love to read this. My new year's resolution was to finish up a couple of the projects that I started around the house.


At 6 January 2009 at 04:35, Blogger Kathy

This year, I need to get myself more organized. I need to do everything from clean out closets to deleting old files on the pc. I also need to start exercising. (Is cleaning out closets considered exercise?)

I posted the contest on my blog

Thanks - KathyB


At 6 January 2009 at 09:34, Blogger Nancy

Great post, Justin! Your insights into villains are right on!

My resolutions? The main one at the moment is to clean up the post-holiday chaos ... and find my water bill. I've paid it in person, but really want to know where the heck it has been hidden!

Amber, as always, thanks for a great guest!

Nancy Haddock
La Vida Vampire
Last Vampire Standing


At 6 January 2009 at 10:42, Blogger tetewa

I read a total of 63 books last year, trying to beat that number this year! I've already read 4 so far.


At 6 January 2009 at 15:15, Anonymous Anonymous

Oh. I read Black Magic Woman and I love it. I cant wait to read Evil Ways.

My New Years Resolutions are to read more books and to stop procrastinating.


At 6 January 2009 at 15:41, Blogger Simply Stacie

The only one I have is to get more rest and go to bed before midnight so I am not so tired the next day.


At 6 January 2009 at 17:36, Blogger ErinRagan

I try not to make resolutions b/c I never stick to them, lol. But I am trying to get my life a little more under "control" these days... we'll see how that works out!

Thanks for a great contest! I've heard a lot about this book and am anxious to get my hands on a copy!


At 7 January 2009 at 22:03, Blogger Unknown

i LOVED black magic woman!!!!!! and would love to wint this!

resolutions, to lose weight, whcih aint going to happen LOL
and DO more with my life, sp when i look back at it and i can proud say I DID ________ that! ive gotten steppen wolf whole band autogrpah (5yr ago), and leon russell (last yr)\\and all the old hippies said i never get those , HA


At 9 January 2009 at 10:51, Blogger Calliope

I'm not really big on the whole New Year's resolutions thing. I don't really have any except to make it to next New Year's in good condition.


At 9 January 2009 at 21:13, Blogger Amy

I don't have New Year's resolutions in the traditional sense. At Solstice, a time when the darkest days are passing and there is increased light coming to Earth, I committed to let go of things that were getting in my way, keeping me from the things I deserve, and to continue to do what I need to in order to grow in wisdom and in my Craft.


At 9 January 2009 at 22:15, Blogger windycindy

Hello, To sum up my resolutions in one word is "relax!" I suffer from an anxiety disorder and I am hoping to conquer it! I also love to read and hope to focus on reading a lot of various genres of books this year!
Please enter me in your drawing. I appreciate it! Thanks, Cindi


At 9 January 2009 at 22:36, Blogger darbyscloset

I like that Justin's character uses "white magic", nice twist!
Good Interview.
Okay, New Years Res' loose weight by eating less and really pushing my self during my workouts...wish me luck!
Thanks for the giveaway, I'd love an unforgetable read!!
darbyscloset at yahoo dot com


At 10 January 2009 at 00:12, Blogger Wrighty

I'm not normally one to make resolutions but I have decided that I am going to get more organized and unload the extra "stuff" we all have laying around. I start doing it but don't seem to get far. This books sounds very good! Please include me. I've added it to my blog. Thanks!


At 10 January 2009 at 08:40, Blogger Adele

this book looks so good.
I don't generally do resolutions anymore, at least, i do them in secret and don't tell anyone what they are. This year though I am making full use of our local produce because it's excellent quality and value, just a little more out of the way.


At 10 January 2009 at 14:00, Blogger Becky

My resolution for this year is to eat healthier. Sounds simple right? Haha it is much harder than I thought but so far I am doing well. All sugars and white bread are gone and I am working on eating more raw veggies.

Thanks so much!


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