Meet Maggie Andrews

The Queen of Mean in “The Deception”

A woman with short blonde hair.
© Can Stock Photo / yekophotostudio

Sometimes the villains I create are downright disturbing. Maggie Andrews certainly fits the description. She’s the woman readers love to hate in The Deception.


Maggie is the last person you’d expect to be so mean. She’s a stay-at-home mom who’s married to Scott, a software engineer. They have two typical all-American kids and live in a nice home in the suburbs. She and Scott also share a passion for art collecting. Maggie believes she’s living the good life. Unfortunately for her, Scott has been leading a double life, and her perfect world is about to be shattered.


Every morning Maggie likes to grab a second cup of coffee and catch up on her email. Then one fateful she borrows Scott’s laptop, and her life will take an unexpected turn. She’ll accidentally discover that Scott has a second email account. Her curiosity gets the better of her and she hacks her way in, only to discover something she never wanted to know. Her heart breaks, but whatever sympathy readers may feel for her will be short lived. A darker side of Maggie quickly emerges as she hatches a plan for revenge that will have potentially deadly consequences.


Maggie is a fictitious character not inspired by anyone I’ve encountered in real-life. (Thank goodness.) She’s a spiteful woman who’s incapable of forgiveness, even after those who have wronged her have admitted it and apologized for their transgressions. She’s also the personification of the concept that two wrongs never make a right. That’s why readers love to hate her.

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Meet Louise

the two-faced villain in The Deception

Photo of a middle aged woman with glasses and strawberry blonde hair.
Photo by Fotolia.

We’ve all known people like this. People who are sweet as pie to your face and pretend to be your best friend when, in reality, their only interest is in using you. With friends like that who needs an enemy, right?

Meet Louise Dickenson, one of the antagonists in The Deception. Louise is more than happy to be your friend, provided you have something of benefit to her. This makes her a great antagonist. She’s the kind of woman we love to hate.


Louise is a semi-retired photographer. Years before, she shot the print ads of leading lady Carrie when she was a child model. The two forged a friendship, or so Carrie thought. Later on, Carrie became a commercial photographer herself, and Louise mentored her.


Louise is now an art photographer. She’s just picked up a private commission for a series of a female nudes. She also has a show coming up at a local art gallery. Louise plans on including the nude photos in her upcoming show. But first, she needs a model. Knowing that Carrie is down on her luck, Louise decides to help her by offering her a well paying modeling gig. But when Carrie hesitates, Louise skillfully calms her fears by convincing Carrie that she really is trying to help her. The experience, however, leaves Carrie feeling manipulated and exploited. And as events unfold, she’ll discover that Louise was never her friend.


Louise is a fictitious character, loosely based on a family member who was also a master manipulator.


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Blame It On Too Many Soap Operas and My Misspent Youth

A old television set with a blank screen.
© Can Stock Photo / ginosphotos

People often ask me what motivated me to become an author. Or they ask me why I write contemporary romance. Well, blame it on my misspent youth. For many, many years, I was a soap opera junkie. It started in about the sixth grade, and lasted into adulthood. I suppose I could blame it on my mother too. Instead of telling me to go do something more productive with my, she got me started on her soaps.

I used to schedule my college classes around my soaps. Mind you, this was back in The Dark Ages, before we had the Internet, so having my first VCR was a truly liberating experience. I could now have a life. I was able to tape my soaps and watch them at my convenience, and I taped my favorite soap everyday for many years.

So, what was it about soap operas that was so compelling?  According to my old high school drama teacher, soap operas were real life, exaggerated. Back in the day, soap operas relied on classic plot lines, such as extra-marital affairs, illegitimate children, and long-lost family members. Viewers could make a connection because they were believable stories.

The other thing that made the soaps so compelling was the characters. I never watched the now defunct All My Children, but I certainly know who Erica Kane was. Dr. Marlena Evans on Days of our Lives was my personal favorite. Two great actresses, Susan Lucci and Deidre Hall, playing those memorable roles certainly helped. However, behind those two talented actresses were equally talented writers who transformed these fictitious characters into believable, three-dimensional people.

I too strive to create believable, three-dimensional characters such Ian PalmerGillian MatthewsCarrie Daniels and Alex Montoya, just to name a few. I also work hard to create believable stories, with plot lines similar to soap operas. My stories are about characters who get involved with the wrong people, long-lost lovers who are reunited, and people betrayed by the ones they trust the most. In other words, they’re real life, somewhat exaggerated.

Marina Martindale

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You Novel Writers are Evil

That’s a fellow author said to me the other day. Of course, she didn’t mean it literally, although she had a point. Some of the things we novel writers do to our characters is just plain mean. Then again, some of those characters have it coming.


I was telling her about Scott, an antagonist in The Deception. Scott isn’t the nicest guy on the planet. He’s a married man who puts himself out as a single guy, and his actions have hurt a lot of people, especially Carrie, my leading lady. Once she and her friends realize Scott’s stories aren’t adding up she ditches him. I planned on writing him out of the story at that point, but then someone else told me, no, I couldn’t just write him off so quickly. Readers would expect him to be punished for what he did, and they’d be disappointed if he were able to simply walk away. So, I took the advice.

Scott is later arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, and he gets his comeuppance in the form of a humiliating strip search. I told my fellow author how I went online and read testimonials by real people who’ve had this experience, and I based Scott’s story on those real-life accounts. That’s when she looked at me and said, “You novel writer’s are evil.”

Well, what can I say? She wrote a memoir. I write fiction.

Marina Martindale

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Meet Jason Matthews, the Deadly villain in The Reunion

A man in his black cowboy hat tips it with his fingers to say hello.
Photo by Fotolia

Jason Matthews is one of the antagonists you meet in The Reunion. He’s never actually seen, but his presence is most certainly felt, and he has a major impact on the story.

Gillian, the female lead, has a history of getting involved with the wrong men. An artist by profession, she tells leading man Ian her story of visiting Tombstone, Arizona, to do some research after being commissioned to do a series of paintings about the Old West. While in Tombstone, she happened to meet Jason, a bartender and street performer. Handsome and charming, Gillian asked Jason to model for the paintings. He not only accepted her offer, he swept her off her feet, and Gillian believed she’d finally found her true love. The two eloped a short time later.

Unfortunately, Gillian’s happiness with Jason would be short lived. Instead of being the man of her dreams, Jason became her worst nightmare. She eventually divorced him, and because they had no children, she believes he’s in the past. Nightmares, however, sometimes have a way of recurring. Gillian’s worst nightmare will suddenly come back to life when she learns that Jason has murdered his current wife. He’s now on the run, and the authorities believe he’s looking for her. What makes the character even more sinister is the fact that he’s lurking, but never actually seen, leaving both Gillian,and Ian to wonder where and when he will finally strike.

Marina Martindale

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Meet Alex Montoya

Leading Man in The Deception

A young man with curly blond hair.
© by Fotolia

Alex Montoya, the leading man in The Deception, has to be one of the most likable, and sexy, characters I’ve ever  created. He’s strong yet quirky and vulnerable at the same time. The American-born son of a Spanish immigrant father, Alex is American in every way. His father, however, still clings to Old World customs and traditions. This creates friction between them.


Alex and Carrie, the leading lady, have a friendship dating back to the fourth grade. They remained friends through high school, but drifted apart when they attended colleges on opposite ends of the country. Ten years later Carrie deeply regrets letting Alex go. After her identity is stolen, and she’s accused of a serious wrongdoing as a result, a friend arranges for her to meet with a bright young attorney who can help her. Much to her surprise, that bright, young attorney is none other than her long-lost best friend, Alex.


I created Alex in part as homage to a friend who was the first American born child of Italian immigrant parents. While proud of her heritage, she too sometimes found herself in conflict with her parents whenever they tried to impose their Old World expectations on her. His other inspiration comes from a real-life cousin who’s an attorney and dedicated family man. In fact, the book is dedicated to him. 


If I had to describe Alex in one word, it would be loyal. He’s the kind of man who’s willing to go the extra mile for the people he cares about, while not expecting anything in return. That’s what makes him such a positive role model.


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I’m Beginning to Scare Myself

An ink splatter.

I’ve had wonderful feedback on some of my antagonists, such as Ryan Knight in The Reunion. I’m happy knowing I’m creating people readers love to hate.

I’m developing a new antagonist for my upcoming novel, The Journey. Her name, for now, is Denise Sanderson, and she will be exceptionally nasty. The other day I described her to a fellow author, but I had to stop myself in mid sentence and say, “You know, I don’t know where these people are coming from. But it’s kind of scary when I stop and think about it.”

Ask any novelist. They’ll tell you that over time, the characters start creating themselves and they’ll tell you who they are. However, they still spring from somewhere deep in our creative psyche.

Some of my villains, like Jason and Ryan in The Reunion, were based on some not-so-nice people I’ve encountered in my own life. Writing about them has certainly helped me release some previously unresolved issues.

Other antagonists however, such as Denise, in the forthcoming Journey, and Maggie, in The Deception, are totally fictitious. They have no real-life counterpart. As a result, it’s made me wonder. Do I really have some deeply buried darker side?

All of us have a dark side, whether we care to admit it or not. These antagonists represent our fears. They represent the sense of outrage and frustration we’ve all encountered at one time or another, and they give us the opportunity to vicariously act out our own anger and frustration. Maybe that’s why we’re so delighted when they finally get their comeuppance. It gives us a chance to purge ourselves of our own demons, and that’s a good thing. That said, they still scare me.

Marina Martindale

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Meet Carrie Daniels, Leading Lady in The Deception

© Can Stock Photo / photography33

I wanted Carrie Daniels, the lead character in my romance novel, The Deception, to have a girl-next-door quality. Judging by the comments I’m receiving from reviewers, I must have hit my mark.

A freelance photographer and former child model, Carrie’s entire world is about to come crumbling down. Three years earlier her mother suffered a debilitating stroke, and Carrie went from riches-to-rags once her mother’s insurance ran out. Her financial calamity, however, is only the beginning of her problems. Her significant other is about to dump her. Once that happens, she’ll be left homeless and vulnerable as her former mentor seizes the opportunity to exploit her for her own selfish gains.

Carrie experiences both sides of infidelity. First she’ll learn that significant other has been unfaithful to her. She’ll then meet Scott, a married man who presents himself to her as single and available. Carrie leaves the relationship once she realizes things aren’t adding up, but by then it will be too late as Scott’s wife seeks revenge. Yet despite her troubles, Carrie remains resilient as she tries to make the best of what she can. She’s the kind of character you can root for; sweet on the outside, but strong on the inside.

Carrie is a mostly fictitious character. While I didn’t model her after anyone in particular, although I’ve put a little of myself into her. Photography is one of my life’s passions, and, in my younger days, I dreamed of being a model.

Marina Martindale

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Meet Ryan Knight, a Despicable Villain in The Reunion

A young man with blonde hair in front of a light background.
Photo by Fololia

You know, creating despicable villains really is too much fun. Ryan Knight from The Reunion is a great example. He certainly got my editor’s, and my proofreader’s, dander up.

Ryan only appears in the flashback chapters, but he makes an impact. Ryan is a college student about to graduate and embark on his career as an architect. He and the young  Gillian have been dating for the past couple of years, but their relationship has become strained. Ryan is putting in a lot of overtime in the architecture building. He says he’s working late on class projects. Gillian, however, has her doubts.

A few days after his graduation, Ryan asks Gillian to stop by his apartment. He has news he wants to share with her. Gillian believes he’s going to propose to her, but Ryan’s idea of a proposal is the last thing she expectes.

Ryan was based on several real life men I’ve known; my ex-husband, a moody ex-boyfriend, and a good friend’s ex-husband. With a cocktail like that, you know you’ll have a real monster on your hands.

My editor commented that Ryan was, “a bit mental.” I also worried that my proofreader would quit on me. Ryan had certainly made her angry. So much so that I had to keep reassuring her that he only appeared in the flashback chapters. He would make his exit in chapter six. After that, his name would rarely be mentioned. Thankfully, she stayed on board.

I’ll conclude by saying that in fiction, conflict creates the drama, and Ryan certainly knows how to create some conflict.

Marina Martindale

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Meet Gillian Matthews

leading lady in THE REUNION

A smiling woman with long blonde hair.
© Can Stock Photo / photography33

Gillian Matthews, the female lead in my romance novel, The Reunion, has had a successful career as an artist and a little fame to go along with it. Her personal life, however, has been a disappointment. She has a knack for getting involved with the wrong men. That will change when travels to Denver for a gallery opening, and man from her past will suddenly reappears.

 Ian Palmer is the one man she never got over. They soon resume their relationship, but her world will shatter once again when something unexpected occurs behind the scenes. She’ll later become the object of affection from a new, and much younger man, while Ian attempts to win her back for a third time.

Gillian is based on a real person. Me. I was a graphic designer before I became a writer, and we’ll just say that my personal life given me some great fodder to work with.

Marina Martindale

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