Villains in Literature and Cinema


The greatest villains in story are those who appear sympathetic and are complex; their goals and their ideals always appear reasonable. They make sense – even if they’re psychotic in their origin. The machinations of the villain always work against the protagonist(s), but not necessarily for worse.

In my novel Dead Reckoning – what or who is the actual villain? You have terror, you have evil, you have a darkness that threatens to destroy all good and light but … who is it? where is it?

If there was a SATAN – he would be the most sympathetic fellow around. Everyone would love him, and they wouldn’t realize the depths of his evil until the very end – when his goals come to fruition.

Annie Mitchell is a complex villain, and yet – she’s sympathetic. She’s reason too within her own psychosis. She’s the proagonist AND antagonist – at the same time.

The Joker (Dark Knight version) is a well-crafted villain. Yes he’s psychotic and there’s no doubt he’s a villain, yet – his motives are reasonable. They possess impact on a story that argues the point of altruism and heroics. The Joker is a catalyst for what the city of Gotham is already facing in it’s heart. His machinations change the landscape – for better or worse – for the entire milieu. He even has moments where his psychosis transcends reason.

Two complex and great literary villains (as well as cinematic) are Hannibal Lechter and Dracula. They possess style and regalia; they seem pure in their focus and their intentions. Both are inherently evil, and yet, the reader is drawn to them because they offer illumination in their way – as a candle flame for a moth. They are somehow perfect, even within their negative position. Hannibal is sympathetic within his cannabalism; Dracula is sexy even when he drains you of your blood. They are almost one and the same – and they draw the same type of fan.

Buy Dead Reckoning!

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Research for the Novel, Dead Reckoning

One of the chores a writer of fiction must do – almost as much as a nonfiction author – is painstaking research on particulars and disciplines he/she may not know too much about. We fiction authors are like substitute teachers; we’re trying to teach people the intricacies of foreign language one day and then instructing how to work a band saw the next.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is featured in the novel, DEAD RECKONING. Great pains were taken in researching the facilities – but no doubt can never be accurate enough. Anyhow, both Annie and Stew – main characters – are students before their horrific tragedy off the Outer Banks in 2003.

I’ve always wanted to be a marine biologist or an oceanographer. I’ve just never been able to cross the frontier. Dead Reckoning is a labor of love and fantasy and … horror.

Dead Reckoning (Amazon): Buy the Book Here

WHOI website: WHOI

Divers courtesy the WHOI

Divers courtesy the WHOI

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Brief Author Bio and Bibliography

M Cid D’Angelo’s writings began when he was just a young’n – around 7 years or so – when he had a moment like the character in Field of Dreams with an urge to extend his playtime developed into writing about it. “If you write about it, it doesn’t go away.” While many of his friends devoted themselves to sports and games after school, young Mikey pursued reading the enormous book collection that someone had left behind in the attic. Thus, he began to write about many things, especially dog stories and Godzilla, until he completed his first novel-length manuscript at 15 after discovering a Royal Electric typewriter in his bedroom closet of the apartment his family had just moved into.

His first published work was an article for a treasure hunting hobby magazine and later, a historical article concerning 16th century Japanese Samurai in Military History Magazine. A US Navy veteran and a former archaeology student at the University of Tennessee, D’Angelo has been a radio announcer, a technical writer for Microsoft, and an Improv comedy performer in Las Vegas.

Since then, his short stories have appeared in diverse online and print literary magazines and journals such as Aiofe’s Kiss, Third Wednesday, Silk Road Review, Calliope, Midway Journal, decomP magazine, and many others. Dead Reckoning is his first published novel by J Ellington Ashton Press (2015).


“Reading Between the Lines: Researching Little Known

or Unknown Treasures” (Lost Treasure Magazine, November 2001)

“With the might of a shôgun, Oda Nobunaga rose from

obscurity to becoming one of Japan’s most formidable rulers” (Military History

Magazine,  2002)

“The Light” (Aoife’s Kiss, December 2006)(I)

“A Far Away Place” (CC&D, 2007)(I)

“Girl Sunday” (Eureka Literary Magazine, Fall


“Thumbs Up” (Midway Journal, Spring 2010)(I)

“Adagio in the Dark” (Lady Jane’s Miscellany, Summer


“A Far Away Place” (Urban Mozaik 2010)(II)

“Thumbs Up” (Third Wednesday, Summer 2010)(II)

“Don Quixote de Las Vegas” (Moronic Ox, December


“Chad and Willie Break a Leg” (The Legendary, Spring


“In the Garden” (decomP magazinE, Spring 2013)

“Girl Sunday” (Calliope, Fall 2013)(II)

“Band of Gold” (The Legendary, Spring 2014)

“The Road from Tahlequah” (Niche Literary Magazine,

Summer 2014)

“Girl in the Window” (Stepping Stones, 2014)

“The Light” (The Sirens Call Magazine, Summer


“Lonesome Road” (Silk Road Review, 2015)

Dead Reckoning (J Ellington Ashton Press,


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“The Light”

My short horror story, “The Light”, was first drafted in 1992 and became the very first of my fiction to be sold, some 14 years later. During its original drafting, I didn’t think much of its chances for success and shelved it. It wasn’t until much later when I took it down, dusted it off, and attempted to get it sold. I recall being surprised at its quick acceptance after revising it. It appears in the December 2006 issue of Aiofe’s Kiss – a sci/fi genre magazine. The editor at the time, Tyree Campbell, flattered me by stating that even though their magazine was given mostly to science fiction, he loved the horror story so much she blew their general guidelines to include it.

The short story was published a second time by The Siren’s Call in 2014 and found its way as a supplement into my seaside horror novel, Dead Reckoning (J Ellington Ashton Press, 2015).


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Original Manuscript – Dead Reckoning


This is a photo of the unedited FINAL draft of the seaside horror novel, Dead Reckoning (J Ellington Ashton Press, 2015). I’m thinking of giving it up for a contest. This draft is prior to final edits with the JEA staff and long before the formatted, published novel.

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In Paperback and Kindle ….

Dead Reckoning

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J Ellington Ashton Press Interviews M Cid D’Angelo!

Interviewer: Amanda Lyons (JEA Press)

Inner Voices Author Interview

  1. Your book Dead Reckoning just came out through JEA, it’s clearly a very involved novel with some twists and turns. Can you tell us a bit about the process of writing it?

There are two narratives in the story, the main plot as well as an analysis by a narrator. The novel itself is a psychological horror story, an intense study in the lives of two normal people who are subject to an intangible “evil” haunting the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This meant I had to play two roles in the writing of the novel – a factual presentation as well as a storyteller. Both sides augment each other, and it was paramount to establish each section in that way, and not to wander off on tangents.

  1. Much like House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski this one involved some other bits and pieces, things that build the story up and make it more involved, did you have to do any research for it? What made you choose the style and story?

The novel is set up in two sections, actually. The main narrative is a straight-forward tale, day-to-day life, of the main characters – Annie Mitchell and Stewart Eddinger. The second section is broken up into addenda material, that is, special and “extra” material that is not part of the main narrative, but expands and enhances the tragic events surrounding the main characters and the oceanographic project they’re working on. It’s a video diary in its way. The novel is meant to be visual in a highly literary way.

Most of the addenda material is taken from a variety of sources and shaped for the use of the novel itself. There is, despite the horror/supernatural elements behind it, a scientific approach. This is a novel steeped in oceanography and marine biology. It is a novel that has seen years of my personal interest in these fields of study.

  1. Do you often write stories of the supernatural? If so, what supernatural topics interest you as a writer? Any that rub you the wrong way or you think are done to death?

There is always, at least, a slight tinge of what we would term “paranormal” or “preternatural” in my stories, even the literary ones. When I was younger, I wrote much speculative fiction, but as I’ve gotten older, these elements usually become a backdrop to the main narrative rather than the plot itself. Dead Reckoning is a straight-up supernatural/horror novel, however and was written when I was younger and still given to that phase.

I enjoy ghostly stories and hauntings mainly. I’m not big into vampires or werewolves or pulp fiction monsters; these have been trod over again and again in many forms. Some of these stories have been innovative and clever, but most are usually rehash.

  1. What other genres do you write? Tell us a bit about some of your other publications.

I am a published short story author, and I also have some nonfiction articles in hobby/special interest magazines like Lost Treasure (a metal-detecting magazine) and Military History. Most of my short stories tend to be literary, that is, sans sci-fi/horror/fantasy etc., and are closer to works written by literary authors such as Joyce Carol Oates and Dylan Thomas. These short stories can be found in a myriad of online and in print university-based literary journals.

  1. What’s your take on writing as an industry? Should authors be giving the same value to indie markets as they do to traditional publishers? Are they equal?

I have a nostalgic heart for the traditional markets. I’ve had literary agent contracts and one of my other novels, Dark Running, was slated to be picked up by Simon & Schuster some years ago. That deal fell through, however, and made me rather bitter! It made my agent at the time very bitter too. However, the Big Houses can offer substantial advances and a high profile that Indies and Small Presses cannot. This outlook is changing, though, I believe. Many small presses and Indies are gaining power and recognition.

  1. Do you find promotion and submission difficult? What do you think can be done to make things a bit better for writers like yourself? What would you tell newer authors based on your own experiences?

Promotions for me are difficult because of budgeting. Money is the main qualifier here. Some people can shamelessly promote themselves and have a good financial base (paychecks, family, loans etc) to push their books. I believe I’m too frugal to actually make a dent in effective promotion and rely on others and word-of-mouth ay too much. Submissions, on the other hand, are not an issue. I submit in sprints, usually, but also during specific times of the year when markets are more open to submissions. I’ve relied somewhat on my platform as a traditionally-published short story author too – but so far, I haven’t seen any progress toward book sales or literary contracts in that vein. I’m known, but I don’t seem to be a demand! ;)

  1. How long have you been writing? Was it always something you wanted to do? Have your experiences been good thus far?

I remember wanting to write short stories when I was in my single-digits, and have written continuously ever since. I enjoy the act of writing – the creation – but I feel that I haven’t been as successful as I should be, especially when it comes to making a living.

  1. What other books do you have in progress or do you hope to be done with in the next few years?

As of late I’ve been rather aimless and lethargic. Sometimes there are periods of rediscovery and reinvention of what a writer needs to be. I am working on a martial arts/Wuxia/fantasy novel set in ancient China that is reminiscent of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, but the first draft has been hit and miss. I’m also working on a pseudo sci/fi book about modern psychic spies working in the US Government and private contractors (ala Jon Ronson’s The Men Who Stare at Goats).

Dead Reckoning

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