Joseph Madrid (spoilers)

Here’s my spoiler warning: this post is for people who have completed my novel Jaden Baker. If you haven’t finished reading the book, then what the heck are you doing on my website? Go finish!

It was my father, probably concerned, who first asked, “Where did you come up with Joseph Madrid?” I took the question with a smile. No one can make a sane argument in favor of Madrid, and I have always said that I will have failed as a writer if you, the reader, do not loathe and despise him. He’s wonderfully evil. I say that because, as a writer, it’s fantastic to have such an antagonizing antagonist. But at the same time, the people who know me worry for my inner thoughts and well-being. I have composed this article for them.

So where did he come from? To answer I must first touch on my process of writing, which is this: I document the story. My role as writer is more like an invisible journalist, recording what each character is doing and saying. Seriously, that’s it. I have no idea where any of the story came from. It just entered my head, formed, evolved, and became what it is today. I didn’t sit down and decide that I was going to write about a special boy who would suffer at the hands of absolute evil, escape, and find true love. That’s just not how it works. Jaden chose me, it wasn’t the other way around. Granted, there was a lot of problem solving where I would wonder how each hole would fix itself, and how this and that would happen, but most of it just came to me.

Madrid, then, came with the rest of the Jaden Baker package. He is evil, twisted, sadistic, yet charming on the outside to the rest of the world; well respected, polite, and soft-spoken. It’s Libby who comments in chapter zero how the truly evil are integrated members of society. Those are the real dangerous men (and women), the charmers, the ones you think are all right. When Joseph Madrid came to me, I was ecstatic. All too often the villains are cartoonish in their evil ways. Not Madrid. There’s a purpose and a plan to his actions. He’s learned through trial and error what will work and what won’t. He’s patient, thoughtful, thorough, and consistent. He’s done his research and he takes pleasure in his methods. Because, as you know now that you’ve finished the book, he’s done all of this before…

Tom Clancy is credited with this wonderful quotation: “The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.” And he’s right. Fiction will never measure up to reality. There are real people who are sicker and more twisted than I could ever make Joseph Madrid. More often than not, reality sees justice fail, and there’s no logic to anything, no sense to be made from the madness. Fiction demands resolve. It makes up for the lack of justice of reality; we always love to see the good guy prevail and the villain receive punishment for his actions.

Therefore it’s possible that Madrid is the culmination of real people–not anyone that I know (thank goodness), but certainly of evil men. After all, there’s a reason the term “sadism” was coined. I didn’t invent it. What I enjoyed about Madrid was his own limitations. I didn’t need to control him, he would limit how far he would go without my interference. Since I know what happened off camera, I can safely say that he was more than a little upset that Hoganoff had tried messing with his pet project. He even told Jaden it wouldn’t happen again. That made him, to me at least, seem human. He drew lines in the sand.

I also believe that Seth was right about Madrid, that he would not have harmed Libby in the end. He  knew he didn’t need to, that Jaden would eventually cave in (as he always had). We’ll never know for sure, but I’m convinced he was bluffing, which Seth knew and Jaden wasn’t willing to risk.

Joseph Madrid is a horrible man. But he’s a fabulous villain. So don’t worry about me, I’m fine. Madrid has all the evil and dark thoughts, not me.


  1. Dara Stepanek March 28, 2011 at 12:59 am

    I’m amused that people were worried about your well-being, but glad that it inspired this little snipit of insight 🙂 My favorite series ever is The Sword of Truth and one reason I love it so much is because Mr. Goodkind allows some of the antagonists to be the truly evil characters they are by nature. Not all the “bad guys” are evil because, well, as you said, they don’t portray themselves as evil to Goodkind so he’d be lying in his writing if he wrote them so. Some characters, however, are truly loathsome. There are many times when I cry in anger, boil in frustration, and want to throw the book across the room in the general feeling of outrage. Goodkind doesn’t shy away from writing about who these characters are and that’s what makes the books so wonderful. You can’t put them down because you’re reading about real people.

    I rant about this only because I want to say that I appreciate more than I can say that you, one of the sweetest and most genuinely honest and good people I’ve ever met, can allow yourself to tell of the horrendous things Joseph Madrid has done in his life. I respect you as an author so much because, like a good journalist, you dig down into the truly horrible and look it straight in the face. I think the fact that your protagonist characters rise against Madrid is the testament to your mental stability and moral strength. Yes, I know, you don’t choose how those characters act and feel, but as the author, you’re friends with those characters. And friends of those characters wouldn’t stand for Madrid’s actions either.

    In conclusion: as a person, you’re totally sane and wonderful; as a writer, you’re completely brilliant. As a fan and friend, I love you 🙂 Congrats on the publication!!!

  2. Pingback: What Jaden Baker is About | Courtney Kirchoff