Using an anthology submission to build a villain’s backstory

Using an anthology submission to build a villain's backstory


Truth be told, my compulsive pedantic nature is impacting my novel writing. I feel the need to fully explore and understand the backgrounds of my characters. Now I know that a lot of writing methodologies say that this is a good thing, but it so slows me down. As a result I ask myself “how can I turn this into a positive?”

Enter magazines and anthologies. I stumbled across a call for submissions for an anthology called Monsters. The editors at Grey Matter write:

We are looking for your most horrifying, most dreadful, most frightening tales that highlight the creatures that haunt your nightmares, or even those who may live down the block. For this anthology we want your dark, chilling, character-driven tales portraying the deadliest monsters of all—mankind.

Oooooooo! Perhaps I can write something for this and thereby fill in some character back story while also preparing an audience for the novel (whenever the latter ever gets finished).

Grey Matter are looking for 3k to 7.5k words to be submitted by 30 January 2015. It’s a tight deadline, especially considering my work obligations and current physical limitations. But what is life without a challenge?

So what will I write? Well, my main villain in Tempting in Shade is a perverted little mad scientist called Kerphulu. He is exceptionally brilliant,  almost erotically compelled to inflict pain, enjoys slicing people up, recognises his own villainy, is drawn to all things involving the anatomy of magic and yet also has a desire to change the world for the better. Huh? That last bit sounds a bit strange.

So I will try to write a pivotal point in Kerphulu’s history that demonstrates all of these things. The one I chose was where Kerphulu is 18 and “operates” upon his younger female cousin. I chose this because there are repercussions evident in my novel set a few decades later. It also demonstrates most of his nature.

I am worried that I may need to step over my own comfort lines. I have never wanted to write anything with too much in the way of sexual overtones. Yet Kerphulu’s perversions demand something of this. Especially upsetting when I will be mixing it with violence. Yes, a real challenge to my own sensibilities. But should not a writer stretch themselves?

So I have a laptop sitting on a small table next to by sofa lounge. I am lying on this because it eases the pain in my right shoulder and arm. I will type with my left hand while I recline.

I would be interested to hear from any of you about times when you have had to overstep your comfort zones in the name of art (be it writing, painting or anything else).





  1. Hi Greg! Thanks for stopping by my main blog! I think every writer steps over their comfort line at some point; I’m a very pragmatic woman who hasn’t got a bone in my body that’s interested in fashion – unless it’s a few thousand years old and discovered on a skeleton (for that side of me, see my blog, Having said that, I’ve written two 18th century historical novels, and am now working on the third in the trilogy; that genre and its audience want to read about the fashions they wore, and so I had to do a LOT of research on that topic (and it was not a focus in the book)! My first novel was set in England two years before the French Revolution, which meant that the fashions were decidedly different than just a year or two later. But try to find 1788-specific fashion plates. Ain’t happenin’.
    Now my research in that area has moved back a generation, to 1750s & ’60s, with rank-specific royal navy uniforms thrown into the mix… I’m starting to get comfortable outside of my comfort zone, and that’s the point – take that land! Make your weakness your strength… you’ll be glad you did!


    1. Thankyou so much for visiting and commenting :) The main novel that I am writing is a science-fiction/fantasy type novel and the research has been (and continues to be) onerous as I feel that I owe my potential readers something realistic. LOL. I love hearing about your research into uniforms because that topic used to fascinate me 30 years ago when I even owned a few books on that subject! I loved your post . As you can see I am only a few months into this whole world of blogging and am finding it fascinating. So many interesting people posting about interesting topics! Back to topic, I ponder your words about making my weakness into a strength. I’m not sure that I can make sexual topics a strength, but certainly I should not be intimidated by them. It just seems a little personal. Its closer to opening your soul up to someone than a lot of other topics. Nevertheless, I will take your advice and work at it. :) Thanks :)


      1. I understand your point on the sexual aspect of a character!! But thinking into the motivations, psychological profile and the complexities of a wounded soul will take it so much deeper, that the sexual aspect will just be one component in a character that will pop out of the page!


        1. i am beginning to havr some fun with this character in my mind. ☺ i am exploring his wounds and his resposes. Thanks. I will let you know how he turns out. ☺


  2. :-) Enjoy the process, and write, write, write!


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