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Short Story Sale to Kzine

Monday, 15 October 2012

So, just sold a short story to Kzine, the fine Kindle-based genre magzine. Lord Lion's Design is a vampire story, but it's also a story that touches (lightly) on British politics and current affairs, as the opening suggests:

Lord Lion, Home Secretary of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, lifted the chalice of blood that Brabham, his butler, had brought for him. It was only midday, but he needed a drink.

In fact, I had a particular politician in mind when I wrote the story (I'm obviously not going to say whom, but not our current Home Secretary, who is female and, I'm sure, not undead). My Home Secretary is pretty vile and, among other things, a racist. And I have to confess that, much as I despise racism, I found him fun to write. Partly because of what I do to him in the story, sure, but also because he's evil.

Which is odd, now that I think about it. And also perhaps a little worrying. Lord Lion's Design is not a dull moralistic debate (I hope), but it does contain a debate of sorts. And I suppose it's possible for some readers to react differently to that debate. Maybe, even, to admire characters I would despise in real life.

But that's good, right? It's good to dramatise a debate rather then lecturing. Still, I feel this slight urge to  preface the story with an "I'm not racist, honest" disclaimer. Which I'll resist as the story needs to stand (or fall) on its own. But, see, now I've written this blog post which reads very much like just such a disclaimer...

So, do you read/write "evil" characters? Do you find doing so hard or strangely liberating?


  1. Congrats, Simon. Glad to see you've chosen to go with an evil vampire.

  2. Huge congratulations!!!

    I think it's an insult to the undead to have such a character! LOL!! I'm kidding!!

    Love evil amoral characters - they are fun to write and read - so long as the moral compass is sound that is! Does that make sense? Hope so!!

    Take care

  3. Oh I read and write some incredibly dark fiction. I don't know where the darkness comes from because in real life, I think I'm pretty happy go lucky. I just like writing about evil stuff.

  4. I've been told the antagonist in my WiP is great while my protagonist is kinda eh. Better work on that! They have to at least be somewhat matched.

    Congrats on the story sale!

  5. Jeff - Thanks. Yep, too many "nice" monsters about in fiction...

    Old Kitty - It does make sense! I just hope readers don't think I'm evil and amoral. Because that would obviously be wrong...

    Michael - Maybe that's the whole point: fiction etc. allows us to play with the darkness without actually being, you know, evil.

    Thanks, Madeline!

  6. Well done!

    I like dark characters. Makes a read so much more interesting.

  7. Donna - you're right, of course. Can't have the day without the night. It was just the editor said the racist views expressed by this one character troubled him. Which I totally get. He also said the story was "excellent" and "extremely well written", so I'm happy really...

  8. You know I find it very hard to write evil characters. When I invest in them they tend to be nuanced. The closest I get is when I write alien. And I usually make it clear that the characters are acting within the confines of an alien society.

    This makes it sound as if its a good thing in my writing. This is not the case.

    Story isn't real life, and often a bad character can provide the driving force for the narrative. You've only got to look at tv to see that.

    I do find it hard to write evil. Thanks for the reminder, Simon.

  9. Deborah, It's definitely something I'm working on, too. My characters tend to be reasonable, decent people but you're right, you need antagonists and even anti-heroes. Fortunately I do enjoy writing them! The protag of my Genehunter novelettes, for example, is not always a very nice person...

  10. It's good to be bad -- sometimes, right? Congratulations, Amigo!

  11. I have written a serial killer character and I must say I enjoyed the experience. Not sure what that says about me!

  12. Ellie - Writing about them is fine. Being one, not so much.


I'd love to know what you think.