Guest Post: Clare C. Marshall on Writing the Bad Guy

Please welcome back to the blog, Clare Marshall!

It’s been a year since her first YA novel, Within, was published, and I’m a part of her celebratory blog tour. Today, Clare talks about writing the bad guy:


It’s not every story that we get to hear from the bad guy.

If you’ve never heard of my book before, here’s a brief synopsis. It’s about a girl named Trinity who gets in a car accident, and as a result, has brain damage. But then she starts uncontrollably writing a novel, streamlining the consciousness of a murderer who turns out to be very real. It’s up to Trinity’s boyfriend Zack, and Trinity’s best friend Ellie to determine who the murderer is before he finds them—and he’s closer to home than they realize. Plus, the book takes place in the very real city of Halifax.

Within is written in third person with multiple POVs, and one of those POVs is the psychotic murderer, named Edmund. Now, Edmund fancies himself a clever man, and in many ways, he is quite clever. He likes to prey upon the weak-minded to help him with his schemes–aka, murdering those he considers to be impure–ethnic minorities and homeless people especially. He makes up a fake god named Omnus, who demands sacrifice, and grants power to his followers for each kill. In reality, during the convoluted killing ritual that Edmund has concocted, he serves wine laced with a powerful hallucinogenic to his followers.

But why, you might be asking, why would it be necessary to have Edmund go through all this song and dance just to kill people? Why can’t he just stab his victims in an alleyway? A couple of reasons: first of all, that would be too boring for him. It’s about the chase: picking out his victims according to his specific code of twisted ethics, and capturing them, taking them to his secret lair beneath the Halifax Common. The Commons (as it’s locally known) is a park in Halifax that you really don’t want to go around at night. Or at least, when I lived in Halifax, it wasn’t a place you wanted to be after dark, alone.

It’s also about the control Edmund has over the people gullible enough to buy into his charade. His followers become addicted to the feeling of power that he gives them. His dark rituals take place in caverns beneath the Commons, so he can hide his face from the public and practice his guilty pleasures. The more involved his devotees become, the more they have to lose.

And because Edmund prefers this kind of chase, this kind of control, he needs his followers to help him kidnap his victims and get rid of their remains. The more complicated the scheme, the more loose ends there are.

Will these loose ends be Edmund’s undoing? Well, you’re just going to have to read it and find out!

Read more about Within at Faery Ink Press (, and enter the giveaway to win a physical copy (open internationally!)

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Clare Marshall grew up in rural Nova Scotia with very little television and dial up internet, and yet, she turned out okay. She has a combined honours degree in journalism and psychology from the University of King’s College, and is a graduate from Humber College’s Creative Book Publishing Program. She is a freelance editor, designer and website manager, and enjoys publishing books through her publishing imprint, Faery Ink Press. When she’s not writing, she enjoys playing the fiddle and making silly noises at cats.

4 thoughts on “Guest Post: Clare C. Marshall on Writing the Bad Guy

  1. I love a good bad guy in other people’s writings. The one thing that bothers me the most in unpublished fiction is just how easy it is for the good guys to succeed. The bad guy is so bad at being a bad guy he all but hands out business cards with ways to defeat him written in pencil on the back of each one.

    The power of redemption is an amazing one, and if the bad guy isn’t worth redemption, than he’s less interesting to me. You have a very clear writing style.

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