Like a Mirage

*Not my original image

Well this first novel (Beyond the Southerly Weepers) is almost wrapped. I have two to three more chapters in total, and then I’ll be leaving the post-apocalyptic land of Cal behind for fresh waters. After this last chapter all that remains are two battles at two different locations, a talking monster, a betrayal, and a desperate dash to save a loved one… and then it’s done. It’s a little scary to think about.

I’ve got the next story almost ready. It’s in its’ embryonic stage at the moment, but it involves an alien abduction and a drug kingpin (female lead), and a plot to destroy the Earth. I won’t give away too much, but I’ve had so much fun envisioning her world. With any luck I can pull it off even a tenth of what I can see in my head.

Anyway, for those of you who have finished a project or are in the midst of their debut project here’s why I’m choosing to let Beyond the Southerly Weepers sit for awhile at its’s wrap.

Continue reading

Dark Night of the Soul

As you may or may not know I’m currently working on the novel Beyond the Southerly Weepers, the story of a man and his family as they navigate the often tremulous waters of a post apocalyptic dystopian-future set in my home state of California. The story follows Thompson a man who must come to terms with his strange cybernetic-self, a part of himself he has avoided, in order to find the strength to face the abounding dangers. The first leg of my story was one of flight and introspection, but I’ve reached the point where most of the cards are on the table plain for everyone to see, and what comes next is action.

This is daunting. Continue reading

Perception is the Enemy

Perception, a glass half full or half empty and full of truths and deceit.

Been away writing. This next chapter is challenging for me. So many emotions must come to a head, and beyond that DeFalco (the villain) will make a key move. What he has to do is convince Thompson that he is an ally and that he has his family’s interests at heart. This is a tall order, but it deals with slight of hand. DeFalco is a master manipulator who has always orchestrated events to see himself come out on top, and in this chapter he makes a masterful play, he is able to drive a wedge between Thompson and the Wilder-Folk and he is able to make Thompson begin to realize that he is his only hope for survival in this new world… From this point forward Thompson will be watched closely through DeFalco’s sights.

This leads me to two of the themes I’ve been working with here, namely perception and trust. How can you trust anybody if you can’t even trust yourself? In my story it comes down to things not seeming what they are. The dystopian government pretends at having the interests of the people at its heart. The world itself can’t be trusted because not more than a few short generations ago Humanity was nearly wiped out by something called the Phantenheit virus. Beyond that Thompson is a product of his world… the world keeps its secrets from him, and he keeps his secret (The fact that he is a cyborg) from the world, his family, and even himself.

I know it’s an old trope, but it’s been fun to explore. I can see the ties to my real life plainly enough. If I’m looking for errors in perception I need look no further than childhood social studies where we learned about the 13 colonies and their “valiant efforts to spread freedom throughout America.” Later on we learned that perhaps those early motive weren’t so entirely noble. So there we have the government and propaganda, and there is probably one of the first seeds of mistrust ever sown.

Then we have first loves. When I was younger I was so sure I’d found lasting love. Heart break was hard enough when you were dealing with it for the first time, but if you’ve ever had something good fall apart on you, beyond your control, and seemingly defying all reason you face something dangerous… loss, and the realization that in some instances you are not in control of your story. I think that kind of loss is a reminder to us that we are mortal. I felt loss at the end of a relationship that felt worse than the death of a grandparent, and I’ve even felt guilt over the selfishness that. I grieved more over the loss of a woman, when no one was dying or hurt physically, and all I can say is that like most of us I am indeed flawed.

Perhaps that is the ultimate betrayal of our existence. We are allowed to live, some of us are allowed to see, or envision, how beautiful life can be and then biology catches up with us, and we die. I know, I’m sorry this post took a dark turn! We were talking about perception and trust and how those two themes worked in my current novel, but it’s interesting to trace where some of these things may have come from within the self is it not?

And that’s Thompson’s burden. He mistrusts himself, and I think that’s where he, and a lot of heroes, are most relatable to people now a days. If you ever felt like a fraud, or worried that you wouldn’t be up to the challenge of standing up for the things and the people you say you believe in then you understand the challenge of perception, trust, and doubt… self-doubt being the worst of all. If Thompson is to triumph in the end, and I think he might, then I suppose the underlying message of my story is, trust thyself.

Anyway thanks for reading,

David

PS- what themes or character traits (in books or movies, anything really) do you find resonating with you?

On Martyrdom and Self Sacrifice

The Death of Socrates, Oil on canvas

There’s something about the story of a martyr that strikes the imagination. Regardless of how historical facts become exaggerated and dramatized to make the martyr more appealing to audiences the fact that these extraordinary people were willing to give their lives for their convictions is what makes so damn alluring. Life is precious, but for these people less precious than the rest of the world knowing that they value their beliefs above their own personal needs… thats where concepts like altruism and idealism come from. Because at the end of the day the world is just going to keep spinning, and the great ship that is Humanity (With a capital H) is steered only chance and circumstance, or god if you believe in such things. So it’s quite possible that a Martyr is just a stone thrown deep into the still calm of a placid lake, and the ripples generated by that impact, by the martyr’s sacrifice, still reverberate through time.

Now we live in a day and age where we’ve seen the whole “self-sacrifice” trope played out so many times we could all do a TEDtalk about it… and yet these stories still thrive in our modern society. Sure modern writer’s may embelish the plots by adding a love triangle or some supernatural element, but this tale of belief and death for said belief is still very prevalent.

Sure, it’s classic, I’ll grant you that. I myself have toyed with the idea in my own novel, Beyond the Southerly Weepers. There are about three endings in mind, and 2 of the 3 involve self sacrifice. In one my hero, a cyborg who pays for the use of his most special ability with the shortening of his own life span, uses the weapon stored within him to obliterate an enemy that has hounded him since the dawn of his existence. It is an act of genocide in a way, as well as revenge, and what comes of it is mutually assured destruction. Another involves my hero’s partner knowing, and stopping him before he can do it. She would then solve problems her own way, and give her life to assure that Thompson doesn’t have to give his own. And the Third is more in line with GoT, so we need not go there in the interests of this post.

As you can see the inkling is there. I too am infatuated with the mythos of martyrdom. We romanticize these stories again and again, and they are as alluring today as they were thousands of years ago. Batman, a modern example of a man who gives up a normal life to protect those who were like him when he lost his parents. Jesus is the most prominent classical example, but I prefer Socrates (He doesn’t come back to life, so his sacrifice isn’t lessened in any way. Just my opinion). So my question is this…

How might you construct a short story focused around a central character who is martyred in some way?

Feel free to leave your comments or observations below! 🙂