Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Motivation of Evil

Several years ago, when I was first outlining Eternal Knight, my friend, Christian Cameron, sat down with me and let me “pitch” the novel to him. In my pitch I described an epic struggle of good versus evil, all revolving around three ancient artifacts of great power.

As I described the evil warlord leading his hosts in a vicious war of conquest, Christian stopped me.

“What’s his motivation?” Christian asked.


“The bad guy. Why’s he trying to conquer the world?”

“Uhhh,” I started. And then, “Hmmmm.” I thought about it for a bit. “Because he’s, well, bad.”

Christian just gave me a pathetic look. “He’s got to have a reason he wants to do this.”

“He’s evil. Like Sauron.”

“You’re not Tolkien. Tolkien could get away with it.”  And then Christian said something to me that hit me like a truck. “You know what Hitler saw when he looked in the mirror? He saw a hero.” I don’t know if Christian is the first person to make that statement, but it set me back for a moment.

Hitler saw himself as a hero. The bad guy thinks he’s a good guy.  What if my bad guy thinks he’s a good guy?

“He thinks he’s saving the world,” I said.

“From what?”

Ahhhh…from what?

And so the Wasting was born. A dreaded disease of magical origin threatening all life in the world. A disease that everyone wanted to cure.

The good guys want to cure it as well. Wait a sec…. 

What if my bad guy is really the good guy? What if my protagonist discovers she is on the wrong side?

Wait a sec… what if there are no good guys? All the major powers are self-interested and use the Wasting as an excuse to improve their situation.

And so Eternal Knight was born. A protagonist who has grown up in a world dominated by war and the Wasting leaves home to seek aid from greater powers. In her journey she discovers that good isn’t always good and evil isn’t always what it appears to be.

Thanks, Christian.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Crazy Busy

Sorry I've been away so long, but I've been crazy busy lately...

I teach AP Economics to high school seniors and we are taking our AP Exams this Thursday. This is always a very intense time of the year. The whole focus of the year is success on the AP Exams (microeconomics and macroeconomics). If students do well (a score of 4 or 5) they can usually get college credit for the course. This makes success potentially worth two thousand dollars.

In a few days my school year eases up in a big way. Just have to make it through this final push.

On to writing... I've been analyzing and re-analyzing my query strategy. I don't want to mass-query every possible agent all at one time. However, a limited-query effort will mean a lot more waiting. So who do I query first? Patience, patience, patience....

Query-time is a good time to think about the next project. What's been on my mind?
1) The sequel to Eternal Knight.
2) Another novel set in the Eternal Knight world.
3) Re-writing a sci-fi novel I completed (and then abandoned) years ago.
4) Write an oil/espionage thriller.

I did manage to finish the Turkey Hill Classic bike race I mentioned in my last post. "Finish" being the key word. I placed 27th out of 50 starters in the Cat 5 (beginner) race. Don't let this fool you--I was way off the back of the pack. Twenty starters never finished the race.

I enjoyed the experience of the bike race, but was disappionted by my performance. I was dropped by the pack (peleton) in the first half of the first lap (of four 10k laps). I was really hoping to see what it would be like to mix it up in the peleton. The pace was incredibly fast off the start. It was much more than I excpected from a Cat 5 race.

Off to bed! Have a great one!