Top ten inspirations for Demigod Conception

I had a great time with some friends this last weekend and we had some deep conversations about what a weird world we live in, and how hard it can be to get by from day to day, especially if you’re poor, out of work, addicted, or homeless. Think about other people when you cast your votes this season – I don’t care who you vote for, so long as you do it with good conscience and measured thought.

Demigod Conception - Demigod Chronicles IWe also had a much shallower, but more fun conversation about what inspired me to write my book. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have inspirations – many, in fact. Some people, some were events, some were things I know I like or dislike. However, I don’t remember many of them, as I wrote Demigod Conception over such a long period.

So, here’s a rundown of some of the main ideas I wanted to get across, in a top ten list, because who doesn’t love lists? Before anyone gets angry and says they hate any of these, remember: My book. Not yours. That said, feel free to disagree in the comments below. :D

10) No Royalty. (Not royalties, I like those.) I dislike kings, dukes, barons, and princes. Queens are okay, but only if they’re gay. Princesses are not okay, neither are duchesses, nor baronesses. I hate knights, errant or straight. Unless they guard bridges. Royalty bothers me. I’m American, okay? We’re born this way now.

9) No teenage boy coming of age story. *Yawn*. Read it too many times. Also, I dislike the awkward non-sexual crush they must have on the only cute but unobtainable girl in their village.

8) My hero wants to go home. One of my favorite facets of heroic literature is the uncomfortable hero. They are thrust into their position and must decide: will they take up the challenge?

7) Battles aren’t won by warriors and feats of strength. Not always, anyhow. Battles are sometimes won by logic, timing, and cunning. Remember the invasion of Iraq? We hardly shot a bullet there because we had great timing and troop movement.

6) I want a female hero! When I started writing this, I felt like you could only find female heroes in Anne McCaffrey fantasies. There wasn’t even a Buffy back then. I was dying for a powerful female character willing to bust some heads. Kyla fit the bill.

5) No weak women. I love Ursula LeGuin’s work. I would love to have that kind of talent. But, I can at least follow her lead and promote my female characters to the helm. I have a baddie, a hero, and several female side characters that I hope are strong parts of the story. I’m particularly fond of Cameo, who will take a much bigger role in the sequel.

4) I want action. I remember reading a book where the main character had an entire battle described like this: “Stepping crow, cross-sweep. Upward crane, flying cheese-cloth. Split the silk with dragon tooth.” The author had jumped the shark for me, and had been watching waaaay too much kung-fu. I love kung-fu movies, don’t get me wrong. But this is a book. There’s no cool action on screen to back up the fancy-snappy names for the moves. The reader has to see it. The author must describe it. That’s the arrangement. I decided I would have action in my stories. Always. If I ever make a story with no action, slap me.

3) People are complex. We’re both experts and novices, perfect and flawed. Even people I dislike are complex, and deserve respect. Everyone’s a hero in their own story.

2) Black holes are awesome. (Think about it. There’s a black hole MacGuffin in the book.)

1) Bald people rule.


Allegiance – a night with George Takei and Lea Salonga

Allegiance official site
I feel privileged to have gotten to see Allegiance before it ventures off to the bright lights of Broadway.

First off, I want to thank the cast, crew, and the Globe Theater for producing this wonderful musical. In many ways this is an ‘unmarketable’ production, but they believed in it, and made a beautiful, important thing come to life.

In another way, there’s no way this play would not have been made, in some media or form, eventually. The story is too good, too central to what it means to be American, to stay quiet and hidden for long. The events described here bring together so many American paradoxes that we hold dear and hate with vitriol that we need to see it, we need to process it as a nation, as a people. We need to remember, not with our minds, but with our hearts.

The amazing thing is that the writers brought all of this together with such a deftness of skill and truth that I decided to give them a writeup here, even though this is a speculative fiction blog (for the most part) centering on Science Fiction and Fantasy most of the time. But, in two important ways, the Allegiance story has bearing on my writing.

First of all, it is a story about a people subjected to relocation, estrangement from the people around them, and who had so much taken from them in a country that promised that could never happen. In a country based on the idea that all men are created equal. (Ha. Ever listen to that sentence? What about women, huh? Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about.) My next book will also feature a situation similar to this, but on a different world, with different outcomes, and with different reasons.

Second of all, the entire experience was so outlandish, so counterintuitive, so speculative, that if you didn’t know it was real, it would be hard to maintain the audience’s suspension of disbelief. But we know it was real. We know that no Hawaiian Asians were sent to camps, even though Hawaii was the only US territory attacked by the Japanese. That makes no logical sense, even if you believed in the original reason for the relocations. We know that Japanese were interned all across the country, but only up to the Mississippi. Then on the east coast, they were left alone. That makes no sense. We know that Japanese who had been born in the United States of America (citizens!) were held without charge, bail, or any sort of due process based on a piece of paper signed by the President.

That makes no sense.

But it all happened, and it could happen again. Remember the other George? Not Takei, the terrifying one. Bush. What would that man have done to our Asian brothers and sisters if he had been president at the time, knowing that he authorized torture of the men alleged to be a terrorist or thought to at one point have walked down the same street as a terrorist?

We have long known the extent of presidential power in the United States goes far above and beyond what most of us are comfortable with. I feel that I speak for people on both sides of the fence politically when I say that an executive order that you don’t agree with could totally ruin your life.

Think about your skin color. Your religion (or lack thereof). Your social status. Your partner. Your family. Ask yourself, what if your particular sub-group was the first to be targeted by the next man who thinks himself a king, not an elected ruler?

What if you were first? What if you went to the camps? To Guantanamo? For what? Something you thought innocuous. Loving someone you “shouldn’t.” All it takes is the threat of war and a cozy Congress and suddenly your president becomes your judge, jury, and perhaps executioner.

Seems like science fiction. Fantasy, maybe? But no. This is all too real. All too possible. No, that kind of story is called Horror.

Altered by A D Croucher – Quick, awesome read

New recommendation time. This time, it’s Altered, the first in what I hope is a series by A. D. Croucher.

I’m tired, so I’ll just link out to my review on Amazon, but I shall add a bit beyond that I really dig this piece.

From an independent novelist’s point of view, I enjoyed it more than just because of the prose. I also liked that it’s basically a novella that doesn’t have to fit into the traditional 250-350 page format. I bet this piece is about 20-25,000 words, shorter than a normal book by one third. Still, it feels complete, and better than that, it feels complex.

Most of the characters in this story grow and mature, or at least change, and the Altered title describes both the emotional world of the characters and the scientific mechanism that drives the plot. It all comes together like peanut butter and chocolate.

If you want a good young-adult urban science-fiction story, treat yourself to this.