Parallel Realities   Leave a comment

December 11, 2017 – Writing parallels – parallels between events and your writing, topic or genre.

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Willow Branch Blue White Recreation CoverI’m sure there probably are some parallels between Daermad Cycle and real life, but it’s very much hidden in the fantasy genre. Unless you want to be really preachy, it’s best to keep theme connections to the real world pretty light. For the record, really preachy tends to put off some people. By some, I mean a lot. You can certainly comment on historical events in fantasy, but you hurt yourself a lot and the book as well if you try to comment on modern society.

So, Daermad Cycle (The Willow Branch, Mirklin Wood and the upcoming Fount of Wraiths) draws parallels from feudal society and the discussion of racism and slavery, but it holds back from more modern topics simply because fantasy readers aren’t generally looking to be preached at.

There is a hiking scene in Mirklin Wood that is based upon a trail Brad and I take to get our salmon every summer. If you want a gander at what my world looks like, it’s a pretty good rendition of it.

But parallels do exist in Transformation Project because it’s an apocalyptic and that sort of preachiness is acceptable in that genre. My character live in a time that could be tomorrow. They’ve lived through the presidencies and events most of us remember. Their history is our history … except theirs took a sharp turn the day after tomorrow and they’re living in the aftermath.

Two Cover Montage

Transformation Project was born of Barack and Michelle Obama’s promise to “fundamentally transform the United States of America.” For the record, while I think they dealt a major blow to the culture of liberty in America, I don’t think they accomplished their goal. Of course, they’ve not been out of the White House for a year, so it’s hard to be sure. I suspect the current upheaval in the political realm is a rejection reaction to the transformation they tried to start … or really accelerate. Maybe the people who voted for Donald Trump are T-cells attacking a virus. Sometimes perfectly normal immune responses go too far. Maybe the Trump presidency is the psoriasis that develops after the body attacks some life-threatening plague before it can kill us. The good news is that psoriasis can get better when you remove what set it off in the first place.

A Threatening Fragility Front CoverBut let’s not chase that rabbit. The Obamas promised to “fundamentally transform the United States of America” and my daughter and I spent a long, Alaska car trip discussing how that might happen, creating a story that had elements of Transformation Project in it, but ultimately would have written itself into a corner had I pursued it.

Then I looked around our world and saw all sorts of economic and political woes. “Mirastan” in the books could be Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya … I combine elements of all of them because I didn’t want to have to research another country so that Shane’s statements about it would be correct, but also so I could say things about it that might be true of any of them. My readers can form their own conclusions.

Economically, I created a United States that is heavily in debt and beginning to face the consequences of that. I only really deal with the riots, rising prices and union difficulties  in Life As We Knew It because in subsequent books, I’ve blown up the cities and my small town is struggling to form its own disaster plan. You will find my characters in Emmaus still care about liberty — which they define as the ability to do what is necessary to survive. They will say what’s on their minds and do what they need to do. Not to let too many cats out of the bag, but the next book (Thanatosis) deals in part with what happens when the middle-sized cities begin to empty in search of resources that are no longer flowing in from the country side.

The characters who are outside of the town face the realities of martial law, because I’m aware of Executive Order 12919 (National Defense Resources Preparedness) which Obama signed in 2012.  This was by no means the first Executive Order signed by a president that could be used to grant him (or her) marital law in time of crisis, but that it exists at all in the form that it does created the premise for the third book of Transformation Project, A Threatening Fragility.

I hang out with people who pray for the end of government as we know it in the near-future because they believe it would give people the opportunity to fix a lot of what is wrong with American society, so naturally, I am drawn to exploring what would happen when/if the federal government collapses. I don’t think it will all be okay — that enough guns, faith and individualism would automatically result in functional local government to replace the overbearing federal government. As I move deeper into the series, I show local government struggling to adapt and sometimes failing miserably. The negligence of the City of Emmaus killed almost a hundred people in the second book, Objects in View.

Hullabaloo Tugawar Front CoverBy total contrast, the novelette Hullabaloo on Main Street is set in this world, November 9, 2016. In this political satire, libertarian Conor wakes up the day after the Presidential election to discover his small Midwestern town embroiled in controversy over the outcome of the election. The book was based on a Politico article “What If A Red State Moves to You?” which focused on a Wisconsin county that had voted Democratic for more than a half-century, but swung hard for President Trump in 2016. I added a twist to get away from the Politico writer’s clear bias in favor of Democrats. Conor is a libertarian anarchist who doesn’t vote. He doesn’t really care who won the election because he considers all elections just processes of picking our slavers for the next four years. That neutrality allows him to infiltrate both political bubbles during this highly charged times and hear what people have to say. It’s meant to make you laugh, but it’s also meant to wake you up and get you asking questions about why Donald Trump won and what is going on in our country that we have formed up in bubbles that have nothing to do with each other. Conor even muses that he sees a potential solution to the divide … not that anyone will listen because he’s not a member of any of the bubbles.

Conor is me on November 9, 2016, wondering why everybody is upset or ecstatic about a deeply flawed candidate winning an election when he was running against an equally deeply-flawed candidate when in reality, we the people were going to be stuck with whatever ludicrous policies either of these two dictators were going to put forward. I wanted to see liberty increase and more power flow to the people rather than government, but that’s not what I got. As I listened to my friends on both sides of the political spectrum freak out, Conor was born as a character who could explain my view of it. Laugh because it’s better than crying, but it’s still a crappy outcome for a great country that keeps, time and time again, selecting bad outcomes.

Parallels are all about finding that passion within ourselves to talk about what is important to us. As writers, we’re supposed to say what others cannot. The parallels in my fantasy are ones I discovered after I wrote them. The parallels in the apocalyptic are cautionary tales suggesting maybe we should try different things. Conor is my critique of the current political landscape. But I made him fun. He doesn’t hate anyone. He’s not angry. His wry (largely internal) comments are not meant to be hurtful. He just sees things from a different perspective because he’s outside of the bubbles … like I am.

 

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