Friday, August 26, 2011

On the Seventh Book

Ah, Kingsley. Probably the best story ever formed by the mating of two alternative rock songs, an episode of Castle, and the quiet bother of an hour long commute.

Okay, so there were a lot more influences on the story than just that, but those were the main ones. It was one of those fusions of ideas that came together all at once, and I really couldn't argue with the result.

Basically, I came up with the idea for The True Adventures of Hector Kingsley while I was on my way home from work one night. At the time, things were a little bit stressful. I was now working at the emergency room, and at the same time I was starting to volunteer at a research lab in order to stick my toe into the water for that career path. I had discovered that Christmas with the family was not in the cards for this year, and I had already begun my time driving an hour to work and back. On top of that, Em and I had been working opposite schedules for about two and a half months, which was more than a little discouraging. All in all, I was stressed out, working hard and missing my wife.

Also at the time my wife was discovering her interest in steampunk. She had gotten into the genre by buying Leviathan by Scott Westerfield (curse you shiny cover, you were irresistable!). The genre was apparently the spiritual home that she had been looking for, and it was fun to watch her geek out over the various stories and styles she found. I found myself drawn to the genre as well, though for the most part I hadn't thought much about writing it myself.

Cue the Castle episode. It was a normal episode about a murder involving a steampunk club, but it was fun to hear the main character's description of the genre as a whole. It was something to the effect of "steampunk is a combination of the romanticism of Victorian times and the ingenuity of future design", which kind of resonated with me. After all, in those times you didn't need a research grant to do science, you just picked up a snail or something and said "How does this thing work?"

Then came the night that I was driving home, exhausted, and came up with the idea of writing a story in a universe where they had discovered something that brought out the inner side of people. Something that made monsters out of psychopaths and vampires out of addicts. Something that made wheels turn on their own and engines run without obstacle. The idea would only work in a steampunk setting, and the character I came up with to fit it was based on the song I had on in the car at the time. Hector Kingsley, investigator, came to life in all his sarcastic, stuffy glory.

I started writing a little bit at a time in the midnight hours when I got home. Little by little the story developed. A second song gave me Patricia Anderson, aka Mustang, and the story just took off. When I had enough of it down, I sent a bit of it to the writing group and found a pretty positive response. Encouraged by the reaction, I started to write a little bit more, eventually sprinting through the story in March to finish the first draft and taking most of May to do the second. It went from a story I was basically writing to enjoy myself and entertain Em to an actual honest to goodness novel, and is probably the best thing I'd written so far.

So go figure. Life is strange, but sometimes the twists it gives us are really, really good. :) Hope all is going well for you guys, and I will see you later!

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