Sunday, July 07, 2019

Every Villain Needs a Hero

Villains drive the story.  Without them our heroes would just walk in and get the treasure.  Or they'd keep their day jobs and never leave the farm, never run off with Obi-Wan, never enter the ADAA Regional Dodgeball Qualifying match, etc. etc.  However, a villain alone cannot complete a story.  You cannot have Yin without Yang.

So I needed a hero.  My heroes in just about all my previous stories were rather serious types.  This time I wanted something different.  I wanted a trickster hero who was part Brer Rabbit and part Punisher.  I wanted someone younger and more of a smart alec.  But I also needed someone driven by something dark and powerful in their past.  I needed someone set on a bloody goal who could not be persuaded to remain on the farm.  I came up with Conradus de Enghien.

Enghien was (and probably still is) a village in the old County of Hainault in what is now Belgium/Luxembourg.  The First Crusade came largely from French lands and Enghien sounded sort of German even though it was sort of French. I wanted a hero who could possibly be multi-cultural with some exposure to a wider world.

Conradus is a name I found in a list of medieval names in that area and at that time.  It's likely a holdover from Latin and it can easily be shortened to Conrad and that's a familiar sound to modern ears and so that was that.  Name and home town from 'reality', everything else from 'imagination.'  He would be young but haunted by a violent past.  He would be quick with a quip or sly comment but ready to go dark and commit murder in the next breath.  The best heroes are the ones where you're not exactly sure what they're going to do next.

The story I envisaged was a personal struggle between Conrad and Baldwin as they each went after the MacGuffin.  Personal struggles make the best heroic conflicts, by the way.  Darth Vader is just a guy making a bad fashion statement until we find out he's Luke's father.  Therefore, Baldwin had to do something bad to Conrad and what better bad thing than to destroy his family.  This was the connection.  This was the powerful darkness in Conrad's past that would inevitably force the two of them together, locked in conflict that can only be resolved by blood.

And that's how you write a good story.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

The Star Shine, The Blood Rains

The very awesome people at Rogue Blades Entertainment have released Crossbones & Crosses which contains my story "The Stars Shine, The Blood Rains."  Everyone should digitally run out and buy a copy as fast as their fingers can fly.

As always, here are the behind the scenes details.  I took up this challenge on short notice and had to figure out if I could even really do it.  Even though I hadn't written in several years, I was at a point in my life where I was thinking about picking it back up.  So when this opportunity came along I was already leaning towards it.

First thing I had to do was find a story.  Since the subject matter was constrained to either pirates or crusaders, that helped provide focus.  Enter Wikipedia.  Choose 'First Crusade'.  Then start hunting around for the people and events that made up that period of history.  Within five minutes I ran across the part where an obscure, unknown monk finds the Holy Lance (the spearhead that the Roman soldier used to pierce the side of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ while He hung on the cross) but under what are politely called 'suspicious circumstances.'

Like a bolt of lightning from on high, I had a MacGuffin.

Next came characters.  The monk who found the Lance was burned alive shortly after the events of my story and he seemed like a weasley sort anyhow so I needed someone else to center the story on.  None of the historical nobles who fought the First Crusade seemed like good candidates but I did run across the tale of how Baldwin II of what is now the Netherlands and Belgium was installed as Count by impolite means and was otherwise generally an ass.

Now I had a villain.

Every villain needs a hero.  And that guy I'll have to tell you about tomorrow.

Friday, March 01, 2019

This is Happening

Okay, it's been a few years since I've written anything for publication.  I got caught up in life, got mobilized and sent to Africa for a year, came back and followed a job to the Midwest.  So then some time passed.

Now I've written a story set in the First Crusade.  It uses the Siege of Antioch as the backdrop for a simple tale of murder, theft, and revenge.  It's going to be published by the good people at Rogue Blades Entertainment at some point in the near future.

Honestly, it was tough to write.  I had lost a lot of muscle memory and getting back into a writing habit was tricky.  But perseverance and inspiration combined at the right times and I came up with something I like quite a bit.  More details will follow shortly.