Monday, January 19, 2015

Behind the Scenes



I approved the paperback proof of The Lies of the Sage today, but it will take a few days before Amazon has it available for sale. In the meantime, here is some background information. Feel free to read before hand, but I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy it more if you read the books first. I’ll try not to give any spoilers away.

A few real life events shaped this story. When I was young, a friend of mine lost her son to an illness. That always stayed with me, especially when both of my children spent their first few months in neonatal ICUs. (I have to state here that Alyanna’s character does NOT resemble her in any way, shape, or form - or anyone else I know, for that matter.) We also, for a brief while, owned a golden retriever named Bananas.

Over ten years ago, this book began as a short story, which took on many different forms as it progressed. Alyanna, in media res, was on the run with her son. She was being chased by a group of mysterious figures (possibly inspired by the men in black trench-coats from Dark City.) Their leader was Sigma, whose manner resembled The Lead Cenobite (Pinhead, to use the vernacular) from Hellraiser. At one point, the entire story took place in a city housed inside one giant tower.

The problem was, while I had the concept, I didn’t know what to do with it. The plot centered on Alyanna escaping with Matthew. But why did her mysterious cybernetic pursuers care so much? While the story was expanding, it wasn’t really moving in a concise direction. I found myself in a rut. I fleshed out a detailed back-story for the antagonists. To mix things up, I changed Sigma’s gender to female. Suddenly, she had an entire different set of motivations. This pushed the story in a new direction, and helped it move forward.

My son was about five or six at the time. While I’ve tried my best, I have to admit that I have been, at times, far from a perfect parent. Some of those flaws came out in Alyanna. Stephen King once said that (in his novel Firestarter) Charlie wasn’t based on his daughter, but his daughter had helped Charlie be herself. In the same way, Matthew is not based on my son, but he definitely helped me see life through Matthew’s eyes.

It made sense to me that the Cylebs would naturally think in metric terms, while everyone else sticks to the imperial measurement system.

I hate bugs.

Alyanna’s house computer was named Isis ever since the beginning. I thought of changing it after recent events, but I decided it wasn’t really necessary. Her car’s computer definitely owes a nod to Douglas Adams’s overly-helpful computer Eddie, but I do feel that electronics in general are becoming user-friendly to the point of annoyance.

When I was young, I had to see a child psychologist. When I joined the army many years later, I had to get a letter from the doctor explaining why. The letter stated that growing up, I had had the mind of an adult inside of a child’s body, and had had a hard time dealing with it. Also, having been prematurely gray since I was a teenager, people often have thought I’m older than my actual age. Hell, when I was forty, a girl at Dunkin Doughnuts gave me a senior discount.

“God Save the West” is based on the unofficial Confederate anthem, “God Save the South.”

My father and I often play pinochle. The joke he always tells when playing was a line from the Cosby Show: “No matter how dumb the dealer looks, always cut the cards.” When diamonds are played, he sings “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” Obviously, both of these had to be changed for copyright reasons.

As I wrote the book over the years, it expanded to about 350 pages. After I released False Idols and Other Short Stories, I began polishing the novel to publishable standards.  When I had reached the cliffhanger at the end of the second act, the first 2/3 had expanded to about 320 pages (81k words,) and still had a hundred pages to go. This would have added another year of editing. There is another novel I’ve been working on over the years with similar themes. I decided to make that novel into the sequel, and end Lies on a “to be continued.”

Well, that’s it for now, I’ll add more if I think of anything I missed. I hope everyone enjoys it. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

TTFN
-Tony

P.S. Something I just remembered. I took a picture of Bananas, and instead of having red-eye (this was back in the '80s, kids) she had glowing blue eyes from the flash. I once had a nightmare about her having eyes like that.

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