Step one was determining who my characters were, which also meant determining when they lived.
I wanted them to be readily identifiable to my target audience (i.e., North American readers). I have no problems re historical fiction, but I wanted my readers to feel familiar with my characters’ background so I could focus more tightly on the challenge of survival.
It’s awfully hard to lose a bunch of school kids in the 21st century.
They will be missed, somebody will come looking for them.
In Lord Of The Flies, William Golding handled the issue by integrating it into the core of his story: Though never stated explicitly, the world his boys inhabit is engulfed in a great apocalyptic war. The insane evil of nuclear brinksmanship was reflected in the deterioration of his characters’ civilized behavior.
Exploring the morality of nuclear war was not my intent; I wanted a story focused on survival, not conflict.
(Besides, it’s one thing to crib
the idea of kids shipwrecked on an island;
lots of books, movies, and comics have done that.
Using those kids as a metaphor for the collapse of
modern civilization is exclusively Golding’s idea.)
I briefly toyed with the idea of a great natural or astronomical disaster but quickly passed on that; I couldn’t see how the story could not be about the disaster instead of the desert island fantasy.
I use “fantasy” advisedly. There’s no magic in Savage Angels, everything is within the realm of the possible. But the idea of the desert island as a new Eden, as a place to begin again, to somehow Get It Right This Time holds a fascinating allure to writers and readers.
Then I wondered, what am I thinking about when I say “contemporary”?
(to be continued)
I could backtrack a long ways to get to “the” origin of SAVAGE ANGELS, but let’s set our marker down here:
SERENITY started life as a monthly magazine concept; each issue would have a 45-page Serenity story, a couple of short stand alone stories, and an ongoing serial.
HITS & MISSES was supposed to be the first of those serials, Savage Angels was to be a follow-up.
Well, things changed. Magazine publishing plunged into the toilet just as I started looking for partners so, finding no takers for a monthly mag, I went the original gn route.
…but that’s another story for another time.
Savage Angels came about during a long idea generating period where I was trying to come up with as many ideas as I could for the tween-to-teen / YA market (Angels is just the tip of the iceberg; wait till you see what we have on deck!).
I’ve always enjoyed shipwrecked-on-a-desert-island stories. As a child, my grandmother and aunt gave me a wonderful slipcover edition of Swiss Family Robinson; I still have that book even though I almost read it to shreds while growing up.
And of course there’s the great-granddaddy of them all, Robinson Crusoe.
And even Gilligan’s Island.
And, probably most importantly re the origin of Savage Angels, Lord Of The Flies.
William Golding’s book is a harrowing tale of young boys stranded on an island descending into naked feral savagery. It’s a kill-or-be-killed tale, and it does not offer a comforting view of humanity.
So I wondered, would the story have been any different if it was a group of girls, not boys?
…and the gears started turning.
(to be continued)
Coming soon from Snokie
Preliminary art by Drigz Abrot (not final)
Savage Angels (c) Buzz Dixon & Snokie
So what did you get for Christmas?
Yikes, what happened?
I breathed, that’s what happened.
I came in late from work and mom got ticked off.
Just a few minutes.
Well, maybe an hour. Okay, two hours.
But I had to work late and I didn’t want to wait an hour
for my bus so I decided to take a short cut.
Didn’t you call, let her know why you’d be late?
…er…Angry Birds eats up a lotta juice.
Still, two hours. Weren’t you cold?
I had my parka. ‘Sides, the wind gets blocked by…
Never mind. Skip it.
Where were you?
None of your business!
Geeze, what were you doing? Getting baked?
Hey, I’m clean and sober and I’ve got
the gosh-darn urine tests to prove it?
Meeting somebody? …Serenity?
Were you meeting somebody?
I was talking to somebody.
I thought your phone was dead.
It was. I wasn’t using my phone.
You met somebody?
Oooooooh! Anybody I know?
You say you know him.
Okay, don’t tell a soul about this…
Oh, wow! Have you been hooking up with somebody?
I’ve been praying.
Yeah, and I’m Lady Gaga on weekends. Spill!
I am spilling. This…this ain’t easy for me.
You know I’m still kinda new to this stuff.
You have a great tendency to make up for lost time.
Where were you “praying”?
Hey, if you’re not gonna believe me then go take a flying –
Okay, okay, chill. …so…where were you?
I kinda found this place not far from where I live.
You know where those trees are?
You went there at night?!?!?
I’d be scared to go there in the daytime!
It’s not so bad. Anyway, I found a place where
you can’t see any buildings, can’t hear any traffic…
Oh, great. This week on CSI: The Serenity Harper Case.
Shut up! It’s not like that. It’s…nice.
Quiet. Gives me a chance to think.
Okay, now I know I’m trippin’. Did you just say “think”?
Yeah, I know. Freaks me out, too.
So anyhoo, I go there when I’ve got
stuff on my mind, stuff that’s bugging me.
What kinda stuff? Derek stuff?
Sometimes…but not as often as you think…
…at least, not recently. Nah, mostly I’ve been thinking
about the past, about how stupid I’ve acted.
Yeah, tell me about it. But ya wanna know what’s scarier?
I’m starting to think about the future, about how I don’t wanna
act stupid again…only I’m afraid I don’t know how not to.
Hey, we all feel like that. Anybody who isn’t afraid they’ll screw up
is too dumb to know they’ve already screwed up.
That woulda been me a few months back. Thanx.
Hey, you’re getting better!
I dunno. Anyway, I went out to this spot
where I like to think and pray and, I dunno,
just lost track of time. I got to talking to God
and wondering if there would be any answer
and they I realized just how calm and quiet
and peaceful everything was…
Never mind. Go on.
So anyhoo, it kinda finally sunk in on me that maybe this was my answer:
Not to worry, just have faith and let everything be.
And I started feeling rilly happy, like maybe this
is gonna be the year I turned everything around.
And I went home and I was feeling rilly good…
…but mom was there and she was p.o.ed to the max
and she said she got worried sick and where was I
and she wanted to smell my breath to see
if I had been partying and I told her
to go have fun with herself –
I did — but wait, it gets better:
She told me to go have fun with myself
and we yelled some more and then we went
to our rooms and we slammed our doors
and neither of us came out until noon.
And things have been kinda tense since then.
New Year’s I thought I’d make up peace offering, stay home with her –
Yeah, we missed you.
I missed you, too. But mom made other plans
and didn’t tell me and she didn’t come home until 3 a.m.
and when she did, she was baked.
What did you say? What did you do?
What could I do? I’m not her mom, she’s supposed to be mine!
But…I kinda got to thinking about all the crappy ways I’d treated her,
how I made her worry…made her sick with worry…geeze,
ya see what I mean about thinking’ over how stupid I’ve been?
So what now?
I dunno what now. Maybe…maybe that’s what
I was supposed to have figured out in the woods,
to just be at peace and let everything happen.
That’s all I can do.
Back here, Serenity.
Wow! This place looks so…so…empty!
I’m cleaning it out for the new year.
Had a lot of distractions over the last several months.
Decided to just clean decks and move forward.
Does that mean more stories about me?
Hey, now, I’ve been working on two upcoming YA books.
You’ll be seeing a lot more about them this year, too.
What about the rest of my crew? Derek?
Still on deck. Ditto Sally, Lori, Eddie, Tim, Kimberly –
She loves you, too, Serenity.
We gonna be doing any fun stuff?
Sure will. I’m picking up your story where vol. 10 of
the graphic novels left off, with summer break just about to begin.
Cool! Say, remember that skiing accident I had in vol. 3 where
I broke my leg and was confined to bed for most of vol. 4?
Could you arrange for something similar to happen to Kimberly this summer?
Okay, okay, don’t get so grouchy!
Relax, you’re going to have plenty of time and
plenty of opportunities to interact with Derek.
Un-huh. Uh, when you say “interact” –
I mean “interact”.
Don’t get ahead of yourself, Serenity.
Everything will unfold as it should.
That’s easy for you to say — you know what’s in store for me!
True, but I get the same questions about my future that you do. I know God knows what is before me, and that if I have faith in Him everything will work out, but there are times when I don’t see how it can possibly work out, or even if I’m on the right path. Those are the times when we have to rely more on our faith, even though our doubts work against us.
Huh? Oh, sorry. Your dialog was too long so I didn’t read it.
Thanx for the reminder. I’ll try to keep it brief from now on.
So, we’re done here?
For today. See you again real soon, Serenity.
C-ya / C-ren