Saturday, 2 June 2012

Dancing with Darwin

There are now three of the Dancing with Darwin stories available, and I am pretty happy with all of them. There are a stack of ideas lined up for more Dancing with Darwin stories, and I'm going to tackle a few more before I take a break and see how they are received. My guess from the reaction so far is that readers will like them well enough.

I had an idea in the back of my mind for a long time; the idea that someone might bring about an apocalyptic event deliberately, with malice aforethought and with reasoning that seemed good to him. Crazy people always have reasons that seem good to them, but that wasn't too relevant to the original idea. It cooked for a couple of years but never really went anywhere. I would pick out scenes and characters and try to form stories and not really feel like it was happening.

This is roughly how the idea was sitting in my mind. A virus, lots of people die, there's an antidote that shows up here and there, some people get it, most don't; later on there are monsters created by the same bad guy.

As you can see, the idea just sits there. It's not terrible but it's... inert. I'd drag the idea out every now and again and play with it. Then I was playing music with a friend and listening to her woes, taking turns to pick out songs... and one of the songs had the lyrics “When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What's Still Around” and one of my unrelated characters (you know, characters you don;t have a story for but want one) stepped forward and waved.

Her name is Dana, though she didn't have name then. She was a vague Greenpeace enthusiast who changes her attitude when survival becomes the primary imperative. I had the vague idea that she would be one thing at the beginning of the story and another thing at the end. That's what makes good stories. Well, Dana isn't really like that. The story of her protecting the Amazon rainforest at the beginning of the story and chopping someone up with a chainsaw at the end popped into my mind – make the best of what's still around. Dana isn't like that either, but my mind was working now and there was a hint of a spark.

The next song was Gnarl's Barkley with Crazy. And there are some lines that triggered further thought: maybe you're crazy, like me – and do you really think you're in control?

And there it was. The crazy bug. Dana fighting her way out of the jungle with crazy people as the antagonists.

Civilization can't continue if everyone is crazy. That's as clear as glass. End. Of. The. World.

And it seemed nicely poetic in a those whom the gods would destroy they first make mad kind of way. And stories kept popping into my head. Every time I looked at how a given individual would handle the world ending this way I got a new story. I spent all the next day scribbling frantic notes because this idea generated sparks and every spark was a new story. I was definitely on to something.

Dancing with Darwin. So far, Rapture Ready, Headed Home, and Evolving Environment. They can be read in any order.

Hope you have fun with them. I know I am.

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