Sunday, May 3, 2015

Starting Early

Behind the Story of Compromised Inside (Part 1)

Warning:  this post contains spoilers for the first 3 Slowpocalypse stories, and I recommend reading those novels first.  Also be warned that this shows the ‘sausage-making’ aspect of writing the book, which some of you may not want to know about.

I began developing the idea for book 3 as I was beginning book 2.  Of course there were character arcs and plot threads belonging to the overall series that I knew I’d want to continue from wherever Threat Multiplication left off – Kat and Tony’s relationship, David’s path to becoming a hero, and the struggle of the FURC community against the gradual breakdown of society, for a start.  But book 3 would need its own main story.  What would it be about?

Even before I began actually writing book 2, it was clear its story would deal with the big remaining threats to the FURC from outside sources, and that by the end the compound would finally be fairly secure from external attack.  So it made sense that the next big menace to the community would come from within, and it was easy to see what one aspect of that would be.  Their perilous situation had created tensions, and resentments had been simmering from the start.  As the pressure from outside eased, the community’s internal problems would begin to boil as people looked inward at their own strained circumstances.  Then the question became – what would bring things to a head?

Before I found an answer to that, early on in Threat Multiplication, with the poisoning of the guards, I met a minor character, the epidemiologist Dr. Amita Harker.  I found her interesting, and she was clearly interested in David, and I knew I needed to bring her back in a bigger role.  Throw in the fact that I love a good epidemic story, and it was obvious that Compromised Inside would have a virus sweeping the compound in addition to the growing unrest among the populace.  That would also expand the story beyond Security and the way they would deal with trouble.  It would also give me something to do with David.

Then, as I continued to write Threat Multiplication, Brandon Radley destroyed the compound’s wheat stores, and the administration covered it up, and I realized what the precipitating event for civil unrest in the community would be.  When the news of what had happened in book 2 got out, it would inflame the already increasing tensions into real protests.  That also brought into focus one of the bigger issues the FURC faced – the lack of democracy.  They didn’t have any of the regular organs of government, but now that they were completely on their own, they would have to create them.  They would do that by expanding and altering the way things were already set up.

So I had Kat and Tony (and the rest of security) having to deal with the resulting outbreaks of violence (and those two also having to deal with their feelings for each other) and David and Dr. Harker trying to contain an outbreak.  And now I also had the FURC’s first election and Caroline as a major player to complicate the picture.  Several good stories, but I still needed to find a way to bring them together.
Next:  Part 2 – Different Pieces of One Puzzle

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