There are very few phenomena within the rules of nature that interest me more than Cause & Effect. Some call it the Butterfly Effect; others refer to it as dropping a pebble in the middle of a pond. However you want to term it, it sometimes seems to be an ever present force both in reality and in story telling. And most intriguing (and sometimes frightening) is the fact that it’s a never-ending chain reaction. The Cause & Effect chain is how a story gets from the Opening Incident to the Resolution. One author who really showed the ever-lasting power of Cause & Effect was Tolkein. I’ve heard some fans argue about whether or not the true hero of Middle Earth was in fact Samwise Gamgee, and not Frodo because of his courage and loyalty. I like to argue that the true hero was Bilbo Baggins. If you think about it, through Cause & Effect, had he not shown pity on the creature Gollumn, and killed him when he had the chance, the one ring never would have been destroyed 60 years (or 3 novels) later. “The pity of Bilbo Baggins may rule the fate of men,” Gandalf had mentioned.
It never ceases to amaze me how Cause & Effect can lead to almost anything! And this is actually how I got the idea to write my series, The Keepers of White. It all started with a song…
Going to give you the unlikely background of it all. In the fall of 2010, I had totaled my car in an accident, so through the insurance company, I had a rental for a few days. Now for many years, I’ve had my I-pod hooked up to my car so I can listen to my playlist, and nowadays I use my car’s Bluetooth capabilities to play Pandora from my phone when I get bored with my playlist. The point is, I don’t listen to the regular FM radio anymore. Haven’t in a long time (how many of us do these days, I wonder). Anyway, so I forgot to bring my I-pod into the rental car on my way to work, and the rental didn’t have Bluetooth, so for the first time in I-don’t-know-how-long, I just turned on the radio. I didn’t tune to any particular station (I don’t even know what the station frequencies are in my town); I hit the power button just to have some kind of music playing while I drove to work.
The first song to play was “Black Magic Woman” by Santana. Or it could’ve been the Fleetwood Mac version, I don’t exactly remember because I’m not a huge follower of either group. And I’ve heard the song before, but never actually listened to it. Never really GOT into it. But you know how sometimes, when you’ve got a long commute to work, and you drive the same 45-minute drive, day in and day out, after this becomes routine, you start to drive on auto-pilot and let your mind wander. And you know how, when you hear the same songs over and over, like on a playlist, eventually you tune them out as well, and they just mix into the background. Well, “Black Magic Woman” is not a regular song on my playlist, so after too much redundancy in my routine drive, it was like listening to the song for the first time. The ride was the same, so I tuned out the world, but not the song…
In the wandering that my mind did that day, at some point during the song, I suddenly created the character from my series, Diana Palmer. I didn’t actually come up with the name that day, just the character. I thought of a woman with dark hair, bright green eyes, long smooth legs, fair, soft skin… a woman so beautiful and seductive, that none could resist her charms, but also so ruthlessly wicked and evil, that whomever fell into her enchanting snare, if lucky enough to survive, would still be left completely broken and ruined by the time she’d finish with him.
It grew from there. I’m one who believes in having balance in stories, especially horror stories. If there is an entity that is incredibly powerful on a supernatural level, and terribly evil, then there should be another entity that is equally powerful, but also good-natured. Hence, following the creation of the villainous Diana Palmer in my head, I imagined one who could resist her. A man who was already so broken and tormented by the pain of his past, that the “black magic woman’s” spells and charms were no match for this man’s rage and need for revenge. Two major characters born in my mind. All before Santana’s (Or Fleetwood Mac’s) song ended.
***QUICK NOTE: In Agents of Shadow, the first book in the series, I’ll admit that you will read very little of Diana Palmer, and even less of the vengeful man. But I assure you, by the end of the second book, The Paladin’s Message, which will hopefully be released by mid-summer 2017, you will see just how vile and frightening Diana can be, and you will learn more of the mysterious man as well.***
From there the story grew. I’ve come up with many ideas for stories in the past, but eventually dismissed them as I looked back and thought them to be ridiculous. This was the first time that the idea stuck with me, even haunted me. And most importantly, it continued to expand in my mind. I filled an old binder I wasn’t using with a large stack of loose-leaf paper and started jotting down notes about the whole world evolving in my brain, usually during my planning period or my lunch break, using the same red pen I used to grade my students’ essays. It didn’t take long before I ran out of sheets of loose-leaf (and ink in my red pen). Never had I been so feverish to get a story typed up, and once the school year ended and I was on summer break, I opened up the laptop and went to town. Still the story grew… it still grows in my head as I type this. I’m currently writing Book IV with Books II and III finished and currently being formatted for print. I’ve still a long way to go before I get to the series’s end. And this is my free time now, more than five years later. And it all happened because of a song, because of a lack of I-pod, because of a rental car, because of a car accident.
Cause & Effect: the most subtly powerful force in the universe.