Unless dust bunnies are self-aware and feeling inspired, art is not created in a vacuum. Though I take pride in coming up with original ideas, I also must acknowledge that the things which I’ve enjoyed or learned from have a part to play in the things I create. Example: I would’ve never written In the Shadow of Extinction had I never seen a Godzilla movie before.
Today I mean to show some love to the primary influences for The Greater Evil and how they helped shape my book into what it is.
Picking up about a year after the finale of Death’s Good Intentions, The Greater Evil tells the story of the Antichrist sitting in a position of power in the American government. Most the public believes him to be a hero, while a small resistance group who knows the awful truth strikes out at him from the shadows. Though all my books are political on some level, The Greater Evil is my most expressly political work. It’s a book with monsters and madmen – my favorite ingredients for fiction – but it’s also a book about how evil, disguising itself as law & order, can twist our world into a dystopia to the tune of roaring applause.
I’ve always been fascinated by the French Resistance fighters. The idea of a country changing what it stands for and turning on its people is a frightening concept. That some brave French fought back is inspiring. I love the Jean-Pierre Melville film Army of Shadows, which tells a story about this particular subject. I’ve watched the film many times and continue to take inspiration from it. How the ends justify the means… until they don’t… and how the most threatening thing to the Resistance were its own members cracking under pressure and turning on their friends. It’s a masterpiece. I took some inspiration from Army of Shadows both in terms of how a welcoming city became a scary place and how a group of people fought from the shadows at powers far bigger than them.
My introduction to dark fantasy probably began with reading the Hellblazer comics. Even now, Hellblazer remains a favorite comic of mine, and I return to it often. In addition to Hellblazer’s John Constantine, I’m also fond of Hellboy. Constantine and Hellboy are some of the most unlikely of heroes you’re ever gonna find – Constantine is a rogue magician and an asshole while Hellboy is a demon who was born to end the world in some fashion. And despite their dark pasts and uncertain destinies, they’re exactly who you’d want in a fight against a horde of the damned. Death’s Good Intentions hero Trey Decarr, the man also known as Death, was born out of this idea. He’s more of a jokester than Constantine and more human than Hellboy, but the inspiration is there. Decarr has been chosen to be Death, the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse, but he turns against that destiny and chooses to do his own thing. I think Hellboy and the Hellblazer could relate.
John Carpenter remains a major influence on all my work. Escape from New York, which turned Manhattan into a maximum security prison, was a film I watched more than once while writing this book. The idea of taking an American city that we celebrate and turning it into an 80’s freakshow is very cool. And while I never turn any US city into a crazy prison in The Greater Evil, I found inspiration in the idea of wanted men and women navigating a hostile America with the walls closing in.
Also Mortal Kombat. Yeah, what? I like video games and Mortal Kombat is an old favorite. Fun fact: a good portion of the first half of The Greater Evil was the backbone for a Mortal Kombat screenplay that popped into my head one day. And I knew that writing a screenplay adaptation I had no rights to write made no sense, so I repurposed some of the story for my Death’s Good Intentions sequel. And it worked because, like Mortal Kombat, The Greater Evil is a dark fantasy full of powered individuals fighting an end of the world sort of conflict. The most obvious hint of the original concept in The Greater Evil is that the evil sorcerer Vasco learns a new spell for shapeshifting. Like Shang Tsung? Yes, like Shang Tsung.
The Greater Evil also shares some… unsettling similarities to the things we’re seeing in the news today. I’ll talk more about that in the coming days. But for now, let me just say this: Trump was not an influence on this book. The great majority of The Greater Evil was written before the 2016 election year. I didn’t base my characters on any real life figures and the fight I fictionalize was not meant to resemble the fight we find ourselves in today. The novel accidentally has something to say about 2017. That wasn’t intentional. It just sort of turned out that way.
This time next week, The Greater Evil will be available for your ebook doodads that Star Trek totally told us would be a thing someday. It should also be available in paperback on the same day, but there’s a chance that it might take an extra 24-48 hours.
Please consider pre-ordering it at your favorite online bookseller!
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of books and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
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