Writing bad guys can be difficult, at least I find it so. I can’t believe in bad guys who are totally bad and have no redeeming qualities.
The bad guys in the novel I’m writing right now – Bright Darkness – are preppers, people who’ve been preparing for SHTF (shit hits the fan) and TEOTWAWKI (the end of the word as we know it). Very relevant for the story as it’s set after a pandemic, probably H2N1 that has mutated to be easily transmittable between humans. With our current travel proclivity, the way folks move around the world every day, this would happen on an exponential scale. According to my research within two years there would be barely a quarter of our current world population … that’s a drop from 7.5 billion to under 2 billion. Can you imagine how that would be? That’s my job in writing this this book.
But although the book is dystopian I’m not writing it from a doom-and-gloom perspective. In the story there are basically two varieties of people who’ve survived. The majority are those who have a worldview that includes all life, not just humans, and has the nous to integrate themselves into that way of being. As I don’t want to do a spoiler I’m not going into more details about them, at least not yet. This lot are in the majority.
The other lot are preppers who have survived the flu-plague but their heads are still in the same sort of funk that got the world to that state in the first place. They want to “go back”, to have everything get back to normal: i.e. money economy, hierarchical rule, big business, being rich, that sort of thing. Yes :-), I am a socialist at heart. They’re also preppers in the manner of those whose garages are stuffed full of canned food, guns, disinfectant, and other such stuff that most people currently think are essential to life. You can tell, I’m sure, that I don’t have a terribly high opinion of such people. To me, they’re “all the gear and no idea” in a lot of cases. I know some preppers, a couple of them very well; while they do know how to shoot and have guns they also know how to make river water potable without chemicals.
My preppers, the baddies in the story, need to be of the noddy lot with the garages but they will remain two-dimensional as long as they have no good side. I’m working on that and am beginning to get a handle on it. Their leader has appeared and is making herself known to me – yes, her, her name is Adela. It turns out she was best friend to the heroine of the story when they were at school together. Being friends with the heroine, Anny, did funny things to Adela’s mind. Anny is steeped in practical magic as well as wood-lore; if you’ve read Owl Woman you’ll have met her as a baby near the end when she gets her naming in the waterfall so Bright Darkness is a sequel to Owl Woman but the characters are just about all new as it’s near thirty-odd years down the line.
Adela fell in love with Anny at school but couldn’t bear to follow her into the magic she offered her friend. Trying to get Anny to change was like asking Everest to move, Adela failed miserably and felt betrayed and abandoned as a result. When she learns that Anny survived the flu-plague she comes to try again … this time with guns.
You know, just writing this blog has helped move the story and Adela along a couple of jumps. In fact I need to leave off here and go write some more :-).