Monday, August 13, 2012

"Rift Jump" Commentary (Part Five)

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

Here we are at the end of our commentary for Rift Jump. Thanks for tuning in. And don't forget--we're running a Goodreads giveaway! Enter for your chance to win a signed copy of the book, yo!


At last, our hero must face his destiny.

The Strange Man from The Coming Evil Trilogy

This is where our villain, the Maestro, makes his debut. To me, the Maestro has always been a pawn. The Rage is the real enemy. It was difficult writing the Maestro as I wanted to make him very different from the Strange Man (pictured left). Whereas the Strange Man is all about theatrics and delighting in the sound of his own voice, I wanted to make the Maestro completely unimpressed with everything. He's a composer of pain and very serious about his work. Unflappable.

The biggest surprise in this episode is the change we see in Sara. She's kicking some major tail up 'n here! Sara was always meant to evolve into a very tough fighter, but, honestly, I was going to save that for the second (and perhaps final) book in the Rift Jump sequence. But I wanted to give readers a little taste of what they can expect from Sara in the follow-up novel.

So what about this follow-up novel anyway? Tentatively the book is entitled Sara's Song. Whereas Rift Jump was more focused on Michael's internal bout with the Rage, its sequel will be Sara-centric. The entire story is about the pair of them, so it made sense to me that each one got their own book. Together, the two halves make a whole and their story will be complete.

The idea of the multiverse is explained in this section, as Michael comes face to face with Truth. Fellow Splashdown author Travis Perry wrote a very insightful essay on the nature of Chaos equaling the loss of choice. Great stuff.

Michael also faces his inner demon in this section--in this case, a giant sludge monster with his face. Again, like I talked about last week, this totally snuck up on me as a sort of an echo of the junkyard fight scene from Superman III. Also, with this fight, we now begin to see a stronger connection to The Coming Evil Trilogy. Yes, the black goop that Michael  hacks up in this section is the same evil slime that takes over Ray McCormick in Enemies of the Cross. It's sin, in its purest, most concentrated form. Sin creates monsters. It latched on to Ray and drove him mad, and it dwelt inside Michael for his whole life, pushing him towards violence.

In this section, we also meet Toby, who was originally based on my little brother, Jeff. There's a nine year age difference between my brother and I, but we've always been very close. We like most of the same movies, music, TV, books, video games, etc. A fact about my brother is that Jeff is a video game freak. He has been since he was two years old when I taught him to hold a Nintendo controller. He was cracking the Konami code--on his own--before he could write his own name. He's like that movie "The Wizard", without the autism. Seriously, he was six or seven and I'd take him to arcades with me and watch him wax the floor with guys twice his age on Street Fighter or Tekken. He was--and still is--that good. So, the original Toby--who was named, rather obviously, Jeff--was a pint-sized fighter. The original high school draft of this particular story featured "Jeff" as this eight-year-old street fighter, a kind of living embodiment of Jeff's gaming skills. It was pretty embarrassing, looking back, so I obviously took out the "eight year old street fighter" out of the current version, but I tried to give the character--re-branded "Toby"--a fighter's spirit. We'll see more of that fighter in the sequel, whenever I get around to writing it.

The real-life Jeff is, in a way, also the one to praise (or blame, depending on how you liked the book) for Rift Jump coming to your grubby hands. As I've said, the original Rift Jump stories were just things I wrote once every couple years or so to blow off some creative steam. I never took it very seriously at all. There came a point that I'd all but forgotten about it. It was just a funny little high school memory. But my brother is a writer, as well. For years he's been developing his own contemporary dark fantasy series. A mega-epic that spans generations and chronicles the struggles of good versus evil across, quite ironically, the multiverse. Jeff began writing his multiverse stories totally apart from me or mine. Like I said, we think a lot alike, and his daydreams eventually led him to parallel worlds as well--though in a different direction. When I discovered this, I told him "Hey, I wrote a multiverse story too, once upon a time." I told him about my old Rift Jump stories and told him he should totally have our characters meet. I thought it'd be a hoot. So, a couple years ago, he did just that, resurrecting my old characters and breathing new life into them. As I suspected, it was a riot. Jeff has a keen sense of ridiculous humor and he took my melodramatic characters and, essentially, lampooned them. It was such a thrill seeing my characters in a new light.

But it also got me thinking. Jeff's new take on my characters awakened something in me. I began to question how I would interpret these characters after all this time. I had grown up, and these were a child's characters. How could I take what they were, but put an adult spin on them? After that, my imagination took off. I started writing Rift Jump stories in earnest. Still for fun, and still with no desire to see them published. But it was a wild ride, and I turned out, maybe, 10 new stories in just a couple years. It just kept coming. The more I wrote, the more invested I got in my creations. The more serious they became to me. And, before long, I realized that I was writing a real story. One that I wanted to put out there, on the market, for others to enjoy.

Jeff's own story has gone through many drafts as he's experiencing a similar process with his own stories. He began writing them when he was 12 or so, but as he's grown into his own man, he's revising his stories. Re-crafting them. I've helped a little, but I've also backed off a lot. I think he's got some GREAT ideas and a real sense of drama and excitement. I know how his story ends and it's amazing. I can't wait to see him finish it and then the real adventure begins for him: publishing :p

Thus concludes our commentary for Rift Jump. Thanks for hanging around. I encourage all of you to go out and pick up a copy of the book. We've gone the small press route this time around and it is super hard to get your name out there. So, please, support the book. If nothing else, post and re-post. Let the world know that we're here with a wild ride through alternate timelines and alien worlds! If you're still shaky on whether or not this book is your cup of tea, I invite you to check out this nice (and totally unexpected) review by Jessica Thomas!

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