There’s an old joke about writers. “You should write a book you like, because you are going to have to read it about 20 times.” There is some truth in that. As an author, you need to craft a story for an audience. That doesn’t mean that you give them what they want to expect, but you have to understand your reader’s demographic. In the case of Blue Dawn, it is a conservative political thriller – so my audience is people with conservative leanings.
You also have to be prepared to read your story over and over again. It wouldn’t do to write a novel that you didn’t enjoy reading yourself. Trust me, the editing process is one of long hours, self-reflection, accepting critique of your work, and staying true to your ideals. The adage that everyone has a novel in them may or may not be true – but I assure you, not everyone can endure the editing process.
Warning – you are about to enter a spoiler-zone, so bail if you haven’t read the novel yet.
So what are the story elements I enjoyed the most?
The Sons of Liberty (The SOL)
The original Sons of Liberty were provocateurs, protesters, and trouble makers for the British crown in the United States. They were responsible for the Boston Tea Party. As a historian, I wanted that connection to our past in Blue Dawn.
It didn’t feel right to just have them exist. So in the context of the novel, they arose out of the ashes of the Fall/Liberation – only to get squashed by the Newmerican government. This made them the underdog immediately. When they were reborn, they were wiser, craftier, and even more potent of a force for liberty…at least that is how I portray them in the novel. As I move into the third novel of the series (which is being written right now), we will see a grittier side to the SOL.
The Time Hops in the Story
One thing I am doing with all of the Blue Dawn books thus far is giving readers a glimpse into past events with characters, that reflect on who they are at the time of the book. With Charli, for example, we eventually see the fate of the President she was protecting. For Jack, we learn more about why he is the way he is. These time hops can be jarring for a reader, but in the end, I think, they provide some real depth to the character that might otherwise just be explained in rather bland text.
Blowing up Big Tech
There is a trinity that props up Newmerica. Politicians, the mainstream media, and Big Tech. It is an unholy alliance as I portray it. In the novel, this allows the fall of the legitimate government to the progressives. Negating Big Tech in the novel requires the destruction of Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s HQ’s. I toyed with a lot of technological ways to take down these companies, but those solutions were dull. This, after all, is a most uncivil war being waged. So I resorted to good old-fashioned explosions in the novel. This is not about the buildings, but about the people. The technology cannot be maintained and managed without human control and once those employees that survive are filled with fear, they will be hesitant in operating the technology that aids the government. Terrorist attack? Yes. Far-fetched? Let’s hope so. Realistic? Yes.
Someone sent me a message saying, “We would never destroy Mt. Rushmore.” I don’t believe that for a moment. We have had over a year of statues being destroyed, dismantled, and cast aside. Nothing is sacred right now. I thought including Mt. Rushmore, both on the cover of the novel and in the story was important. The Hall of Records behind Lincoln’s head is a real thing. I wanted the characters there, at a real place, something that everyone would recognize.
The Takeover of the Studio
The takeover of the TV studio was a strange joy to write. I love the line about, “You have guns…you’re terrorists.” “Guns don’t kill, I kill.” I like this 2A positioning in the novel. I also liked the “Shit, this kid just pissed himself.” For me, that was a touch of realism that makes the scene a little more authentic.
“God Bless America”
At the end, when the NSF trooper lets the heroes go free with “God bless America,” it is significant. One it is a patriotic moment (guilty as charged!) Second, it shows that not everyone in the Newmerica government is an ardent follower. We live in a world where few things are black and white. Many things are gray. The same applies to the characters, even the small bit ones.
That simple line conveys hope.