One of the things I promised you guys was insight as to how I come up with these stories, ideas for these stories and how I determine the length of how long the serials will run. Consider this (really long) post my delivery on that promise.
First of all: how long to I determine a serial will run? Simple answer: I don’t. The story goes on as long as the story goes on. When I run out of story, it stops. I wish I could be more technical than that but I just can’t. I would find it extremely constraining to say that the next Dillon serial would run twelve chapters and that’s it. But then when I get to Chapter Three or Chapter Six and there’s a character or plot twist I want to explore and/or expand upon I allow myself the freedom to do so and I just trust that you trust me enough to go along with where I’m going and that the story will end up in a satisfactory resolution.
Take DILLON AND THE CITY OF STONE co-written by myself and Erik Fromme. I had absolutely no idea where that story was going to go once Dillon, Abelinda and Guillermo descended into the gaping hole in the Earth that would eventually take them to Yuatlacohuaca. But it was a helluva lot of fun finding out. And judging by the feedback I’ve gotten, you had a fun time as well.
But I do like to have a new serial in mind and planned out so that there will only be a gap of maybe a month or two between when one Dillon serial ends and the new one begins. I figure that the current serial; DILLON AND THE PROPHECY OF FIRE will wind up around September so it’s not too soon to start planning the next one. You know how fast time flies. But here’s the problem: I didn’t have anything planned.
Let’s jump back a couple of years. Remember when the SyFy Channel was doing all those weird monster movies with outlandish creatures fighting each other? Like “Dinocroc Vs. Supergator”? “Piranaconda Vs. Frankenfish”? “MegaPhython Vs. OctoShark”? Don’t front. You know you watched them. And if I can fess up to watching them, you can. Anyway, I’m watching one of these movies one night with my wife and as I often do, I say; “I could write a better movie than that” And Patricia responded as she always does; “So why don’t you?”
And so I did plan on doing one. I even had a title for it; “Flying Great White Shark Vs. Albino Amphibian White Tiger.” But outside of jotting down notes and characters sketches, I never got past the planning stages. One thing I did know that I wanted to have in the story was a mad scientist. And I wanted him to be black. I absolutely love mad scientists and since there were no great black mad scientists in popular fiction, I decided to create one in the grand tradition of Dr. Frankenstein (Peter Cushing version, natch) and Dr. Fu Manchu. I would model his physical appearance, demeanor and voice on the Great, Great Man, William Marshall and in further tribute, name my mad scientist Dr. William Mamuwalde (students, fans and scholars of Blaxploitation will know where the Mamuwalde name comes from) Clear so far? Okay. We move on.
The idea for “Flying Great White Shark Vs. Albino Amphibian White Tiger” stayed in my notebooks and subconscious for an obscenely long time, lemme tell you. The concept of Dr. Mamuwalde was one that wouldn’t go away and in my development of the character he gained a son who was a master of over 1000 Martial Arts (he’s a homage to Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu in case you hadn’t guessed) and a nagging,shrewish, alcoholic wife always scheming behind her husband’s back to sell his inventions on the black market simply because the idea of a mad scientist with a nagging wife tickled the hell outta me.
But still, I just could not find the right story for Dr. Mamuwalde to make his debut. The problem was I was not happy with none of the protagonists for the story I had in mind. None of them were formidable enough to present a challenge to the character I conceived and I definitely wanted to have Dr. Mamuwalde to have a worthy challenge to his intellect and his talents. I knew I wanted to have a film crew stumble upon his island (in homage/tribute to 1933’s “King Kong”) but the characters that presented themselves to me didn’t turn my crank. They weren’t alive. They weren’t vital.
Until I happened to re-read “Dillon and The Bad Ass Belt Buckle.” One of the major characters in the story is Jenise Casile, an actress who has won an Academy Award and when Dillon meets her is in the middle of filming an epic science fiction trilogy directed by the eccentric director/producer Rigoberto Orr. Dillon and his partner Eli Creed have been hired to rescue Jenise from kidnappers and that’s all I’ll tell you about the story. You wanna know more, go read it.
Anyway, switches clicked in my brain and I realized that I could marry Jenise, Rigoberto and their current film project with my Dr. Mamuwalde character. In addition, by throwing Dillon in the mix I could satisfy my desire to have Dr. Mamuwalde go up against a foe worthy of him. And what better way for a character in my universe to make his debut by going toe-to-toe with Dillon?
There’s some other things thrown into the mix of the story such as Dr. Mamuwalde experimenting with African Cryptids which came out of when I had planned on doing “The Island of Dr. Mamuwalde” as an “Island of Dr. Moreau” homage for the “Cryptid Clash” project my good buddy Josh Reynolds is associated with and briefly talked me into it. And yes…that most definitely is a whole other story.
But once I got Dr. Mamuwalde, Dillon, Jenise and Rigoberto and the whole idea of Dillon rescuing a film crew from a war zone where they were trying to shoot authentic footage and then finding themselves the captives in a “Dr. Moreau” like situation in my brain…everything just sorta fell into place. Which is my long winded way of telling you that once DILLON AND THE PROPHECY OF FIRE is finished, expect DILLON AND THE ISLAND OF DR. MAMUWALDE.
And come back next month and I’ll tell you how Joel Jenkins without even meaning to gave me the idea/plot for the sequel to DILLON AND THE PIRATES OF XONIRA….