My friends jokingly and affectionately call this novel «the leaflet» because it’s «only» 88 000 words. My stories are usually approximately twice that or more.
This doesn’t need to be any longer than it is, though. I knew it would be fairly short before I began writing it. When I wrote the final chapter first it was always Chapter 12. Everything, every scene, every event or detail fit well into the others. It needs neither more nor less.
There are a few more additions I didn’t include, that I ultimately felt was unnecessary. They’re here, though, on these electronic pages, adding spice to the story.
The story is a riddle, a mystery of sorts, the only one I’ll ever write that will even approach a detective story, a crime novel. Like all of my stuff it’s a hybrid, everything and nothing of the above. But a mystery, a puzzle to be solved, somewhat. So I needed to leave clues for readers to ponder, but not be too obvious about it. I wanted to give people a change to solve the riddle before the end, but not making it too easy on them. Based on the talks I’ve had with people that have read the book, I believe I have succeeded. Most of them didn’t find out the startling truth until Jeremy Zahn himself did.
This is the first book I wrote completely on a computer, without having written any of it before on my old, derelict typewriter.
There’s no longer a Hotel Schirman in Amsterdam or a Plaza Cinema in London, among other places described in the novel. Which is perfectly fine with me. I can describe in detail what used to be real places in a present tense, without giving them free advertising.
London, Amsterdam, Los Angeles and places are described like they were around the turn of the millennium, when I wrote the novel.
As usual, there are many sources of inspiration, even some surprising ones, among them Bruce Willis and Hollywood in general, in a backwards kind of way. You’ll understand why…
Without revealing too much or anything, really: If I had made Die Hard, the cop hiding inside a building full of «terrorists» would have been killed early in the film.
After I watched that film in 1988 the process began in earnest, I believe. Other movies after that with the usual, beyond silly Hollywood bent pushed it further along. Other movies before had helped a lot, too.
The ending of Under Siege 2 would have been quite different, of course, and Casey Ryback (Stephen Seagal) would have been dead in the first movie.
In River Wild with Meryl Streep the murderer would have slaughtered the family quite easily and moved on to other victims.
Stuff like that.
River Wild and Under Siege 2 really clinched it for me, I think. After an ongoing and persistent and increasingly LOUD buzz in my head, I started on the novel two years after I had left the theater with foam on my lips.
Obvious sources of backwards inspiration also include lukewarm environmentalists, non-violence advocates and all those police programs and crime stories on TV and in books…
But first and foremost, like many of my stories it’s a tale of empowerment and freedom, about people breaking free of all shackles, all confines, about winds of change running wild and great.
I'm happy to report that it’s vastly different from The Defenseless, like most of my books are different from each other.
Sometimes I fear I could have written an entire book about my writing of the leaflet…
If you look at the material I’ve put on the Internet already it’s obviously true.