Sunday, January 04, 2015

"Get your own mother."

 Wherein Jack wrote a story

 Over the month of June two of my friends and myself had a Camp NaNo. We thought June was the official month and didn't find out until a week into it that it is July. Because we were having so much fun with our books we decided we would continue writing and be one month off. 

 I have already posted about the plot. My WWII story about two German boys who are best friends and have their friendship tested because one is a Jew and the other becomes a Nazi. 

 I never talked about where the story came from however. Since coming to the decision that the book will be released sometime in 2015 I thought it might be time to give a little background history on where it came from.

 I have had ideas for this book for about ten years, ever since I read a WWII story called While Mortals Sleep. The story is about a pastor living in Germany at the time of the war and the work he does to save four boys who are part of the Hitler's Youth, and later babies which are being killed because they aren't what Hitler views as perfect. Never before in hearing of WWII had I heard of Germans fighting against Hitler and not for him. The idea that there was more going on in Germany at the time of the war stuck with me and an idea for a series of books festered around in the back of my mind.

 I never really planned to write the books. The original idea was to have a series, each book taking place during a different time and place of the war. I would have one book about an American solder, another of a spy in France, one of a Hollander who helped Jews escape, and so on. The idea that stood out above the others though was the one which would take place in Germany. At the time the story wasn't about two friends, in fact it had no plot, other than it being set in Germany and me knowing it would be the hardest of the books to write.

 And that is why I never wrote it. For years I kept it at bay because I knew it would not be an easy book to write. WWII itself was a painful time in history and I couldn't imagine trying to tell a story which took place during it. The treatment of the Jews always staggered me and when I studied it briefly in history I wanted to cry. Writing about a Jew would be far from easy.

 But the idea refused to go away, even though I did my best to ignore it. Years later I began writing Steampunk and decided I would stick with that, not even bothering with Historical Fiction. Then I got so busy writing and publishing the idea slipped even further away.

 I don't really know what brought it back to the surface in June. My friend Phil probably had a lot to do with it, as she is my history buddy and we can spend hours talking about history. Us bringing up WWII and the idea resurfacing is very likely. (Considering she was watching Band of Brothers at the time.)

 Whatever sparked it, the idea came back before Camp NaNo and I tossed it around in my mind. I had other books I could work on during the month and wasn't sure I should drop them for a new idea - even if it had been around for about ten years. For a few weeks I kept the idea to myself as it finally grew into a workable plot, the one of Japhet being a Jew and his best friend later becoming a Nazi. I wondered if I could write something like that and questions and doubts took races in my mind. How would the story be resolved? How could a Jew and a Nazi save their friendship? How could I possibly write something that would be so painful?

 This kept going round and round and I didn't dare tell Phil the idea because I KNEW what she would say. The moment I mentioned WWII she'd insist I write the book and then I'd be stuck. I argued with myself, told myself I had too much work already, and had some long debates. Then one day the idea won out and a week or so before June I mentioned it to Phil.

 The conversation went as I knew it would. The moment I WWII was out of my mouth she demanded I write it. I agreed, after - I think - I told her she had to keep me writing even when I was crying in the corner.

 Of course, the book went as expected. I researched torture, concentration camps, Nazis, and all kinds of other things that could have gotten me arrested if my computer had been confiscated. I got my hands on all kinds of WWII stories and did my best to make the book believable as I wove in ideas which would have once been split into the WWII series. (It's unlikely the series will ever come into existence. If this book was this hard to write I don't think I can ever do another.)

 And, of course, I cried through the whole thing. Page one to the end, then I cried while doing an editing job on it in July. I have never cried so much while writing a story before.

 There were times I almost shoved the story in a folder and gave it up, but my two NaNo buddies wouldn't let me. (If this book ever amounts to anything it will be as much because of them as me.)

 The end result was a 600 page novel, 110,000 something words, and a sobbing Author in the corner. After July I locked the book up and took a long break. I planned on hiding the book from the world for a few years until I could mount up the courage to edit it.

 That didn't work out.

 Word got out about it. I mentioned some of it on my blog, my NaNo buddies helped in spreading the news, and then I let my Reading Buddy get his hands on it. After that, I somehow came to decide it couldn't be put off for a few years.

 And that is why it has been sent out to beta readers. And why I have begun editing it again, and crying over it again.

 And basically, that is how Brothers-in-Arms came to be. I'm not sure how to end this post. Other than...I have lots planned for this coming year. I will be talking more about this book and the characters. I might even hold some character interviews, if that interests anyone.

 For now, I'm in the middle of planning everything and working on dates. You know, all that non fun stuff that goes along with being an Author.

 So, Good bye

 I shamelessly stole the quote from my friend Phil's book, because I've been getting warm fuzzy feelings from it all day. (Can't tell you the name of the book since it isn't out yet. But since she is my buddy, I get the honor of reading early snippets from it. Be envious, it is amazing.)



  1. This was so interesting to read! I love hearing how stories come to be. Your book sounds like it'll make me cry...but I really, really, really want to read it. You should definitely do character interviews!


  3. Yay! Brothers-in-Arms! I'm excited!

    I don't know who it was but somebody once said something to the effect of, "No tears from the author, then no tears from the reader."

    I think the hard stories are the best stories. They are the ones the world needs to hear the most.

  4. Sounds like this will be a great story! Especially if you, as the author, are shedding tears over it. Plus, I love stories about enduring friendships <3

  5. I love your Brothers-In-Arms board on Pinterest. I'm looking forward to reading it.

  6. This is one book I will buy as soon as it comes out. Bravo to you for allowing the story to come through. The story I am writing was equally painful for me, so I know of what you speak.


  8. Interesting! I always love learning where the ideas of stories come from. (And 110,000 words! That's amazing!)

  9. I am so proud of you for writing BIA. I can't imagine writing something that hard. Michael was hard. I can't think of something like Japhet. just FYI Japhet is a REALLY fun character to act out.

    I am so glad you actually did this. You did brilliantly. It deserves ALL the rewards.

  10. Such a wonderful idea for a story. I'm a sucker for tales set in WWI and WWII. I also took a class in university all about the German resistance (i.e. citizens that resisted from within). I should go back and read some of the texts for that class...

  11. No wonder it's getting published. Brothers in Arms sounds wonderful, Jack. It also happens to be one of my favourite DS songs. It's going to be a big hit. Happy IWSG day. I'm #63 on the list.

  12. I actually had an idea for a story like this a month or so ago. Thank you for writing it for me! :)
    After going to the Holocaust museum a few days ago, I got the idea for an alternate history novel about if the Nazis actually invaded the US like we thought they would. The main character would be physically disabled, I think, and his little brother would probably be mentally disabled. He would have a sister, too...Still not sure on the details, and it won't be written for some time, but it would probably be a painful book. A lot of people would probably die.


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