To be fair, the events leading up to the story of Crossing Bedlam isn’t as severe as seen above. It’s only the United States that gets hit and I’m even iffy on calling this post-apocalyptic since the rest of the world is fine. Still that’s the closest category or genre I can use besides Rated-R, action, buddy comedy adventure. Don’t think Amazon has a list for that.
Now a little background on what the ‘Shattered States’ are and this is all that is known in the books too. The rest of the world got fed up with the United States for some reason and decided to put it in a timeout. Walls on the northern and southern borders are heavily armed to prevent escapees. A global fleet patrols the waters to recapture or kill anyone who tries to escape. Your fate depends on which member of the fleet you run into. Some time after the blockade was put up, Washington DC got nuked and that ended the Federal Government. It’s been a decade since that happened and the remaining locals are doing what they can to survive. Various cultures have appeared around the nation with some coming right out of fiction. Trade has taken over actual currency in every place, except Nevada. Due to still having resources, foreign businesses still make deals with local traders and use special passes to exchange necessities. Even with all of this, the place is a mess and most people do what they can to survive.
The ‘Shattered States’ wasn’t always like this. The idea actually came about long ago as something entirely different. I wanted to keep the same area origin, but focus on a group who were trying to reunite the country. The leader was ruthless, but the POV character was his second-in-command. She was a mercenary with more compassion than her leader and the freedom to make big decisions. I guess she is similar to Cassidy, but only in gender and toughness. There was a large cast of characters taken from all across the country with specialties and stories. Every state had dangers, primary uses, and resources for trade. I spent a week looking up what each place was known for and how that would survive the collapse. The stories were even plotted out.
Then I realized I was going too political with the story and got bored. The notebook remained in the middle of the pile and the back of my mind. I still liked the idea of having the broken world, but not that story. Then I watched Mad Max: Fury Road . . . and nothing changed. For a year, ‘The Shattered States’ was a dead tale that would fade away into my personal obscurity. So, what happened?
Seriously, I’ve got no idea how this came about. I was on the exercise bike and I started thinking of a story where a woman traversed a dangerous landscape. She was a good person who teamed up with a bunch of criminals, so there was an aspect of her falling to their level. The longer I thought about it, the more the other characters fell out of the story and only two remained. I still wrote up an outline with all of them, but quickly noticed that I barely touched on the others. In fact, I seemed to only focus on their death while the other two had meat to them. The woman had turned into a survivor type in my mind and I really wanted to pair her off with a psychotic, unpredictable maniac. So Cassidy and Lloyd Tenay appeared with no quest or world to call their own. Coming up with her wanting to bring her mother’s ashes somewhere was easy, but I still didn’t have a location.
It was the character’s apathy and not caring about how their world fell apart that brought me back to ‘The Shattered States’ notebook. Everything I needed for a foundation was already written. The politics I didn’t have the mind and patience for weren’t necessary with these two. Why would a serial killer and survivor give a thought to events that were bigger than them? Neither felt like they could save the world or even that it was worth saving. It wasn’t that type of story any more and I really got into coming up with wild adventures along Interstate 80.
The series became entirely about Rated-R fun and ‘The Shattered States’ certainly exploded under this idea. There is a level of wackiness to the violence and adventure along with moments of seriousness. It all kind of fell together along with other pieces that reveal a bit more of the world as your read along. As far as the original idea, that is probably dead in the water. That group might be operating somewhere, but Lloyd and Cassidy might never meet them. If they do then I don’t see them joining up or even getting involved unless supplies are offered. Lloyd might be running out of graphic t-shirts by that point and Cassidy is always looking for new guns or CD’s to stop her companion from singing. The crazy bastard can’t carry a tune at all.