John W. Howell asked:
“I would like to know the inspiration for the Bedlam series. I know your fantasy world was inspired by your gaming so what inspired bedlam?”
Crossing Bedlam is fairly new compared to all my other ideas. It’s a totally different genre, atmosphere, and mentality too. The funny thing is that it’s been slowly piecing itself together over the last few years. It didn’t stem from gaming, movies, books, or television. At least not exactly.
One of the biggest influences is my own growing cynicism. I’m not always the biggest fan of humanity in general. We do horrible things to each other for some of the most ridiculous reasons. So I had that mentality along with seeing a lot of people questioning the United States getting involved in so much overseas. This part of the post borders on political and I’m betting many have heard the arguments, so I hope I don’t have to go much further than this. The idea that the United States was pushing its luck with the rest of the world is what birthed the Shattered States. Well, one theory since I’ve left it open to the reader to decide on the real cause. Originally, it was the rest of the world teaming up to isolate the USA, but now it’s hinted that it could be external, internal, aliens, fake, and a few other possibilities.
Now, the first version of this series was nothing like Crossing Bedlam. Back in 2014, the Shattered States were called the Broken States and the story focused on a group that was going to reunite the country under their beliefs. The ringleader was gathering experts from all fields and had a ruthless streak. It was going to be a long, short story style book that I lost interest in. The characters didn’t really grab me by the time I finished designing them and the chapters. Some were too stereotypical and others were around solely for one scene that I thought would be cool. It was just a collection of fun scenes that I couldn’t piece together. So I scrapped it.
Jump to early 2015 when I’m on my exercise bike and letting my mind wander. I was between projects and I got the idea of having a group of people traverse a horrible landscape. Most of them were criminals, but they were following a young woman who wanted to do good. A few minutes later, I thought up Cassidy and decided she would go across this landscape to toss her mom’s ashes off a bridge. Soon after that, I remembered the Broken States and changed it to the Shattered States. Chose a few of the more memorable characters from the failed one to escort her too. Then I sat down to come up with ideas . . . and scrapped it for half a week.
The newest problem was that I didn’t like the group dynamic and the serial killer kept stealing the show. It took some thinking before I accepted that I had a duet instead of an ensemble on my hands. Lloyd Tenay took his name from a failed superhero character and joined Cassidy on their adventures. My cynicism began riding high around this time for some reason, so I came up with another aspect of the story:
“It doesn’t matter what happened to the United States.”
This is something that a few readers didn’t like. They wanted answers as to what happened or for Cassidy and Lloyd to make the world a better place. I’d normally agree, but they aren’t the types. I found myself writing them as characters who were rather selfish in that they only wanted to survive. The world could go to hell in a ball of flame, but they wouldn’t care unless it threatened to take them with it. They’re survivors instead of noble heroes, which makes it difficult and kind of out of character to have them do anything other them live to fight another day.
Everything else came about through research. I checked a route on Google maps and would pick towns that caught my eye. If I found anything cool on their Wikipedia page or some fun fact about them then they stayed. This is why Chasing Bedlam has a town that is all about peanuts and Crossing Bedlam had a gang that revolved around the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame. Unlike Legends of Windemere, I took blips of inspiration as I went along instead of getting it in one shot. This is probably why it has a short story, episodic feel too.