Where Did the Shattered States Come From?

Cover art by Jon Hunsinger

Cover art by Jon Hunsinger

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.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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44 Responses to Where Did the Shattered States Come From?

  1. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Charles Yallowitz with the background to his latest Bedlam Series.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. noelleg44 says:

    Very cool idea for a book with certainly some modern parallels.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Episodic isn’t all bad. I think readers should be aware of it though. You might want to check out Kristen Lamb today for differing opinions. I think it can work, and even work well. My baseball stories will be that way (fingers crossed for the results). Not every character has to save the world either. Ichabod falls in that category, but there are a few things about his family that make me cheer for him. In my twisted mind, I relate Cassidy & Lloyd to the DC character Lobo. Lobo has fans, so it’s all possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. L. Marie says:

    That was a good question! I enjoyed reading your response. Characters have to be who they are, not what others want them to be. Cassidy and Lloyd are trying to deal with the world as it is.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for the answer, Charles. I enjoyed Crossing bedlam and am looking forward to Chasing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Enjoyed this background information: the beginning of the beginning and the birthing process. Awesome. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting k but without a solid history, anything could be around the corner… maybe they are in a virtual reality world, or maybe they are figments of a coma victim’s dreams.
    No matter what the truth is, it’s a very interesting idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    • True, but I guess one has to wonder if the truth ever needs to come out. Do we really know how the world of Mad Max came to be? Not really, but the stories are still enjoyable. This is part of the reason that I pay attention to scope when it comes to Cassidy and Lloyd. There are probably people out there searching for the answers, but these two aren’t it. Doesn’t mean I won’t play with the idea a few times.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Tina Frisco says:

    This should be recommended reading for Donald Trump. At the very least, you’d get some free publicity when he tweets about it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. #1 – Hello! (finally) I’ve been meaning to check you out for a while now. I keep seeing your gravitar attached to comments on posts I have been reading as well. (It’s that time and distraction combo that seems to gang me aglee.)

    #2 – I was fascinated reading about your birthing process, and how you develop an idea – allowing your characters to wander as they will. I don’t write fiction, so the details of this process really captured my attention. Thanks for sharing.

    The hints about your take on current politics let me know we were likely kindred spirits – that and NY (spent 20 years in Manhattan and miss it like a lover). I, too, was happy to leave Fla. – not to escape the alligators, but because it was too flat and the climate didn’t bode well for someone as heat-defensive as I. I’ll be back.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”


    • PS. Jumped over from Sally’s reblog (Smorgasbord)


    • 1- Hi. Nice to meet you. 🙂

      2- Glad you enjoyed the post. The characters really do wander for all my stories, which makes things entertaining on my end. I’m curious how it works for non-fiction. Always thought you would need a lot of research and being careful since facts need to be clear.

      3- Oddly enough, Florida had the better weather for my wife who gets bronchitis very easily. We just couldn’t stay down there after some personal stuff and had to move back to family before things got really bad. Was always surprised how many ‘trapped’ New Yorkers are down there. 🙂

      Funny thing with the current political climate and the Shattered States is that I didn’t intend for that. It wasn’t this bad when I created the world, but now it seems to be heading in a similar direction. Kind of scary.

      Liked by 1 person

      • RE: 2- Hopefully, non-fiction writers do a great deal of reading and research and don’t just cherry-pick, presenting opinion as fact! Skimming through a few of the books in the ADD/ADHD field, the area where I have the most depth of experience/expertise, I sometimes wonder.

        A sampling are just plain sloppy or out of date practically before they were printed – and some are simply out of date but still in print. But a few are practically “Trumpet-like” in their incendiary titles and long-ago countered “facts” – edited and read by those who don’t seem to know how to fact check ::sigh:: [getting down from her soapbox now]

        3 – My Far Rockaway buddy, whose mother became a Florida transplant, calls it “Little New York” – more Kosher delis per capita than Manhattan! (My Dad retired there too, but he wouldn’t have known a bagel from a donut!) 🙂

        Current political climate – yikes! More than “kind of” scary, IMHO – the implications are actually terrifying. I’ve been beating back anxiety since a certain night in November.

        Bodes well for “Shattered,” however.


      • I wonder if some of the non-fiction books try to go off opinion and, as you stated, cherry-picking. For some people it’s about getting on a soapbox and yelling about a topic instead of teaching the facts. Maybe they see other people getting rich off falsehoods and try to do the same.

        I remember seeing a lot of ‘New York Style Pizza’ places and they never reached the same level. No dinners down there, which is weird for a Long Islander. The political climate is definitely a worry. Florida was always a little ‘off’ to me. Not surprised it got more heated since that night.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yep – follow the money!

        NY style Pizza – lol – NY style *crust* maybe (vs. Chicago style). But I don’t even eat pizza anymore – awful stuff (and I used to have at least a slice a week when I wandered the streets – and more when I actually went to a Pizza Place – ALL better than what I’ve found since moving away!)

        With the senior “transplants,” Florida’s demographics must make it a tough state to legislate! (and the voting fiasco – let’s not even go there)


  10. Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
    Charles Yallowitz shares some fascinating background information for his Crossing Bedlam series


  11. I have a town named Bedlam in some of my WIPS that I plan to return to in the future. It’s full of some interesting characters. Yours sounds like a good read, will put it on my TBR pile that consistently grows, lol.


  12. Pingback: Charles Yallowitz -Where Did the Shattered States Come From? | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

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