On Wednesday I talked about how the concept of The Agora Files (which is still on sale for just 99 cents!) was based on the very simple premise of a dude running from something.
Obviously, as I began piecing the story together, I had to flesh some things out, like who the dude was and who he was running from.
Before long, I realized that another story concept I had long held, about a hapless individual finding himself the center of a revolution, would end up playing a big role in the actual story being told.
But that did very little toward actually developing what the tale would become. It just gave me another small piece of the overall puzzle. That this guy was running and it had something to do with overthrowing a government.
Of course, I had just recently read The Hunger Games at this point and realized that the genre of dystopian novels would be where this tale would end up fitting, not to mention that I still had the concept of this character being a Han Solo-type and what’s more dystopian than Star Wars, right?
But I wanted to base this story in a sense of truth. Where my first book was focused solely on the fantasy of superheroics, I wanted this one to feel like it could really happen. So I took a look at the country of today (well, technically the country of 5 years ago) and tried to see how it could become the evil empire of so many of these dystopian tales.
As you might imagine, it wasn’t too hard to visualize. But I needed to determine a moment in America’s history where we could really pinpoint that shift in politics to being something a whole heckuva lot more oppressive than the one we actually have today. Events like the September 11th attacks immediately came to mind, but then I thought about the bombings of August 6th and 9th, 1945 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
It is my opinion that there is no greater example of the United States flexing its muscles than those two days in history.
And had we not realized the devastating effects of the decisions that led to those two attacks, it would easily have been a terrible turning point in our nations history where our government realized nothing could stop it, not even the American people.
(Obviously, some debate could be had regarding whether or not this is what occurred, especially looking at how our country has run since that day)
So, I had my moment in which the country deviated from our timeline and the timeline of The Agora Files, but that just meant I had to fill in so many details. Nearly seventy years of details, to be more precise.
And I did. I went through and looked at how a government run by someone like Emperor Palpatine might take things from that moment, where he would use the system against itself until finally the system controlled everything.
And following that guideline, I found a rather interesting development. I found that although this world may look a lot different than our own, that it might still not look all that incredibly much different. That people might not even be aware of how they were being oppressed. That so much of the country would have just become accustomed to the changes because of how they would occur on such a small scale, that without even considering it, they would find themselves inside this 1984-esque setting, and be completely cool with it because of the narrative they were fed which got them there.
I spent a great deal of time developing this history and the methods in which this history developed…but then there was a big issue that came into play. This story was not one about exposition. It was about running.
Having this book be completely dedicated to the concept of high adrenaline adventure meant that my ability to get out this information in a way which wouldn’t slow down the story would be nearly impossible.
Which is why Cyrus (the protagonist, for those of you who haven’t read the book yet) was the perfect person to have sitting in the middle of all this. He was uninvolved and disinterested. But when he got stuck in the middle of things, he felt like he had the right to know certain pieces of the puzzle.
But he still didn’t care that much.
Which meant that The Agora Files was able to stick to a fairly high level detail on the subject of how the world got here, while still feeling very real and focused in our actual world.
Of course, this is also why one of the main comments coming back from readers after reading the first book is, “How the heck did things get this way?”
Because they want to know more. And that makes me incredibly happy. To know that this world feels real, but still feels wrong. Still feels like it needs those answers to ensure our own world doesn’t wind up there.
Which is why The Agora Files – Part II is so much fun, because it gets to really dig into those details on a wholly different level, while throwing much of what you think you learn in Part I on its head.
And…spoiler alert…you can probably feel confident that Part III will do it to you all over again.
Have fun out there!