A recurring subject that I keep coming back to in the Wingnuts is a question that I (and most
writers) frequently get asked: Where do I get the ideas for my stories?
Here we are again. Please allow me to explain the gestation of this story.
One of the aspects of writing that I never could have predicted ahead of time is how it affects the
rest of your life. Once you begin writing fiction, you begin paying attention to the world around
you with a new set of senses. Sights, sounds, smells, objects, things people say, all take on new
meaning ... or mutate into alien creatures and objects. I do not dare speak for every writer, but I
am confident that most encounter at least some version of the phenomenon. When I began
writing, my brain cells began operating in a new manner. I began paying attention to my
surroundings in a way that I had never had in the past. Everything from how a person walks to
overheard conversations become fodder for future stories.
Reading is a good way to pick up new ideas. Living life is better. One is second hand; the other is
your own interpretation and creativity at work. It is one thing to immerse yourself in someone
else's universe. It is another experience entirely to walk down a street on a blustery autumn day,
hear dried frozen leaves making a peculiar rattling noise as they blow along a concrete sidewalk,
and suddenly know that it is the same sound that harmless ten-legged alien spiders make as they
scuttle along lightless tunnels beneath the surface of a distant planet. That is the sort of moment
that gives a story depth, texture, and complexity.
Different people deal with this process in different ways. Some individuals write notes. Others
take pictures to provide reminders. Some writers jot down entire descriptions and passages, so
they won't forget what they saw or heard. In my case, my brain becomes the ultimate junk heap.
I stash all sorts of crap in there, and when I need something for a story, what comes tumbling out
is frequently a matter of chance and gravity rather than a conscious selection. When I need an
item, I walk up to the heap, give it a kick to dislodge some piece on the bottom, and wait to see
what comes clattering down.
That is what happened with Malefactor. I knew that I wanted to write something more lighthearted
than Make Believe. It is a great story. I like it. But you have to admit, it is gloomy. Make
Believe is an angst and heartache kind of story. I was yearning to write something a bit more light-
hearted. I was not looking for comedy, just something fun.
Enter the junk pile.
I was plugging away on some revisions to Make Believe, letting my mind wander a bit because I
knew that one particular passage had to be changed and I did not want to rewrite it, when a
memory tumbled down and hit me on the head.
Voila!! A new story. Yup, sometimes it happens just like that. Those are the ones that are fun
I cannot take full credit for Malefactor. The critical bit comes from a conversation I had with a
friend at the Farscape Convention in November 2011. I do not want to explain what we were
talking about because I believe it will ruin the story. I think you will know it when you read it.
The important thing is that what my friend said that afternoon was hilarious. It was spontaneous
and creative, and it was both insightful and revealing. It was everything that I love about
Scapers. Best of all, it was downright 'Crichtonistic'. It was exactly the kind of stuff that would
come pouring out of John if he was engaged in a rather lame attempt to explain some bit of
bizarre or reprehensible behavior.
I have made some adjustments to the dialogue, and I expanded on what my friend was describing
so it is about three times as long as the original description.
I hope you enjoy it. The original was a truly unique conversation, and we all know the value of
unique. I cherish the memory.