When I first started pitching my book to various literary agents, the most common question they asked was why is my main character so against unification, the joining of the seven provinces in my story. Like many things in life, I didn’t know the real answer.
The actual story, however, did know it.
I watched a documentary on Netflix called AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY. Ai Weiwei is a Chinese artist who helped design the Bird’s Nest featured in the Beijing Olympics. He uses social media and art to inspire protests against the Chinese government. The thing about China is that freedom of speech is not a basic freedom like it is here. And to inspire any level of protest there would only result in one end.
An interviewer asked him why he’s so fearless compared to other people. His response: I’m so fearful that’s not fearless. I’m more fearful than other people maybe…then because I act more brave because I know the danger’s really there. If you don’t act, the danger becomes stronger.
That hit me like a brick wall that swung through the humid jungles of South China. That’s an absurd sentence, but Weiwei’s answer completely encompasses why my main character fights against totalitarianism than just rolling over and joining an enemy that seemed too strong.
And the actual story, the character, knew this without me consciously having to know. I can see the words, sentences and dialogue where he states this, just not in those exact words. Otherwise I’d know how to answer the question.
Now, I’m not here proclaiming my genius, nor am I proclaiming anything about me. There are two things going on here that I can see. One; stories choose us, the storytellers. Somehow we become the experts to those stories because we were chosen, and two; if we don’t tell it, if we do not follow that path given to us, we will in some way suffer.
We become the experts. What the hell does that mean? That doesn’t mean we as writers don’t need to do the research. We do when needed. We are the experts because somehow in some divine way we were given insights or the true meaning behind the stories we tell. In NIGHTFALL, if a person wanted to read for pure fun without wanting to know anything more than just the superficial stuff—the rollercoaster ride, the adventure—that’s fine. But if that person was curious enough, the hidden meaning behind the whole story and what drives every character in NIGHTFALL could be revealed to him or her, and they may learn something about themselves. In that sense, there are two basic layers to NIGHTFALL. Obviously, I can’t control whether the reader delves deeper or not. It’s their choice, and I wouldn’t want that control anyways.
I do believe, as people, we have gifts that we were given to give to the world. Huh? I do think we were put here for that reason. Every scientist and philosopher is trying to answer that question, and they can’t because the answer is different for every one of us. As far as I can tell at this moment, I was supposed to write the 7th Province series. Others were put here to teach lessons to their children, students, sections of society, the world. But if we don’t follow our paths, then what happens? Suffering. Whether it’s within that person who didn’t follow their path, or the people the gift wasn’t given to, I’m not sure. Something goes missing, then maybe it’ll fall onto another human to give that gift.
I was asked what my main character’s passion was. I didn’t know. For a long time I didn’t know. A few years after completing the first draft of NIGHTFALL, I figured it out. And the amazing thing was it was in the writing. I just didn’t see it.
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