The creation of The SubVersion Complex and the world it inhabits has been one of the most intensive, fun, infuriating, and inspiring projects I've ever worked on so far. While the next two books in the trilogy are already proving to be a far more monumental task in scope and emotional scale (I am writing them both at the same time for the sake of consistency), the first still astounds me by the simple fact that a year ago it didn't even exist, and now it does. It's humbling.
So I figured I would give back a little bit here, take a break from writing the second book and share a little about the process of writing the first. I found myself intrigued by the process, and I hope you do too. Call it a "behind-the-scenes" look. Or whatever, you get the idea. So here goes, a list of interesting tidbits about various aspects of the creation of the book.
(1) If you read the Acknowledgments section of the book, you'll notice that I credited the band Nero for indirectly providing the inspiration for the novel. It was a very weird inspirational moment. I had just finished writing and editing a short comedic novel and was bored thinking of what else I might write. So I began trolling the music videos on YouTube, and Nero's "Must Be the Feeling" popped up. I like Nero and I began to watch. The video was heavily dystopian/police-state in content, involving a car being chased by a robotic cop on a motorcycle. As the protagonists are chased at top speed through an unidentified city at night, a glowing billboard warns that the driver and passenger in the car are wanted by the government for "subversion," among other things. In a strange moment of word association, I distinctly remember pausing the video, opening my word processor up and typing down "The Subversion Matrix." That sounded too much like "The Matrix." So I typed beneath that "The Subversion Complex." And a title was born, with no story attached to it. I had no clue what a "Subversion Complex" was, but I was excited to discover what it meant.
(2) In my original treatment, the black box is not occupied by the little girl, but by the man Daniel Marcus himself, and the entire story revolved around Anna "meeting" him through the interface and finally breaking him free out of compassion.
(3) I wrote three separate openings to the book as tests, one of them even experimenting with first person. The first person opening went nowhere, thankfully.
(4) Practically every bit of "tech" in the book already exists in real life right now, in one form or another. The book is partly a true story in this regard. This includes the giant incinerator inside the Complex that Miriam is thrown into. That scene is based on a medical waste processing plant in the United States that incinerates the dismembered bodies of aborted children. Other tech that already exists includes the self-driving cars, the idea of the quantum computer, the lab-created babies, animal/human DNA mixing, robotic military vehicles, population control measures with drugs, the "aural dosing" sessions, even the reactive computer to a very limited degree.
(5) Real events in the news both inspired my writing with ideas for scenes, as well as flogged me to continue. Every time I put the book away and decided I was done writing for a time, something horrible or frustrating in the news would pop up to compel me to continue, and I thank God and/or my angel for providing those moments.
(6) Practically all of the names in the book have significance, whether intentionally on my part or discovered fortuitously later:
Mr. Vickers is a British name that I liked, but it also worked beautifully as a play on the word "vicar." Appropriate, since he is a priest.
Another name of significance is Daniel Marcus, who is obliquely named after former SEAL team member Marcus Luttrell of Lone Survivor fame. Besides being a good rugged name for a good rugged man, it provided a sort of homage to a particularly courageous real-life soldier.
Sonya was another name I chose with purpose, it being the Russian version of the Greek name Sophia, which means "wisdom." The name is an irony of sorts, as she is loaded up with knowledge via computer, but the inputting of that knowledge shows lack of wisdom on the part of the scientists controlling her.
Both the names Annalise and Miriam I chose because I liked them, only to discover later that they both meant very significant things for their respective owners. As Daniel tells Anna at the kitchen table in the book, her name means "full of grace." An irony of sorts at first, as Anna is about the least grace-filled woman at the beginning of her story. And Miriam was a spectacularly appropriate choice made by accident, a name meaning "sea of sorrow."
(7) The entire book was written without an outline. Whether for the better or the worse, that's how I do things. The book pretty much existed in my head, and just needed coaxing out onto the computer.
(8) Anna's friend Meghan, who joins Anna for coffee near the beginning of the book, is named after the singer Meghan Trainor of "All About That Bass" fame. Knowing that I can't stand Meghan Trainor will probably make the choice of name obvious.
And those are 8 tidbits about The SubVersion Complex that you may not have known. Now you do!