We are edging closer to Enslaved's release and I couldn't be more excited. To celebrate such a momentous occasion in my life, I thought I'd share with you all how Enslaved came to be.
I love all things Roman. A few years ago, I undertook the obligatory Europe trip (obligatory if you are Australian – all us kids go on over to the motherland sometime after university. In England, I enjoyed immensely my time in Bath, spending hours walking through he remnants of the Roman Baths and their accoutrement. I loved Hadrian's Wall, the fact you could stumble over pieces of the Roman Empire around any corner, the legacy of the nation's dominance. In Italy, I was fascinated by the Colosseum, the Forum, Palatine Hill, the Pantheon...Pompeii was just awesome, with such well preserved ruins, almost complete in parts.
And then there was Spartacus: Blood and Sand and it's prequel Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. Oh my word, I love this show with a passion that is holy and just. I'd enjoyed Rome, the HBO series, and thought the movie Gladiator was ok (meh, director Ridley Scott) but Spartacus...Oh, Spartacus.
At the beginning of the series, it seemed to be another empty-headed action himbo show with all the depth of a puddle. Still, it had pretty boys not wearing much, and really, really graphic violence. I shrugged and thought, hey, there are pretty boys! Plus, the showrunner was Steven S. DeKnight, who learned at the alter of Joss Whedon and so I kept watching...and then, oh Lord, then it got good. Really, really good. I should have trusted in Steven. He couldn't have spent all that time on Joss Whedon's writing staff without learning...and he learned. Oh my wordy, did he learn.
Passion, betrayal, politics, deception, heroes, heroines, villains, gladiators, half-naked boys and jeopardy...oh, so much jeopardy. No punches were pulled, no pain unexplored, no crap not dealt to the characters. It was glorious. And through this glory, through the twists and turns and amazing story-telling, I couldn't help but think...What if....
What if the lanista (the owner of the gladiator training school) had a daughter? What if she was forced into the company of the rebellious slave? What if they fell in love? As I watched the show, scenarios raced through my mind, such that one day I sat down and Enslaved flowed from me in a torrent. It was amazing. I'd never had such a thing happen before (and haven't since – damn it!). Three days, and I had the bones of a story which, very soon, will be published for your enjoyment!
So, Enslaved was born out of one of my “what if” sessions and this got me thinking – we as writers do this constantly. What if? What if the Mongol Empire never fractured (Meljean Brooks Iron Seas books? What if a cop in a futuristic New York fought crime and encountered an Irish ex-criminal billionaire (Nora Robert's In Death books? What if the blonde girl in the horror film was actually the a**-kicking hero (Buffy, the Vampire Slayer ? All of this came about because someone asked, What if?
This phrase is the backbone of any idea. What if this person was paired with this one? What if a dyed in the wool conversationalist had to work with a card-carrying developmentist (Real word. Promise) What if some people went off on a mad adventure through time and space, and one of them wore a bowtie because bowties are cool...(hmm, think I’m looking forward to the new series of Doctor Who and it’s bled through a little there – sorry about that!).
Another version of ‘what if’ is re-writing already created stories. Constantly I re-write things in my head. If I don't like the direction a story is going, I think of a way where I would like it to go. If I love a story, I may think of a way to re-imagine it, or insert some element to make it betterer (Again, real word. Totes). This constant ''what if” defines us as writers – it's what we do.
Has anyone experienced this? Do you ask “what if” when you watch a TV show or a movie? Do you imagine whole stories in your head out of a single small change? Would love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks for sharing your time with me – and, remember, check out Enslaved! I think it’s super nifty (not that I’m biased or anything).