About The Prodigal Band Trilogy: The Theme-Good Triumphs over Evil

I began writing a book that would eventually work its way into three books that make up the Prodigal Band Trilogy–Battle of the Band, The Prophesied Band, and The Prodigal Band–back in the late 1960s in diary form as the characters morphed from just a group of guys in a gang or a clique, with or without girlfriends, living on Long Island-then-New York City, to rock musicians with or without girlfriends, living in England. Why the morph? Because of my own interest in rock music as well as actually having participated in a local band for a few months, and having gone to England in 1970, as well as the notion I had the rock bands from England were more worthy overall than American ones (and Brit bands were my fave bands anyway.) These topics have been discussed in previous posts here and on my blog.

The names and looks of the characters were created in the mid-60s with other characters being created in the mid-80s, which was when I started getting serious about the books, which was still just one book novel. But instead of a diary to write stuff that would later make up the book(s), I just wrote on notepad paper with pen.

In the meantime, I had a teaching job–more than one–and children, which of course took precedence over novel writing. Then came the use of an old 48K Atari computer that I typed ten chapters on, and, really, the whole thing was random…this character did this and that character did that and it was as if it was just a satire on the lives and loves of rock musician celebrities. It was funny, but meaningless in a way. At that point in the early 90s what I was typing onto 4.5 inch floppy discs was just a matter of getting these characters out of my head onto printer paper.

I do not remember the year–1992? 1993?–that I went outside one night and the spirit of the theme took over my head, “telling me” to remake the book(s) into a fight between the forces of good and the forces of evil. One problem–if this was going to be about a rock band, Brit or not, then I had to get with ‘the program’ so to speak because by the early 90s I had lost touch with rock music…the last I remembered was punk and new wave of the early 80s. Living in a rural remote area of far west Texas–where country music reigns supreme and rock music is considered by the hardcore fundamentalist Christians out here as some kind of devil worship (!)–I had no idea how rock music was evolving into what in the 90s was called ‘grunge’ or ‘rock-rap’ or ‘death metal’ or ‘emo’ or whatever. Until 1994, when I got a teaching job in a gang-ridden high school in El Paso. The job sucked, but the themes rustling around in the pop culture world of the high school didn’t. The majority of my students were Hispanic and at the time a female singer from south Texas, Hispanic–I don’t remember her name but she was huge among my students–was the rage, as was rap, especially among the few black students I had. But I did have some white kids as well, mostly children of Fort Bliss parents–these kids were into, primarily, Nirvana with Kurt Cobain–a major influence on my characterizations–and grunge groups like Nine Inch Nails and Green Day. All American groups–what happened to the Brits? Well, it turned out, I discovered, that the Brit bands from the latter 80s were still around.

And that, my friends, is why my fictional band, Sound Unltd, stemmed from the 1980s. Originally, they were supposed to be late 60s-70s group, but rock music had changed so much since then that I did not think it would be wise to make them a 60s-70s group.

Then, when I really began to get really serious after resigning the El Paso teaching job and moving back to the rural remote in 1995, I had a decision to make–just write a satirical book making fun of rock stars and celebrities with all the fun of sex scenes, orgies, drug use, and sex-drug-rock-n’-roll themes, or write a book or books exposing the fallacy so many who lived in my area believed to be true–that rock stars are all devil worshipers, and rock music was the ‘devil’s music.’ And more.

Around the same time, what with events like Ruby Ridge, Waco, and the Oklahoma City bombing–all around the time of a series of Satanic holidays beginning April 19 and ending with Beltane, Walpurgis Night, and May 1–and the so-called “Patriot Movement” against the so-called ‘New World Order’ (spear-headed by both Presidents George HW Bush with his 1989 ‘New World Order’ speech and Bill Clinton’s screeds about globalism throughout the1990s)–I felt it might be another good idea to incorporate an ‘Illuminati-CFR-Bilderberg-type’ organization into the mix, representing the ‘evil’ side…I mean, the symbolism they use–the ‘All-Seeing-Eye’ on the dollar bill and all atop a pyramid with the Latin phrase within-“ANNUIT COEPTIS NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM”–which means, “Announcing the Birth of the New World Order” (or some say, “New Order of the Ages.”). And, having read Biblical prophecy and growing more interested in the possibility that the so-called “end times” were getting closer to fruition, I figured this whole notion of “one world government” was not just some conspiracy theory, but getting closer–and who would lead this one world government? Those who clearly sought power and likely had the money to buy power–bankers and their minions in government and also the media and entertainment industries–and would willingly side with ‘the anti-Christ’ at the end.

Just a note here: the Biblical Book of Revelation, on which so much ‘end times prophecy’ is based, mentions three parts of the so-called “Beast System” which has to exist for all this prophecy to occur: the Dragon (Satan, or the Anti-Christ, or some person Satan/the anti-Christ inhabits), the Beast (which I suppose is a system that supports Satan) and the False Prophet (and there are all sorts of theories as to who or what the False Prophet is!). Thus, it is this notion of an evil system that provides the novel’s notion of ‘bad guys.’ And, according to prophecy, after the anti-Christ comes and sits in the temple in Jerusalem, the true Messiah, Christ–accompanied by a huge number of good angels–returns in the ‘second coming’ to overthrow the evil. Prior to this happening, all humanity must make a choice–side with evil or side with good.

And that, folks, is the overarching theme of my books–my fictitious rock band of world-wide renown must make that same decision before it is too late. The Prodigal Band Trilogy is their journey to that decision, and what they do with it.

Being a ‘Non-Conformist’ Author: You Don’t Always Have to ‘Follow the Script’

In the mid-1990s I joined a local far west Texas writer’s group called ‘Texas Mountain Trail Writers.’ While working on the first printed novel I would call Battle of the Band, I needed ‘tutoring’ so-to-speak on absolutely what had to go into the novel to make it a legitimate novel, to market and sell the thing–that is, get some literary agent to ‘sell’ it to a big time publisher. No literary agent came a-calling, so I had to do it myself.

And this was what I picked up in all of these discussions and even annual writer conferences, which I will now list:

  1. ‘Show, don’t tell.’ Anyone who writes novels or books knows what this means. And I believe in ‘show, don’t tell,’  but there are times the ‘tell’ part has to be used perhaps  more than some would find acceptable, as I discovered finishing up my first book.
  2. Your setting must be a setting one is familiar with. After all, aren’t most of Stephen King’s novels set in Maine, where he is from? (And why do I always use Stephen King as an example? Because other than literary genius Kurt Vonnegut–from Ithica, New York (quite a few of his books are set in that part of New York state)–no writer has influenced me to write than the best suspense-si-fi-horror novelist in US history.
  3. Your characters must be from the setting you use that must be one you are familiar with.  Not all, but many of King’s characters are from Maine, or at least New England.
  4. Your characters, because you must know your characters–especially the main ones–must be part of you and even as you are. (Characterization)
  5. Dialogue–your characters must speak in a way that characters from a particular setting would speak, thus you must know how these characters would speak, which is why they ought to come from a particular familiar setting. Further, you characters must speak in a way that it is obvious for that character and the reader knows that is how the character talks. Use catch-phrases as well.
  6. Genre–this is the item that has and will give me the most headache. My books are not genre specific, but a mix of spiritual/satire/adult-rated R not X/horror/suspense/fantasy, so that could be why no literary agent touched my books–literary agents tend to be genre specific, or at least that’s what I was told by the first published author I ever met, a romance novelist (with plenty of the required ‘sexual tension.’)
  7. Theme–The only way I can describe any theme in my books is this: good triumphing over evil. If it isn’t ‘good vs. evil’ in fiction, then I am not writing it-ultimately, good vs. evil is the only issue that matters to me.
  8. Plot–Within the realm of the physical and mental and real and spiritual worlds, the plot revolves around an 80s-90s rock and roll band that, upon achieving great success, must choose their good vs. evil path, with triumphs, trials and tribulations along the way. Because they are ‘rock stars,’ they are ‘gonna do what a rock star is gonna do.’ Which is why these novels are adult–sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll–and not young adult or Christian or rated G. Sorry about that, but if my characters are going to be real, they’re just gonna have to cuss every now and then, or engage in free sex–and one of my characters is bi-sexual, by the way.

Did I miss anything?

So, here is where I ‘go off the reservation’ so-to-speak. ‘Show, don’t tell’? Who gets to decide if you I don’t show enough and tell too much? Folks, I have NEVER read a novel without some ‘tell,’ okay? Read JRR Tolkein’s “Silmarillion’ some time…there is so much ‘telling’ in that book that one would think one of the greatest novelists ever couldn’t write a novel to save his life! But of course, he has to ‘tell’ about how the elves and what not came to be, from what heavenly spirits, and the rest. Then you have books loaded with dialogue–in fact, one friend-turned-book-critic once told me that my two printed books had too much dialogue! “Too much telling,” she told me. After all, dialogue is kind of like telling, right? In my opinion, however, nothing SHOWS a character like his or her dialogue, and how he or she says it!

Where I really go off the reservation though is setting, for actual setting and in terms of where the characters are from and how they speak. I intend to fully explain the whys and what-fors of this issue in posts I have already written and just need the right time to post (since I am busy re-typing/re-writing my two printed books for e-book formatting purpose for sale on Kindle, Nook, Lulu, etc). But for now I will sum it up–since my characters are in a rock band of the 80s and 90s, and since I grew up in the 60s and 70s when British rock reigned supreme for the most part (beginning with the Beatles), and since I spent about two months there in mostly the southeast (Brighton area) and also met three twenty-somethings from Tyneside (Newcastle, of course) and I just loved hearing that Geordie accent… Okay, you get the idea. But just to make it a bit easier for me to deal with creating these books, roughly half of the settings in all my novels are in the US, either New York City or California between LA and San Fran. I grew up on Long Island and lived in NYC. I have visited southern and central California and know several folks from there  (and my brother and his family used to live near Silicon Valley). A number of supporting characters are Americans. Finally, for the most part, my Brit rocker characters spend most of their time in the most affluent part of England, which just happens to be the part of England I am most familiar with–the southeast, including the affluent county called Surrey. Thus, one really cannot accuse me of not knowing the settings and the ways of speaking (though I do use slang words every now and then that are more American than Brit, and one big mistake I made originally in the printed books was listing the dates American style instead of Brit style: instead of writing ‘the 15th of July’ I wrote “July 15.’ Or used the term ‘called’ instead of ‘rang’ on occasion…any slang terms I screwed up in my first two books will be rectified, I hope, in the e-books.

Finally, as I will explain in my posts that will be posted as soon as possible, my entire life generally does not ‘follow the script,’ and I’ve been for the most part a non-conformist my entire life.