*I'm borrowing this entry from one of our other blogs (The Musings of Two Creative Minds) because what happened here involves our own dear Nathan was heavily involved in this situation. And it gives you a little hint of a story that will be appearing in the next anthology book "Two for the Road", which will contain a number of tales some familiar from this blog, along with some brand new stories including the one being discussed here. I have hopes that this anthology will be appearing later this year, but we'll see what happens. Both Helen and I have got a number of irons in the fire, including turning "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home" into an audiobook. Wish us luck and enjoy this peek into our creative processes....
What happens when two authors, who are married to each other, get the same type of idea for a short story for their respective book series?
Funny, that this pup should be asking that question, because it happened to Helen and me just recently.
As you all know I created a vampire (or as I call him a 'vampyre' since he's not a true undead being, but more of a science fiction-based blood drinking, shape-shifting, sun avoiding being) named Nathan Steward. For those who aren't familiar with him here's a brief synopsis. Nathan was a Union soldier in the Civil War who got blown into a Para-Earth where one of the life forms there fused itself to him, creating a symbiotic bond that allows them to coexist as one. This symbiotic arrangement has also extended Nathan's life far beyond that of a normal human being, which means he has existed for over 160 years. This has allowed him to see and be a part of a lot of history.
Then about 2 2 1/2 years ago, Helen created Rafael Jones, star of her "The Forever Detective Series". Set in New York City in 1947 and told from Rafael's point of view, we quickly we learn he was a police officer, who wanted to serve his country during World War II. Unfortunately, because of his police training he was assigned to MP duty, but later became an investigator gathering evidence for the Nuremberg trials. In the first book "Forever's Too Long" he has come back to NYC and is opening his own private detective business. In his first 2 cases which become one, he learns that supernatural beings do actually exist, in this case in the form of vampires. As the case progresses, he winds up getting killed and turned into a vampire himself. Yet upon rising he has managed to hold onto his humanity and goes after the vampires responsible for his death, who are also going after a close friend of his.
From there, the series continues with Rafael learning to adjust to his new existence, while keeping his private investigation business going. In his next cases, he encounters more supernatural beings such as ghosts, kelpies, and those gifted with magic such as mediums, witches, wizards, as well as other beings such as ghosts, kelpies, dryads, and many others.
Recently, she added a spinoff group of books centering around some of these other folk, focusing on some adventures of their own that do not involve Rafael. Some of these tales take place before and during World War II.
Well so do a number of my stories with Nathan...
So, I recently had been asking myself what kind of story can I come up with for Nathan during World War I? I had recently been listening to podcasts that told stories of the United States getting hit with sabotage for supplying war materials like weapons and ammunition to England, before we actually entered the war. And two of the cases took place in New York and New Jersey, which was where Nathan was working backstage at vaudeville palaces. So he'd be aware of these incidents, and I could get him involved helping the government by catching a ship headed to England. Now this was during the time of submarine warfare which meant I could easily put him in conflict with a German U-boat to save the ship he was traveling on.
Now I knew Helen had been working on a U-boat story set in WWII for a second anthology in her spinoff series "W. I. T. C. H. Hunters Forever". However, she wasn't sure if she'd ever get around to finishing the anthology. And since my story took place in WWI, I didn't think there would be a problem. So, I got the story well under way before telling Helen about it. She thought it sounded interesting, but then pointed out it might be too similar to the story she had been working on. After much discussion she told me to go ahead with mine and she would drop hers. Now I could tell she was disappointed, but since she insisted, I kept working on mine.
But being the diligent little writer that I am, I wanted to see what the interior of a WWI U-boat was like, and boy was I in for a surprise...
As you can see, this barely had enough room for maybe 10 people. And not a lot of places to hide, which was what I needed for some of the plans I had for Nathan's activities. I had been envisioning the much bigger and more complex U-boats of WWII. I needed a vessel much bigger than this, with a lot more places to hide and lurk between his acts of sabotage. So, what could I use instead?
Then a memory from my childhood came to me...
Zeppelins! I got fascinated with them after seeing a film showing the destruction of the Hindenburg in 1937. But when I read up on them, I discovered they had been used in WWI to bomb England and other countries at a time where they could achieve heights most biplanes couldn't. Of course, this changed over time as the war dragged on, but for several years, the Zeppelins were the scourge of the night sky, quietly floating over unsuspecting towns and cities.
They of course could travel over water as well, which meant they could and did occasionally target ships in the waters below.
And after seeing a cut-away diagram like this one...
I knew I had the answer to both our problems. So, I quickly set about reworking the U-boat story I had going and turned it into Nathan 'haunting' a Zeppelin instead. Naturally, I informed Helen that the U-boat story was hers, once more, and explained why I changed my mind. I'm pleased to tell you that she was delighted by this turn of events. Especially, as she told me afterwards, she hadn't really wanted to give up the story she'd had planned because it was such a good one. Which it is! Trust me. But you'll have to wait for the next anthology book in her series to read it.
And by the same token, you'll have wait for the next Vampyre Blogs anthology, to read my zeppelin story as well. But it may show up later this year or definitely next year at the latest.
However, I just wanted to share with you what can happen when you have to very creative minds living under the same roof. Sometimes, you both might come up with similar ideas, but there are ways around such situations, to avoid having readers possibly wind up comparing who did a better job on their story.
Researching source material for your setting can make or break a writing project. So make sure you're diligent, especially if you're writing about historical events.
Until next time, stay safe and keep writing everyone!
PS: If you enjoyed the Pondering Pug concept, do let us know. We'll be happy to continue having the pug occasionally show up on the blog with new thoughts and questions to explore. Besides, he is so darn cute!