|Cover for Radio Hope, by Sean McLachlan|
He stared at the next table where a samurai sipped his saki as he played poker with a Viking guzzling mead
and tugged at his collar. "Ah, this is some place you have here, Captain McCord."
I nudged up my Stetson and smiled, "Your own novel, RADIO HOPE, opens in a bar."
Sean nodded, "People being people, that's no surprise.
I mean when 90% of the population is dead, and the world is a toxic wasteland, getting wasted seems the thing to do."
"Making it a better place comes to my mind," I said low.
"And that is what the only radio station, RADIO HOPE, is trying to do for the world.
It is a mysterious station that broadcasts vital information about surviving in a blighted world.
But when a mad prophet and his army of fanatics march out of the wildlands on a crusade to purify the land with blood and fire, my three main characters will find their lives intertwining and changing forever."
I said, "I just bought your book -- who are these 3 characters?"
"Annette Cruz is one. She's the bouncer of the bar, $87, 953 and has to deal with fights, sexual harassment, and hate speech on a regular basis."
I frowned, "I named Meilori's for my Ningyo wife. What is the story behind the name of your bar?"
"The name belongs to another story and involves another sin."
Haunting memories of slanted jade eyes filled my mind for a moment, and I said, "Bars and sin seem to go together."
I sighed, "And your other two main characters?"
"A frustrated revolutionary delivering water to villagers living on a toxic waste dump, and the assistant mayor of humanity's last city hoping he will never have to take command."
I sighed, "We either take control of our lives or they take control of us. I've read the first few pages, and I like Annette. A single mother, good with guns and fists, ready to lay it all on the line for her son."
I cocked my head. "Speaking of radio, I hear you were a ham radio operator in your university days."
"I’ve always loved radio so it was nice to be able to use it in my novel. Yes, I used to be a ham radio operator,
using the equipment at the University of Arizona back in my undergraduate days to talk to people as far away as Korea and Greece. I still listen to shortwave broadcasts with my son."
He took a long drink of his rum and coke. "It's an honor to finally be able to talk with you, Captain McCord. My first novel, A FINE LIKENESS, was a historical horror tale ...."
Sean paled, but I shook my head, "I've lived a few horror tales, son. I don't take offense. What is A FINE LIKENESS about? I might want to read it, too."
"It was set in the American Civil War. I used many real characters and situations, and even bits of real dialog culled from contemporary newspapers."
I smiled sadly, "It sounds a bit like Roland's latest account of my adventures in 1895 Egypt, DEATH IN THE HOUSE OF LIFE."
He looked concerned that he had offended me so I looked to take his mind off it by asking, "Do you outline your novel, or do you just run with it, so to speak."
"A bit of both, sir. I outlined roughly the story of how the world became toxic, but the details fleshed out at the keyboard as I wrote."
He brightened as he got caught up in the memories. "For example, I knew New City was going to be threatened by an army of rampaging zealots called the Righteous Horde.
But I didn't want it to happen until the end so that I could show the citizens reacting to the threat of impending doom."
Sean said, "I asked why didn't those zealots just sweep down on them like the Mongul Horde."
He flashed a wide smile. "It came to me then: no horses! Why not I asked myself. Biological warfare came the answer. So you see how I fleshed out the details at the keyboard."
He paled as Alice Wentworth sat beside me and flashed him a smile full of sharp, sharp teeth. "I do so love ... flesh."
Sean McLachlan is an archaeologist turned writer who is the author of several books of fiction and history. Check him out on his blog Midlist Writer.