Story Behind the Story

The idea started about eight years ago, during long chats with my survivalist friend who was busy building his very own eco-house, complete with ground heat source and composting toilet. My main question to him was this:

What happens when all the other people run out of food? Won’t they go on the rampage and steal yours?

I guess this is where Bobs’ speech in Chapter 1 comes from:

‘When the food runs out and people are rampaging down our street, trying to get into our bunker, you will be jolly glad of improving your aim.’

The plot evolved messily, and quickly got out of control. I knew I wanted monkey-type creatures from an early stage, but then the story sprouted an alternative Victorian reality, a terrifying professor, cannibals, a vast forest, colossal flesh chambers and a clockwork woman.

 It ticked, clockwork clicking as it tap-tapped across the polished wooden floor. A doll-face looked at him, beautifully painted, fitted with opal glass eyes.

It took a long time to get the plot under control. I cut away the clockwork empire to use later in the series, along with most of the ruined future. The strange tattoo-like markings appeared early, but it wasn’t until a late stage before I knew what they were.

The story shifted very late from third to first person and the difference was startling. Frank came alive, freaky, fabulous, fists-flying. See how it happened here.

It was only half way through the writing process that I hit on the current structure, focussed on the present day, the problem of feeling like a freak and a proper villain. Although early drafts were third person (find out more here): this is how one of the earliest versions begins. It’s spoken from the villain’s point of view:

Civilization is on its last legs, toddling towards its end. Everything you know will go out with a bang. Soon, for you, it will all be over. Don’t panic though. I’m going to save the planet.

I won’t tell you how, but I will tell you this. Humans are no big glamour project, however you look at them. Open your eyes. Then close them fast. Pretend you never saw yourself. Try to forget.

Humans are the disease.

The last line should be familiar.

Story behind the Story Superfreak Melanie Kendry

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