Why I Wrote This Novel
There are a number of reasons for a person to contemplate writing a novel. In my case, I wanted to make some fast, easy money. Also, I wanted chicks to dig me.
As it turns out, writing is hard work, and the day when my literary remuneration rate rises to the level of minimum wage—if ever—will be a moment of high celebration indeed. Regarding the chicks thing, it turns out that any ladies who might be candidates for some funny business with someone like me are also defended by seeing-eye dogs. And those animals can be vicious.
However, even with these two provocations off the table, one additional literary motivator remains. I also wanted to sound the alarm about fascism.
“What, Gene? You mean like Hitler and stuff?”
Yes, John Q; like Hitler and stuff.
Here’s the deal: Most people, just like my main character in Where Madmen Rule, do not pay attention to politics. I don’t blame them. It is a dirty, nasty, disgusting, and often-futile business. Most definitely it is no fun to look at.
In the same way that a tour of a slaughter house would turn most people into vegetarians, knowledge of how our political system actually works—or fails to work—invariably leaves them quivering with fear and constantly looking over their shoulder, not to mention nauseous.
Even so—as my main character discovers, the hard way—it is something we must do anyway. This is because of the following scientific fact: If you, as a voter and a citizen, do not pay attention to politics, then politics will pay attention to you.
And by “pay attention to”, I mean “get”, as in “If you don’t quit touching yourself under the covers, at night, the Boogie Man will get you.”
Do you like the NSA spying on your ass? Do you like wild-eyed cultists stalking the streets with military grade, automatic weapons? Do you like religious nuts selecting the curriculum for our children’s science and history textbooks? Or how about gibbering science deniers being chairmen of congressional and senate science committees?
If you do like these things, then, by all means, pull the covers over your head and go back to sleep. Don’t inform yourself. Don’t force yourself to watch the news. Don’t fact check anything. Just hang out and party.
Now, at this point, I am not going to say which political party I am accusing of such skullduggery. No, seriously, wild horses couldn’t drag it out of me. No, I mean it. Come on guys, seriously, no.
Okay, it’s the Republicans.
This is not to say that I trust the Democrats too much, either. In fact, my stance on any politician is the same as Robert Heinlein’s stance on shamans: They should all be considered guilty until proven innocent.
But the antagonists in my novel, though fictional and (slightly) exaggerated, were crafted from the rightwingers I see on television and hear pontificating on the radio, every single day. When Xandro and Quartho display a congenital inability to feel guilt, when they lie as easily as they breathe, when they successfully accuse their opponents of their own crimes, it is no coincidence. These political tactics are not something I made up out of whole cloth; they are only something I documented.
So here’s what I hope my novel will encourage people to do: Keep your eyes open, don’t believe anything any politician or political pundit tells you, and, for God’s sake, vote your own, rational self-interest. The gays are not plotting to turn us all queer. A handful of starving, Guatemalan children, fleeing violence and poverty, are not likely to ruin the country. The very rich are not “job creators” and should not be exempt from taxation for this reason. No one is coming to take our guns.
There. Done. Fini. Now half the people in the country will refuse to buy this novel on political grounds. But the fact is, I am an old man with a bad attitude, and I don’t give a flip.
Full disclosure: I pictured Quartho as looking a lot like Karl Rove.