Australians are inherently evil. I mean—they must be. What with their crazy accents and their Foster’s beer and their Crocodile Dundee. And because of my ingrained cultural insensitivities, I had no choice but to have Australians as the major villains in my original concept for the story that became The Loyalty of Pawns.
Details and minor spoilers after the jump.
I’ve talked about the origins of the story that became my first novel before. And I will happily admit that some of my earlier ideas were little more than a young guy wanting to do some crazy stuff. More than a few of these ideas survived from fanciful comic book concept to the first complete manuscript I wrote. One of these was Australians in place of Europeans as the foreign power that steals the prototypes from Jameson Masters.
Why Australians? For no other reason than that they’re never the bad guys. It was fun and quirky. It lacked any kind of extrapolation from current events as basis, I’ll grant. But it was memorable if nothing else.
How did Australians become a serious enough foreign power to mount a covert operation on an American defense project in Spain? I’m glad you asked! In the fictional world, at some point before the time in which the book takes place, there was a coup, and it is a militarized nationalist Australia that rises to power (someone should use that idea for something—it still strikes me as quirky if it can be believable).
Like the European continentalist terrorists in The Loyalty of Pawns, the Australians had a viewpoint character in their leader. As you might imagine, his motivation was a little different than the current bad guy. In the published book, the resistance leader Tomas Lehman has a clear cut goal toward removing what he believes is American oppression. The Australian commander was more conflicted because he was participating in a covert action that could start a war if discovered (in that way the perceived ticking clock was the same in each version of the story).
At the end of the day, I think The Loyalty of Pawns already asks for a lot of “buys” from the audience to set up the world. Those are made more palatable, hopefully, by being believable outgrowths of current events. I got lucky in that respect because I had always liked the idea of the United States in some position of dominion over Europe. The growing debt crises in EU member countries provided a great vehicle by which that could happen. It also created my new villain.
The book mentions the cold war style conflict between the US and Russia, and before I started writing the manuscript, in my head Russians were the bad guys. I don’t know what prompted me to decide that Europe would have a resistance movement that violently wanted the US off the continent, but I was tickled by the notion of a group of terrorists coming from western countries that aren’t viewed as militarized—to say nothing of the fun of turning Europe into a hacky sack being kicked back and forth by the US and Russia. It also created an interesting motivation for Tomas (which he pretty explicitly lays out near the end of the book) and completely transformed the nature of Bradley’s character—perhaps I’ll talk more about that at some point. Frankly, it’s the aspect of the book I like the most.
Gotta say, though…kinda miss the Australians and automatic rifles that shot explosive boomerangs.