I’ve got two books started and I haven’t decided which one to buckle down on next. I could, of course, really think about what makes more sense for continuity, consider marketing and ponder the milieu. However, doing so would require me to take time from valuable tasks like watching season two of Justified, stalking people I barely remember via Facebook and making abstract dinosaurs with my toe lint. As such, I’ve decided to seek the wisdom of you, my impossibly groovy and, considering the fact I’m publishing this on a Sunday, likely hungover reading audience.
The older of the two projects is, for the moment, titled The Nepotist. It will be based on the life of a gentleman named Hwang Jang-yop, who, depending on your perspective, is either a hero or one of the coldest bastards ever to live. In truth, he’s probably both.
In a macro sense, he chose to fight against the Kim family in North Korea – perpetrators of countless delights such as these. When North Korea does fall apart, it will be partly Mr. Hwang’s doing, hence the heroism.
However, in the micro-sense, when Mr. Hwang walked into the South Korean embassy in Beijing, he did so knowing his family would pay for his treason. And pay they did, Hwang’s son and wife “committed suicide” and his daughter, apparently, died trying to escape a prison truck. His grandchildren, if still living, do so within the cozy confines of a starvation and forced labor camp.
This choice, this area between the good of the distant many and the suffering of the nearby few is what I want to explore in The Nepotist. The plan is to write this story in two timelines – one from the point of view of the defector, one from the point of view of the son’s executioner.
At this early stage, I feel that the son’s acceptance or failure to accept his father’s defection and the defector’s acceptance or failure to accept responsibility for the destruction of his family will form the main narrative thrust.
The newer of the two ideas, currently titled “Price Fixing,” will be an origin story for a character in The Potency (available in July). I think this one is going to focus on the way poor social mobility makes ruthlessness a precondition of advancement. I want to explore this issue because I think it’s essentially a type of hypocrisy. If merit is not enough to overcome luck in the lottery of birth and, owing to this, the low born person fails in life, it is a little bit sad and we move on to something else. However, if merit is not enough to overcome luck in the lottery of birth and, owing to this, the low born person murders or disposes of those standing in his way, we absolutely do remember him but in a much less pleasant way. This puts the low born person of merit in a difficult position, fail or become a monster. The protagonist of Price Fixing will find himself in precisely this bind.
As for style, I think Price Fixing will be much funnier and more conventional while The Nepotist will veer into horror territory and present the opportunity for formal experimentation. I am excited for both and I can’t pick.
Please let me know which one you’d prefer to see next and, if you have suggestions, leave them in the comment section.