Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Good ideas that never were

I'm nearing completion on a fairly lengthy project that I can't talk about yet. It feels good to have it almost complete. I'm scrolling through it working out minute details, the least fun but also the least taxing part.

When I mentioned the Miss Daisy mystery story the other day, it reminded me of another sustained idea I had that never played out. Sometimes publisher decisions more than creative issues seal the fate of a project.

Danube: From spy to demon hunter
I was in high school when I first created the character named Danube, who is ultimately the hero my novel Gnelfs (G is silent). I read Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine a lot in those days, and Danube was a spy operating behind the iron curtain, dressed in a black coat and a fur hat. In stories I wrote in English class, he sneaked around Berlin streets protecting scientists from Russian agents or something like that.

By the time I was ready to write Gnelfs, he'd changed into a demon hunter. The idea from Gnelfs came from a talk show where someone warned of the dangers of demonic symbols in cartoons. What if there were symbols put into Saturday morning cartoons unintentionally by artists simply copying old runes? Symbols that could be exploited by those aspiring to evil ends?

Gnelfs emerge
The Gnelfs in my story were demons who took on the forms of cartoon characters with a much more nasty look and style. They were worthy of a demon hunter/occult detective, but I wanted Danube to be a little different. He kept the black coat but wore a priest's garb yet had the ability to cast a spell or two and had some other tricks up his sleeve.

One of my friends at the time kept after me to tell him who Danube really was because the book only hints at it. The notion was that Danube's true identity would emerge over a series of novels, but there were hints about his origins.

Clues and answers
He had red hair, and he had nightmares which involved falling silver coins, and he confessed: "My father betrayed a friend once."

Legend or Renaissance art suggests that Judas had red hair, and I picked up somewhere that a part of the curse upon him was that his children would be vagabonds (You know I may be wrong on that point. In retrospect that may have been Cain's children. I'll have to check the Bible on that. (8/23)

He betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

Not the most clever masking I suppose, but I was young and pumped about getting to write books at all.

My publisher at the time had other ideas about what I should write - a series of young adult novels and a couple of other books with young protagonists. I just never got around to finding another adventure for Danube and chose not to drop into comic books because I didn't want to turn him over to a comics publisher.

I don't really regret that I didn't get around to a second Danube tale. I could have written short stories about him, but I moved on to other things.

Maybe I'll resurrect him one of these days, though, so keep his secret under your hat.


7 comments:

Doctor Who said...

"Roger that" on keeping it on a "need to know basis". Do you follow any of the Asain markets as it relates to the young adult markets? They would love the fantasy elements as laid out in your abstract. Disney has done a pretty clever job in licensing the more "risk-a" material in the US. I can talk for days on this topic. But, this may be old ground for you.

I like your narrative on the "old- days"

Anyway, Cheers...

ME Strauss said...

Sydney,
Thanks for the visit.
What made you stop by?
I enjoyed reading your blog. Had no idea about Marc Cohn. Had my head buried in work.
I'll be back.
me

Sidney said...

Thanks for dropping by, ran across your blog using the "next blog" feature and read a number of your posts.

rhein said...

sydney, i ran into your blog via Doc's blog, and i read your posts. have you heard the indigo girl's song, "ghost"-?

Sidney said...

I listened to a sample of "Ghost" on the Indigo Girls website. I'm not as familiar with it as some of their other tunes, but it's a cool song. I'm not sure if they did it at their Lake Union concert or not.

Sidney said...

Doc, glad you liked the post - I have not had anything published in Japan. Some of my young adult work has done well in German translations, and I had a short story in a collection re-published in Portugal.

ME Strauss said...

I think your work shows originality. It's hard to break into the trade. There is only so much money and yet there is soooo much talent. Part of it is making yourself a person. Look for ways to join conferences and meet people so they will know you as an individual.

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