Normally, I'd be giving you an advance peek at the next chapter of Sleepwalkers tonight. But Simon's taking the week off and I don't want to get out of synch with him, so I have something else for you instead: a mini-peek-beneath-the-duct-tape on the whole story and some mainstream MC that ties in with sleepwalking and with a period in my childhood shortly before I dreamed up the story of Shara.
It was Shara's story then. She was the "me" I wanted to be, and because I hadn't yet come to grips with my fetish, she was never really brainwashed. Paul was there to help her fake her way out of it. I always dreamed of writing a book around their story, but I could never come up with a plot beyond "Shara and Paul accumulate allies and try to take down the Master from within his own compound" (It was a Master then, just like it was Shara's story. I'm not even sure I knew what homosexuality was at that point). Even after I started writing for the EMCSA, I was still trying and failing to make a novel out of that old fantasy.
Finally, last year, I figured it out. The real story is Paul's, not Shara's. Now, don't get me wrong; Shara is one of the three central characters, and she'll make your jaw drop several times before she leaves the stage. But Paul's the one with the mysterious, critical heritage; and the fact that he's so clearly not an action hero makes him the most interesting person to follow. He doesn't have all the skills, or all the answers, or even all the nerve, to pull off everything he attempts. All he has is genius and (now, at least) some allies.
I have to say I'm glad my readers like him as much as I do. For a long time I didn't feel confident enough to write a story where the lead was both male and unquestionably a good guy (Kerovan in Ethna Redux is heroic but not the lead character, and Matt of Raggedy Andy is a bit flat. Also, "Raggedy Andy" kind of sucks). I have the "friendly neighborhood orc" to thank for helping me keep Paul realistic. And now that I feel more confident writing male pov, I can move ahead with plans for a prequel featuring Paul's parents. I have a general outline already, and I can promise you that Angela and Reynaldo really were as conflicted and heroic as Paul imagines (I say "were" in case anyone's hoping for a twist where they turn out to be alive after all. Sorry, no. They really died, but the story of their sacrifice is amazing. IMO, anyway.).
Now we're on to the second part of my detour post, the bit about mainstream MC (well, sort of MC) that dates from a period just a little before my original Paul/Shara fantasy. You might not know this unless you're part of the same generation as me; but in between the classic, original King Kong movie and the recent Peter Jackson adaptation was a 1976 version starring Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange. I saw it in the theater as a kid, but I don't remember much about it now except how horrible Jessica Lange's acting was. It was so bad, I noticed it even though I was just a kid. If you'd told me then that I was watching a future Oscar winner, I'd have called you a liar.
But I digress. The reason I'm bringing up 1976 King Kong now is because of the one scene where Lange's acting actually did the trick for me: the sacrifice scene. Notice how her lips are parted just enough, how deeply she sways without quite falling over, how she's so far gone that even with all the madness taking place around her, she can't do anything but keep mindlessly drinking the stuff that's making her this way. The only thing I'd change about this scene is who comes to pick her up. Instead of Kong, I'd have it be Daryl Hanna from her Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman days. I'm sure Jessica would have a lot more fun with Daryl than she did with a grunting furball who just wanted to give her a shower.
Anyway, embedding is disabled for this video, so you'll have to head over to YouTube to see what I'm talking about. If this link works, you should pick up at just the right point; but if it doesn't, try this link instead and just scroll over to minute 44:38. Either YouTube or my browser is screwing up at the moment, but I don't know which; so I'm giving you both options just in case.