Since the release of The Matriarch I’ve had many people message me on Twitter and Facebook asking what my inspiration was for writing this novel. I actually considered writing an author’s note in the book, but I figured most people skip those and it would be long winded as this was a very special project to me. So, I’d just write a blog post and if people were interested they could read it on my website.
The idea came when I was messaging my very first fan and one of my favorite bloggers, Cecily at Cecily’s book reviews way back in June or July of 2015 maybe. I was wanting to do a full-length novel after writing a few TPW shorts and novellas. I’ve been a fan of comic books my whole life and I love superheroes. Specifically the DC Universe, Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Dark Knight, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, etc. The Killing Joke is my favorite graphic novel/comic. I paid homage to all of them in some way, shape, or form in this book. So I had been kicking around the idea for a superhero novel for a while. I’d actually written the first draft of a non-erotica/romance superhero novel under another pen name.
Cecily of course told me superheroes were hot and she thought it was a pretty original idea and that she’d read it. Hadn’t seen anything like that available. She didn’t sound completely convinced, so I was like, meh, maybe it wouldn’t be as cool an idea as I thought. As I brainstormed with her I thought more about how I wanted to write a strong female lead (because i don’t like reading weak women leads), and then I said, “What if the superhero were female, and seduced bad guys?” She said, “Oh hell yeah, that would kick ass!” And that’s when Maggie Madison was born.
When I write longer works I usually start from a theme unless I’m inspired by something else. I knew I wanted a female lead who would be a total badass. I wanted her to be real and I wanted to tell her journey to badassery in book one. Part of writing characters is making them relatable, especially with superheroes. Their core values and what makes them tick need to be in line with a reader’s, even if they’re manipulating the laws of physics or defying biological impossibilities whilst performing herculean feats. I tried to think about female heroes in my own life, and that’s where the ‘mother’ theme came from.
Watching my own mother and now my wife with our son, it didn’t take much observation to realize that women are hardwired with a set of superpowers. When I’m home with boy he operates at such a high energy level it’s nearly impossible to keep up with. Yet watching my wife with him, and my mother raising six kids (four kids and two nephews) in our house, I was like “how the fuck do they do this?” If she stays home, all kinds of shit is done, the house is clean, the boy’s clothes actually match, and he’s eaten healthy food. I live in a state of perpetual fear that boy and I will burn the house down one day. Yes, women are superheroes.
But aside from the multi-tasking I’ve also seen mom’s react when they feel their children are threatened. The Hulk doesn’t have shit on them. Mama bear is a term used that didn’t just appear out of thin air. It’s used for a reason. Yes, women are superheroes. They are wired that way whether they have kids or not because I’ve seen it with step moms or moms who have adopted children. It’s built into their DNA. I wanted to convey those types of character qualities into my heroine. She was going to be a protector for people who were vulnerable, didn’t have mothers of their own.
I knew early on that I wanted Maggie to be a real character, and I wanted the book to be dark and gritty. I’ve always liked realism and sharp light/dark contrast in my superhero stories, and well, it was my book so I wanted to write something I’d want to read. Otherwise, I’d lose interest in a hurry. I knew I didn’t want her to have supernatural abilities (which led me to the classic nerd debate with myself, do you have to have superpowers to be a superhero? I always say no, but I knew some people might feel different. All I can say to that is, that’s like, your opinion, mannn). But, back to the point, there are a lot of struggling mothers out there who do what they have to do for their kids. I wanted to convey that through Maggie. She needed to struggle, not be handed superpowers.
I decided I was going to basically destroy her childhood, traumatize her any way that I could, beat her down to rock bottom, steal people she loves from her, and then have her work her ass off to become a killing machine, but also learn some lessons along the way, and try to get a normal life back. That was the plan for her origin. Conflict drives a story and makes it good, so I needed her to have lots of problems. The worse the problems, the more awesome it would be when she overcame them.
This is where the idea for Cody and a normal, all-american romance came in. I thought, could you imagine if you stole everything from someone and they never got to experience a normal life? Then throw them into a fairy tale type romance? This woman seems to have her shit together, but would be socially awkward in that situation. It would add layers to her character, and I liked the idea for some of the comedy that could come with it in the second act, since the first was pretty dark and gruesome. It would help with might light/dark contrast.
To build additional conflict (I’m a conflict junkie, thanks EJ Robinson), I always ask myself a pretty sadistic question: How can I torture these fucking characters?
The bigger the problems you give the characters, the more dramatic payoff you can get when they overcome them. Maggie was going to have some big fuckin’ prollems. So I gave her two villains and beat the shit out of her and everyone she cares about, multiple times. I took it as far as I thought I could without having readers put the book down and say “this is too much”. I definitely asked Celia a few times, is this too violent? Can I get away with doing this? It was a gray, moving target, but that was the plan, and honestly it follows the lines of most superhero plots out there.
So, if anyone actually reads this post, that’s where the idea and inspiration behind Maggie Madison came from. Hopefully, I executed the plan well enough that you felt some of that throughout the story. If you have additional questions you can leave them in the comments or hit me up on Twitter or Facebook. I won’t tell anyone what’s going to happen in book two, but I love talking about the characters and themes in book one.
Thanks for reading my stories!
For readers 18 and over. Contains sexually explicit material.
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Such a nice tribute to your mom, wife and females in general. I am so Glad Maggie was not given superpowers because she is more human. Her dark past is what drives her. Justice or revenge, my favorite line! This was by far the best book I read in 2015. And I am looking forward to reading the rest of her story.
What a great thing for you to use your observation powers on. Most men, excluding my husband, do not realise what great beings we are. I love the way you think. Thanks for being so great at your art, and I do consider writing an art as much as if you picked up a brush. Because to me you do when you paint a story so well i feel like im there watching each piece happen.