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Humble Beginnings



This is very hard to write.

You don’t think it would be. You’d assume that of all the stories a story writer would be dying to puton a page, the stories about how he created his characters would be at the verytop of the list. The issues I have when it comes to telling the story about TheScarlet Derby and Midnight Jay, though, is that it doesn’t feel to me like these characters were really “created.” Rather, they seemed to just fall together serendipitously, as though their creation was always supposed to happen at this point in my life, and in these circumstances.


Let me rewind a bit: It was July of 2013. I had lived in Colorado for just five months after moving from my birthplace of El Paso, Texas. I was barely making new friends, and the great majority of those friends came from the AnomalyCon convention, which had just happened in the last week of March, and just a week after I’d moved. So, I was playing around on Facebook (Who says it’s good for nothing?), and I happened upon a thread by one of the authors I had met through the convention, J.A. Campbell. A certain movie about a certain pair of masked heroes based on a famous TV show had just come out, and she was having a hard time understanding how much the movie itself seemed so hollow, empty, and lacking in sincerity. I offered the opinion that the concept of the zany yet dynamic hero, the type of hero who simply acted purely in the interests of good, had almost completely vanished in a big fog of literary cynicism some time ago. I walked away from that conversation thinking I should create a couple of superheroes just like that, to see if they were still viable.


At exactly the same time J.A. Campbell was inquiring all around to find new writers for the upcoming anthology series she was writing. So all at once I had an idea, a platform, and a reason to write. I also had a deadline of less than three weeks. Without much time to plan things out as intricately as usual, I drew from a lot from my past inspirations. 


I’ve always been a fan of Sherlock Holmes, so a good amount of my inspiration came from there. I also drew a lot from pulp fiction heroes of the 1930s and 1940s, especially that of The Shadow and The Phantom. The basic idea was to create a pair of characters that were like those 1940s pulp comic book and lite novel characters, but place it during the turn of the century.


I always felt that the two main characters were going to be masked heroes, one male and one female, and I always thought that they should be married. In some of my earliest drafts they worked completely as a unit and at times even shared one another’s thoughts. I didn’t want to have main characters without their own conflicts, though, so I came up with the concept that, while they were married, they’ve only been that way for a very short amount of time, and were still basically trying to understand how to put their lives together, both as civilians and masked vigilantes. It was around this time I also had made The Scarlet Derby an American immigrant to London, to put emphasis on how far apart their individual sense of worldliness was.

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