by Jean Lorrah

That's right, folks! One reason work on Channel's Destiny is not going as fast as it might is that while we're writing it, Jacqueline and I are each independently writing another book. You've already heard about Jacqueline's Molt Brother series. Well, the summer of '78 spawned another series: SAVAGE EMPIRE, by Jean Lorrah. In February, 1979 (as a matter of fact, just as I was heading out the door on the way to FebCon), I received a letter from Sharon Jarvis telling me that Playboy Books is buying SAVAGE EMPIRE.

This book will be the first in a series (what else?), and the second thing I've written that developed from a title. (For trivia fans, the first was the humorous "Sarek and Amanda and Kirk and Spock." Someone made that up as a parody-title for an NTM-universe story, and I couldn't resist supplying the story to go with it. It's in The Obsc'zine #3.)

The conception of SAVAGE EMPIRE was most unusual, considering that there are four progenitors, all female! While I was staying with Jacqueline last summer, finishing the first draft of First Channel, she gave me Katherine Kurtz's novel, Deryni Rising, to read one Sabbath. That's where I got the inspiration to write a heroic fantasy, but that's all I had--just the vague notion that I'd like to write something like that if I ever got around to it.

Most of July and August, Jacqueline and I were writing madly Monday through Thursday, and running off on weekends to appear at conventions. The end of First Channel seemed to retreat as we went along. In the last two weeks we made two immense changes--the point of view, and the ending. The last con we had scheduled was August Party, from which Jacqueline would fly to California and I would drive to Kentucky. The last pages of First Channel were actually written at Mary and Vic Schmidt's house in the morning, before we went over to August Party in the afternoon!

But then it was done. Oh, there was still an immense amount of work to do, but the inspiration part was over. All the ideas, from beginning to end, were down on paper. My mind was free for other ideas.

Neither Jacqueline nor I was a guest at August Party, so to save money we shared a room with Anne Pinzow and Katie Filipowicz. Anne decided to go see the film, Doc Savage, being shown as part of the con. She came back to the room to announce, "Anything with the word 'savage' in the title is sure to sell!"

Jacqueline said, "There's the title for your novel, Jean. Savage something!"

Now you understand that at this point there was no novel--just Jacqueline's urging that I write something on my own, and my vague notion that I might attempt a heroic fantasy something like the Deryni books. But just for the fun of it, I started playing with titles--Savage Blood, Savage Swords, Savage Heritage. The next morning, as I was brushing my teeth, it came to me. SAVAGE EMPIRE! shouted it out. It sounded good to Jacqueline, Katie, and Anne. I had a book!

Um . . . well . . . I had a title for a book--a title to spawn a whole series of books Swords of the Savage Empire, Savage Sorceress, Prisoner of the Savage Empire, et cetera, ad nauseum. What I didn't have was plot, theme, or characters.

The four of us went down to breakfast, discussing the concept of a savage empire, for of course that is a contradiction in terms. I soon realized that there was an empire, beset by savages. I wanted to do something with ESP powers; by the time breakfast was over, I had a civilized empire with a small portion of the population having internalized ESP powers--telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, etc. Some of the attacking savages, on the other hand, have externalized powers--psychokinesis in all its varied forms. It was Jacqueline who wrote down the first words ever written about SAVAGE EMPIRE on a napkin from the hotel coffee shop: "Percept: Implementers. Utilizers. Impose."

Well . . . you know how Jacqueline's mind works!

Now I had a society--but I still didn't have plot, theme, or characters. They weren't long in coming. By the end of August Party I knew that the basic plot would be a Jean Lorrah special: a man of the empire and a woman of the savages, each with the strongest of his own people's powers, each--in the grand occult tradition--sworn to virginity to preserve those powers. I knew I had to create a situation that would force them to work together, to get to know one another--and finally, each must decide independently that the other is too powerful, too dangerous. Each decides to sacrifice his own powers to put the other out of commission--each decides to seduce the other. Imagine a seduction scene between two thirty-year-old virgins!

SAVAGE EMPIRE developed even more as I drove home. I'm not sure how safe a driver I am, as I seem to spend most of my time on long trips in an alternate universe! The characters began to develop; scenes began to play out; the book came to life. I had fifty pages and an outline done by IguanaCon.

I now know that the first novel in the series is about the creation of the savage empire. The main characters now have names, Lenardo and Aradia. Lenardo is a Reader of the Aventine Empire; Aradia is an Adept of the savages (who don't think of themselves as savages at all). So far, I haven't figured out how to fit in the traditional Lorrah shower scene (there's one in First Channel), but I do have a rather funny non-sexual bath scene that may or may not be cut.

At this writing (April 3, 1979), SAVAGE EMPIRE is still in its infancy. All of you will recognize where the idea of societies with opposing capabilities come from. Jacqueline was also helpful to me at FebCon, brainstorming SAVAGE EMPIRE back to the top of my mind after I had done little with it for six months.

That is how things stand at the moment--but do let me set your minds to rest on one point: There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that Anne has persuaded Jacqueline to change the title of the novel about the first fully-functional esper channel to SAVAGE SIME!

© Copyright 1979 by Jean Lorrah

((Jean's biographers take note--Jean has condensed the events of two successive con weekends in this story of the conception of SAVAGE EMPIRE. It did seem to all flow together like that . . .))

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