JANUS LIGHT AND DARK*
In THE JANUS LEGACY, I return to my obsession with looking at how a potentially beneficial technology can be twisted to serve dark purposes. I find endless fodder in the daily news to fuel my work. Absolutely endless. For me, it’s a matter of coming up with a solid plot and populating it with characters my readers will want to follow into the hell I create for them.
For JANUS, the technology is the manufacture of replacement organs cloned from the patient’s/client’s own cells. At least, that’s how it starts. Naturally, things spiral out of control in due course, unfortunately for the characters. But think about it—wouldn’t that be a great technology to have? Today, donor organs are hard to come by. People sit on the waiting list for years, often dying before the needed organ becomes available. Sometimes a communicable disease or cancer comes with the gift organ, to disastrous results. The technology in JANUS would eliminate all that. Well, at least for wealthy clients. JANUS explores the beneficial side of this technology—and then delves into the tragic consequences when things go too far.
The idea of cloning as the subject for a novel is one that has been bouncing around in the back of my head for so long that it’s on my original handwritten “list of story ideas” that I’ve toted around since I first became serious about writing fiction. I’ve wondered for quite some time, if we ever did clone a complete human being, what would be the nature of that being’s consciousness? If he or she only ever experienced a lab environment, what would go on in the clone’s mind? What sort of point of view would he or she have? I won’t say any more here at the risk of spoiling some of the plot, but I will say that this was a key challenge I took on when writing JANUS.
THE JANUS LEGACY is only my second novel. As I’ve mentioned in other articles and forums, I actually wrote the manuscript for my first novel, THE GENESIS CODE, some time back and then disappeared off the face of the earth for several years to attend law school and emerge into a new career and a new place to live. I began writing THE JANUS LEGACY shortly after DarkFuse accepted THE GENESIS CODE for publication—but before I could get started on it, I had to remember how to write a novel-length work and adjust my methods based on what I’d learned.
With GENESIS, I was in a very different place and time, and so would draft a chapter or two on the weekend, print them out and take them and a medium-sized spiral notebook to work with me, then write/edit during lunchtime each day. I edited each chapter to completion before starting another one. While I am pleased with the end result, I don’t think this was the most efficient way to go about it. Then again, this was before iPads and ultrabooks and such—so it worked for what equipment I had and the nature of my work day and location at that time.
In preparing to draft JANUS, I had to think through what logistical approach would work for me in my current situation. I don’t typically get out for lunch these days—and even if I did, I’m not located near quick, cheap little places to eat as I was in my Minneapolis/GENESIS days. It was so convenient to scoot out of the office, hustle to some fast-food place, grab something to eat, and hunker alone in a corner and work on the manuscript until it was time to head back. Reliving those days as I developed my new approach made me a wee bit nostalgic, and that is one reason I chose to set JANUS in the Minneapolis area. That and the fact that Minnesota’s dramatic seasons formed an absolutely crucial backdrop to the story. I spent a considerable amount of time arranging key plot elements to coincide with the seasons before I began drafting.
For JANUS, once I completed the plot outline, instead of editing each chapter to death before moving on, I wrote the entire manuscript, and then undertook several revision cycles top to bottom. And I did it all on the computer, no printouts. This approach worked well for me. It certainly saved an entire forest of trees. But beyond that, I think it let the entire plot breathe and adjust as needed before committing “final edits” to each chapter. That was a much more efficient use of time right there. It took me more than two years to write GENESIS; it took me four months to write JANUS. Then once I was done, I had the urge to write something noir, and that became ASH AND BONE. And that’s a story for another day.
I hope you enjoy THE JANUS LEGACY!
*Originally published in DarkFuse Magazine, when THE JANUS LEGACY was first released.