Tag Archives: Against A Rock

Sequel Outlines for Against A Rock

Back in 2009 I was all excited about my new novel, Against A Rock and wrote out a very detailed outline of my plans for a couple sequels, though I finally decided against actually sitting down to write them, particularly because Against A Rock was fan fiction for a video game called EVE Online, and I felt that it would lose some of its magic if I converted it to avoid copyright infringement the way 50 Shades of Grey was done.

I also want to write stuff that’s not quite so violent… but maybe that’s not such a good idea… maybe I was meant to be a writer of violent, torturous stories… no, I like experimenting with writing, doing different things and try something new with every story I write… or at least, that’s what I want.

But I do really like some of the scenes in this outline, though most of those instances are kind of twisted and sadistic, like the scene where the child is about to be executed and Mahran tells him what’s going on instead of protecting his feelings, the scene where Viotro’s favorite slave, whom he adores, betrays them and he’s forced to kill someone he genuinely cares about, with a hatchet to the cranium, or where the abolitionists are tricked into swallowing explosives by the slaves they had just rescued.

When I started writing Against A Rock I decided to do what I could to get into the head of a truly sadistic and selfish person, in this case, Floreina, our main character. What I found was that I really got in touch with the sadistic aspects of myself, aspects that I’d kind of been repressing for many years. I think that’s something that most of us repress and we pretend like we don’t really enjoy the thoughts of other humans suffering… but we do… I think all humans have the capacity to, and at some points in their lives, take pleasure in the suffering of others. We hide it, we deny it, we pretend we’re doing it for altruistic reasons, but in the end, we all have sadistic tendencies. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have some kind of human suffering in virtually every hollywood movie.

But the real problems with sadistic people, is when we give them guns, badges, and start calling them heroes. The problem is because we are lying to ourselves until we believe that the satisfaction we feel when a criminal is punished is out of a love of justice, when in reality, it comes from this deeply repressed love of human suffering.

So I think there are some healthy outlets for our sadism, such as these violent stories I write, horror movies, and my favorite new outlet, BDSM. I started topping (toppping is the term for when you’re the one swinging the whip) merely because that’s what people wanted, but I quickly found that once I get into the sadistic perspective, I need to be careful. The first time I made someone cry from hitting her, it was an amazing experience that I wasn’t expecting, and it never would have happened if they hadn’t asked me to do it, as topping was not something that comes naturally for me. The truth is, nobody knows what a sadistic person they really are until they start to explore it and try to understand it in a relatively non-judgemental context.

If we don’t stop to recognize what sadistic and awful people we all are, we will never be able to address the fundamental problems in our society. We need to explore these things, put ourselves in the minds of soldiers blindly killing the enemy without concern for their families, to recognize and imagine the overwhelming sexual urges that drive a serial killer, and recognize how easily we could convince ourselves it wasn’t so bad. We need to try to feel ourselves, that trapped desperation, frustration and lack of self-worth that drives men to beat their wives, and we need to stop and imagine what it would really feel like to be a police officer, with a license to kill, looking out at all the civilians, never knowing which one is a criminal so you learn to hate them all, recognizing that the punishments you inflict are never enough so you keep upping the ante.

We need to get in the heads of people who do sadistic things, to understand them.

It’s not just the people in prisons who are capable of great cruelty. That capacity is a part of all of us, and it’s time we recognize it.

About My New Story, I Kill For Money Preview

I posted a new story today called I Kill for Money… well, it’s not actually a story as much as it is a few sample chapters from another EVE Online novel that I came up with. Unfortunately I have no immediate plans to write this story, but I still love these scenes so I decided I had better just go ahead and post it.

The story follows Vena and Deihlmin who are cybernetically enhanced assassins for the Gurista pirate faction as they pursue a Concord chief, unravel a tale of war and deceit and find themselves falling in love. I wrote these a couple years ago when I was still actively playing EVE Online. I had just written a story called The Atrocity Planners, which a while later was published in issue #22 of EON Magazine (originally this was titled My Gurista Mom and Dad, but I took it to a writer’s group meeting at the local sex club and they gave me some wonderful suggestions including the new title). Anyway, the Vena character from The Atrocity Planners is the same Vena, all grown up of course, in this new novel idea. It’s not mentioned in the sample chapters but the idea of course, is that there’s a lot of back story about how she dealt with the tragedy that occurred in The Atrocity Planners.

A lot of the action-adventure details for this novel aren’t worked out yet, but I have a pretty clear idea of the characters, which is usually more important. Vena is a professional, trained from childhood for many facets of war. She has a shady history having been raised by pirates with frequent hardships, rolled with drug smugglers in late childhood and became a prostitute as a teenager. This allowed her to begin purchasing her cybernetic enhancements, which rapidly became an addiction. Through her late teens she spent the majority of her income on stolen military-grade implants and mental interface software. These implants led her back to the Gurista faction where she was hired and gave up prostitution and drug smuggling in favor of professional killing and espionage.

Vena was escaping from her childhood trauma and the difficulties she endured as a teenager. She escaped into her cybernetic implants, which finally gave her the sense of control over her own emotions and the power to manipulate the situations around her. The computers allowed her to escape her own life and as time went on she started to forget which parts of her were human and which were machine. She began playing characters for the Guristas, adjusting her personality to fit whatever mission. As she says in the second chapter, ” The best actors don’t act, they become.” But now she’s been infiltrating and playing parts for nearly a decade and she can no longer tell which character is actually Vena and can’t tell the difference between real love or passion and technological manipulations designed to accomplish a mission.

Deihlmin, on the other hand, grew up straight, in a wealthy family. He got bored with life and started buying implants in his early teens, but soon learned that the implants couldn’t help him do anything satisfying other than getting away with crimes. He started with petty crimes, simply for the fun of getting away with something and in a few years had moved up to drug smuggling. He too became a little addicted to artificial enhancements, though was careful not to lose his personality within the machine. Then, a group of smugglers he was working with on a particularly large score, were busted by Concord and he watched his friend get beaten to death. Deihlmin  was able to escape, but the police already had all his information, so he realized he could never return to the straight world. He was taken in by the Guristas who sympathized with his experience and he fell in love with the pirate lifestyle. Now that he had a score to settle with Concord within a few years he worked himself up to one of the Guristas elite infiltration soldiers.

So we’ve got two killers. Deihlmin truly believes the Guristas are the good guys, sees Concord as evil and wishes to fight them any way that he can. Vena simply kills for money. She tells herself the Guristas are the good guys, but deep down inside, doesn’t know if she’s sure.

Ultimately they unravel a conspiracy that goes through some top level officials in Concord and discover that many of them have been directly working with Gurista leadership in an attempt to keep a balance to the war, so that neither faction gains ground, but the local military industry, which of course has deep ties to both sides of the conflict, profits dramatically.

The story would explore the nature of criminal justice and the drive for violence through seemingly moral purposes. Like my first EVE Online novel, Against a Rock, there would be a lot of action, violence and suspenseful surprises, and the characters, of course, are not the most morally upstanding individuals. But unlike Against a Rock, this book would have a love element with just a hint of sexy stuff… but alas, I probably won’t write it any time soon unless by some miracle I get a real book deal 🙂

God asked me to Write my Last Novel

So this is embarrassing to talk about as an atheist, which is why I’ve never mentioned this to anyone, but it’s true. In 2008, God spoke to me and gave me a character and plot outline for my third novel, Against A Rock. I know logically that it was just my mind playing tricks on me (or subconsciously guiding me), but in every emotional and spiritual way, it was real.

I won’t get into how I got into writing when I was 15, which is a whole other spiritual experience, or what was going through my mind when I wrote my first novel. Suffice it to say that writing, especially fiction writing, is a deeply spiritual experience for me, even if I don’t believe in physical spirits. I’ve had a lot of different experiences in life, but nothing I’ve found can compare with writing a novel and living in that alternate world for months at a time… assuming, of course, you can find “the zone”, that passion and connection with those “fictional” characters, you know logically exist only as bits of text on your hard drive, but deep down inside you know are as real as you and me.

But in 2003, I became enthralled with programming Flash ActionScript, and web development in general, and couldn’t get enough code in my life. It was like a giant puzzle, but a puzzle I could build myself, a piece of functional art. It couldn’t quite rival fiction writing in emotional intensity, but what programming had was consistency. I could almost rely on writing code to sort of carry my mind away and relax me, and bring me that thrill and sense of magic (with a few simple conditions about the organization and purpose behind the code. I couldn’t get excited about pointless code, but other than that, as they say at WordPress.org, code is poetry). Fiction writing can bring me the same spiritual benefits with much greater intensity, but it’s hit or miss depending on how much I care about the characters or the theme of the story.

So… anyway, I sort of quit writing for almost five years, with the exception of a story called In The Name of Justice, which came to me in a dream in 2006, all fully plotted, with characters fully developed and everything.

Shortly after this dream/story I started thinking that I had built up enough of a career as a programmer that my job was mostly safe, so I didn’t need to spend all my free time programming, so I figured I should start writing again.

I had also been introduced to a game called EVE Online, a big spaceship online role playing game. In this game, I was what’s known as an Amarrian, a member of a highly religiously devoted society. I came up with a short story idea that would serve as a back-story for my game character, where a turret commander named Floreina had grown up under the Amarrian religion, but recently had started rejecting religion and even sometimes God. However, she had to keep it secret for there’s even more fundamentalists in Amarrian society than there is in modern religious society. She then has some token experiences that show that her captain is the bad guy and she goes on a secret mutiny. In the end, she succeeds and becomes my character in the game, (which explained why she had actually been doing missions for the enemy of the Amarrian Empire), and she finally comes to accept that her religion was lies, that it’s not necessary to believe in God, and from that freedom she feels the relief and independence, self-confidence, blah blah blah…

But somehow I couldn’t make the story work. I wrote almost 20,000 words, which is half of a short novel, and I just couldn’t believe in the characters like I did back when I wrote my first two novels from 1999-2002.

So I put the story away. I moved to Seattle and started working for a company that was building a DVD ordering system. My job was to build a functional demo of the entire application so that prospective clients could play with the system before it was actually built. One thing they could do was browse through a set of DVD images. They gave me a set of about 15 DVD images to put in as the graphics, so every day for a couple months I would look at these same fifteen movie covers, making them slide in and out and animate based on user input. Movies such as 3:10 to Yuma, Crash, and the one that caught my eye: Resident Evil 3, with the gorgeous Mila Jovovich and her confident strut, and the machine pistols she held in each hand.

This got me back into the idea of my mutiny story, and I kept telling myself to get back to it, just force your way through it. Sure the plot is just kinda atheist propaganda, but maybe you can turn it into something good. You can go back through and tone it down a bit. Maybe you can turn it into a simple action story, and if it gets too preachy, just cut out the preachy and make it all about the action and the mutiny.

I sat down a few times to write, but I still just couldn’t find that passion.

Then one day I was riding the bus home from work, just trying to force myself to brainstorm as hard as I could about the story. Normally the buses are packed, but today it was nearly empty. I sat by myself near the back, listening to Tool’s Vicarious, and suddenly, like magic, I stopped being an atheist. An overwhelming presence seemed to come down from everywhere and consumed me. My mind cringed, and I couldn’t open my eyes against this strange brightness that somehow wasn’t there. Then suddenly I saw my story, but one that was so twisted as to be nearly unrecognizable as the original story. And this commanding voice told me, or essentially ordered me to do a complete overhaul on Floreina. It was not in words, per say, but it was a linear series of concepts and thoughts that loosely translate to the following: “She will be an absolute believer. She will not be an atheist. In fact, she will hate people like you, and she will never question that belief, and you will use your writing to do everything you can to justify her hatred and help people understand her. You will embrace her religion with everything you have… and you will embrace her hatred. Don’t think about promoting atheism. Instead, embrace the opposite. Allow me to guide every keystroke in this novel. Listen to my voice. Embrace the violence; embrace the hatred…”

And I heard the lines in the song,

“Cause I need to watch things die…from a distance
Vicariously I live while the whole world dies
You all need it too, don’t lie”

blasting in my ears as God spoke to me. “Because I love violence, Kalin.” God told me. “I’m no different than any other author of a fictional universe. I want drama in my realm. I want action and screaming and crying and passion. That’s why I want you to commit such horrible, unspeakable violence through this novel. Naturally, I want this violence contained only to the realm of fiction. When you’re in the physical world, making real world decisions, you continue being an atheist, you continue logically recognizing that I am simply a trick of your mind, but when you’re in front of the computer, your fingers running over the keyboard, creating whole other worlds, and you’re lost in that alternate reality, I want you to give yourself over to me, and let me guide you. If you do this, I promise, this novel will be the best you’ve ever written and you will turn a new leaf as a writer.”

Shortly after arriving home, I sat down to start writing and was amazed at how quickly the magic arrived, and I became a believer. It took me six months to write Against A Rock. It was all I thought about for that time. My daily emotions revolved around the story. Things that happened in real life became irrelevant. The only thing that mattered was the story, but it never seemed to require work. It came like magic, the words flowing one after another.

Then one day I read some random story about police brutality and became distracted with thoughts of my anarchism for a few days. Then, as I was driving to Costco one day, I received the same kind of message from above, though this one much more mild, probably because I was driving. Something told me, or actually ordered me to write an article called 12 Reasons Why Criminal Justice is Counter-Productive to Peace On Earth, inspired by my article, 22 Ways Religion Promotes Crime, which I had written a few years earlier but never showed anyone. I went home and started writing, and rapidly surpassed the goal of 12. I got up to about 20 reasons, and found my mind cleansed and was able to get back into writing Against A Rock. Over the next couple weeks, I added to that article, and finally ended on the title, 35 Reasons Why Criminal Justice is Counter-Productive to Peace on Earth. I now consider this to be the most important thing I’ve ever written, and I’m waiting for just the right time to release it. It’s been over two years and I’ve returned to reexamine it a number of times, so it’s getting close.

Within two weeks of writing the 35th point in this list, my childhood friend, Isaac Zamora, whose family introduced me to Christianity and God, went on a killing spree. “I kill for God. I listen to God.” Isaac said at his hearing.

At this point in my novel-writing, Floreina was floating in space, her suit running out of oxygen, alone with her thoughts, and she starts thinking about the horrible murders she’s just committed.

After Isaac’s murders I almost completely lost the passion for the religiously-motivated murders in my story. Everything I was writing just seemed sick and disturbed, and that connection with God was nearly gone. The parallels between Floreina, Isaac and myself were simply terrifying. For almost a month I couldn’t write more than a few paragraphs.

Then something changed. My sorrow for the victims was replaced with anger at the religion that had done this to them, that does this to countless people all over the world. I consciously channeled that anger into Floreina and pressed on, and somehow, that passion for violence came back, and that feeling of being touched and guided by God rapidly returned. He went back to guiding my keystrokes and I lost myself in the story, but as I finished off the last twenty percent of the novel, pushing the violence and intensity up another few notches, I kept seeing myself as a kid, living next door to Isaac for so many years, and receiving similar subconscious tricks of the mind, voices, telling me to go over there and try to show them a different way of thinking. And from deep in the back of my mind, as I typed out the last of my story, I could hear God telling me that I could have saved those people. Isaac had been so open-minded, peaceful, caring and ready to listen when we were kids, and I felt this was a lesson. It’s wrong for me to worry about offending the religious.

So yes, I have had a few profound experiences with God (this is only one example). Recognizing it as being a trick of the mind does absolutely nothing to reduce the emotional, intellectual and spiritual power of the experience. God can do some amazing things, bringing confidence and inner peace, but only when He is recognized consciously as fiction or an abstract concept. When God is applied as though he actually exists in the real world, we don’t get wild fantasy sci-fi novels, we get people like Isaac Zamora.

EVE novels and appreciation as currency

Today I got an email me telling me that someone mentioned my novel, Against a Rock, in a review on Amazon.com about The Burning Life, an official EVE novel released recently. Basically he said that people are better off reading my book. This put me in a good mood all day today, to know that the quality of my writing can hold its own against at least some professionally published works. I don’t know if I’m actually going to read The Burning Life… I suppose I should since I’m technically still writing EVE fiction, but judging from the fact that it hasn’t gotten any decent reader reviews on Amazon, and the fact that the first official EVE novel, Empyrean Age was pretty bad, it’s probably not gonna be worth it.

There’s a couple anarchistic viewpoints to be had from this. I feel significantly more motivated to sit down and write now since getting that free plug on Amazon. It’s amazing how far a little appreciation can go to getting a job done. It seems crazy that appreciation could replace currency as our primary motivation for getting things done, but once you get into something that you’re passionate about but doesn’t really make any money, like writing, art, open-source programming, running a website, volunteering, or political activism, you should be able to see how easily you can be motivated to accomplish things with little more than a sense that you’re having a positive affect on other people’s lives. Without currency I would certainly still be writing and programming.

The other thing I take from this is the familiar feeling that the better works are not being bubbled up to the top nor fairly represented. The books that get promoted are the ones by the people who know how to sell themselves, who are not always the most talented. It’s sad to know that so many talented artists have been lost in the shuffle because they didn’t know how to promote themselves or just didn’t get the right opportunity. I know that under real literary critics, Against a Rock would beat Empyrean Age and from what it sounds like, The Burning Life as well… but they’re the ones making the money.

I know this is a totally self-serving entry… perhaps this is my attempt to market myself more aggressively. Sometimes I feel I need to let my ego show a little more. 🙂

My latest Action-Adventure book: Against A Rock

Art by Areille (a character in EVE Online)

I recently moved my latest action adventure book from AgainstARock.com to this website to consolidate things. KalinBooks.com was in pretty shoddy shape before I did this whole WordPress thing, so I gave my book it’s own website, but that doesn’t make sense anymore.

I wrote this in 2008, after a five year hiatus. Writing an action adventure book was kind of a new thing for me, but I found myself falling in love with the genre, and now I think much of my strongest writing is in action, adventure and violence. The story is based on the video game, EVE Online, which I started playing back in 2006.

Writing this changed my life, though I suppose I could say that about numerous other things that have happened to me throughout the years.

I found myself getting in touch with parts of my mind that I had never explored before, most notably my love of war, violence and destruction. Years ago, I wanted to write about nothing but utopian societies without war or violence, because I so firmly believe that a society like this is completely possible, but unfortunately, it didn’t make for exciting literature.

So with this book, I decided to go full-on Action Adventure and violence, basically Die-Hard in space, but with a female lead, and I found myself exploring that sense of glory and satisfaction that we get from action, adventure and violence, and how it affects our society. One of the main themes of the novel is how human beings love violence and drama–we crave it; we can’t help ourselves–and how that drives our desire for war, criminal justice and discipline, and how we invent logical excuses and  pretend that it’s not our animal instincts that are driving these things that we, as a society are so convinced are completely necessary.

I also explored some other concepts…

So far my mom is the only person who has recognized that the relationship between the protagonist and her personal slave is a metaphor for how many people raise their children.

One of my favorite parts is when her slave recognizes that she has always loved him, but points out that she has never cared about him. I found that a fascinating concept, that people can deeply love someone, but ultimately not care if they’re happy or healthy. Part of the parenting metaphor.

I also explore religion, and how it affects our ability to commit violence. Our protagonist is deeply spiritual and uses God as a guiding light in the course of her mutiny. See if you can you find the Bible quotes.

And finally, I explore the concept of being half human and half machine. All my life I’ve wondered what it would be like, and have always wanted to write something like this, but never thought it possible. But now, possibly since scientists have already begun experimenting with connecting computers directly into people’s brains, sometimes with shocking success, I think I have a clear idea of what it would feel like to be half human and half computer.

But ultimately, this is an Action-Adventure novel, full of explosions, gunshots, laser fire, deadly drones, fist-fights, broken bones, screaming, crying, and of course, blood.