Friday, January 25, 2013

Come Voltron and Osiris

The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn and The Son Dial Tone were not always linked together as stories. It took time and a grand realization that the two stories fit perfectly.

The stages of The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn went from a simple line that was supposed to be in a line of poetry (composed in 1998) to a title of something, anything, maybe even a poem. Then I ultimately came up with a plot after I heard a guy on television compare modern jazz players to Jedi Knights. He said that as more people turn to computers to make music, here are these cats who walk into cities trained in the old arts of music. Their horns or instruments were like their lightsabers—archaic weapons of a civilized age. I heard that and a light bulb went off. This was either 2000 or 2001.

Regardless, I grabbed a pen and pad and started jotting down ideas. Most of what you read as the plot was created from that. Give or take a direction or two. The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn started as a screenplay. I wrote about 35 pages. Much of that 35 pages went into just the first chapter. The rest remained as notes and sat in the back of my mind until around late May of 2001. It was then when an associate of mine wanted to make a push into making short films. Out of that session came no films, but there did come a good deal of stories that would make up 12 Stories High. I also went back to the ideas I had for The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn. I remember one night pacing back and forth in my room and going over a final scene, a confrontation between protagonist and antagonist for the script. I wanted to keep some of the ideas for that final confrontation in the final book, but it ended up going completely different. I took notes that night, made some changes to the 35 pages I had, and left the script alone to focus on the current project I was working on called Still Remains (which ended up being one of the stories in 12 Stories High). I would revisit The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn in 2004, making some revisions to the introduction of the script), and then, late that same year is when The Son Dial Tone was attached to it, or at least I started thinking about the two stories together.

But going back, and running parallel with putting together The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn, there came the idea for The Son Dial Tone. The idea for this epic poem came out of a brainstorm session in '99 when I was putting together the elements to make up the story of The Ronin Poetz. There were too many ideas to force into The Ronin Poetz. Everything that I felt couldn't be in the story (especially one I was intentionally trying to keep short), and if the idea was good, it went into a place titled 'future reference'. It was in these days of brainstorming for The Ronin Poetz (and as I was writing the epic poem as well, realizing some ideas didn't fit in structurally to the story) that I decided I would create no more than four epic poems. Each would be with a different theme.

Okay, let me rephrase that.

Each epic poem would express the same theme of rebellion differently.

That's far more honest.

2 Enlighten the G.O.D.Z. was not the original 'second' epic poem. 2 Enlighten the G.O.D.Z. was set to be the fourth and final epic poem. An outline to the plot for 2 Enlighten the G.O.D.Z. was strung together. Simple notes. The second epic poem was titled What the Ego Said and How the Id Replied. There's a slight nod to it in The Son Dial Tone and 2 Enlighten the G.O.D.Z. The title and a few stanzas were taken or alluded to. The Son Dial Tone was always set to be my third epic poem. The idea was always there. I always wanted a piece that focused on American slavery, slave rebellions, and music. The Ronin Poetz fight against oppression takes place in a dystopian future with references to slavery. 2 Enlighten the G.O.D.Z. 'enslavement' was a commentary on the prison/education system. There was nothing that dealt directly with African enslavement in America. And with things like Negro Spirituals and the stories of mass rebellion and the creation of Capoeira, there was so much to tell and bring to light.

I considered What the Ego Said and How the Id Replied too esoteric. I put it aside, and ideas for 2 Enlighten the G.O.D.Z. started flooding my head. I composed that epic poem instead, and from those brainstorming sessions that carved out 2 Enlighten the G.O.D.Z.'s plot, also came the idea for the true fourth and final epic poem. I knew The Son Dial Tone would move up in the line to be composed third (at one point I was believing that I would return to What the Ego Said and How the Id Replied, but the idea was scrapped). 2 Enlighten the G.O.D.Z. was finished late December 2001, and I've been meaning to get that thing on the shelves ever since. Lol! 2013 could possibly be there year.

But, between the end of composing 2 Enlighten the G.O.D.Z. in 2001 and 2004, I pieced together some poetry that would fit into the story of The Son Dial Tone. The main character's birthing scenes were composed first. Then I went back and composed the scenes between Mother Harmony and Father Voice (their first two meetings in two different lifetimes). Luckily the notes to those meetings, which contained the best junks of the poetry, were composed in a different notebook from the final pieces. The second notebook was lost on a travel in 2006. But the best, most complex ideas were preserved in a rough form. I was playing fill in the blank when I was composing those sections in 2011.

In 2005, while putting together the stories that would makeup 12 Stories High, I played with the idea that one of the stories would be The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn. I always considered that The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn to be a short 90 minute film, or a novella. This was when the story wasn't as fleshed out. I felt it could be included into 12 Stories High. But as I was taking old ideas (most of which were stalled short scripts for short films), I realized that The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn and The Son Dial Tone both dealt with music as one of their central themes. I took a cue from an old video game, Final Fantasy VIII. In that game, two stories run parallel. I wasn't too sure when playing the game if it was another lifetime or what because the main protagonists experience this part of the story in a dream, but the two stories eventually merge and all is revealed. It wasn't a past life, but a psychic connection between the characters. I reflected on my assumption of this game and said that the two stories would work together as the main characters' past lives. Both stories were put aside as I composed 12 Stories High, Code-47, and A Company of Moors.

During Code-47's writing and editing, I thought about life after writing A Company of Moors. The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn was on the list, with The Son Dial Tone attached to it still. But I was still aiming to have The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn be a short novella, 150 pages or so. The epic poem would add possibly another 70-100 pages. I started drawing parallels between the main characters of each. Kimoyo from The Son Dial Tone became Mojuba Kimoyo. Both 'names' are aspects of the word mojo. I brought the female plantation mistress, Sarah Pantomime, front-and-center. I made her name a nickname given to her by the slaves of the plantation, calling her Sarah the Pantomime. Of course, this is never spoken in front of her, as it's to make fun of her. But her actual name became Sarinda Fallows. And because A Company of Moors and Code-47 were so testosterone driven with their main male antagonists, I made Sarinda Fallows (a female) the villain for The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn. None of the male antagonists of the other stories can touch how hateful, evil, devious and wicked this woman can be. Her terrible, hate-filled-heart has been around too long to change and be good.

Sarinda can fake it though. Devious.

All character names in the original, unfinished screenplay for The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn was changed. The main villain of the script was split into two characters. One brutal and cunning, the other...dormant. He has a genuine smile for now. But, even the time period changed. The story went from modern day to 1957 (of course, arcing back to 1917, 1933, '34, '37, and Colonial American slavery). New characters were added, and the story and mythos was fleshed out to what can be read and enjoyed now.

The grand composition started late March 2011. Putting the elements of the original, unfinished script into the first chapter was a challenge. I almost jumped straight to a project I won't be touching until far down the line. But I stuck to my guns. When the first chapter for The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn came to a close, I was satisfied and inspired to continue with the rest of the ideas scripted, noted, and outlined. The Son Dial Tone makes its first appearance in chapter 3, when Horatio Peters is able to finally play his father's mystical compositions through a magical horn. From there, arrogantly I shall express, I take you again (dear reader) on another imaginative trip.

More to come...

b write black

Sunday, January 13, 2013

"The mystic chords of memory..."

Part of the hero's journey in The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn is Horatio Peters' journey into a past life through a song first composed by his father Pete Peters.

The Son Dial Tone. This is my third epic poem. Yes. You read that correctly. This means that the third epic poem was published before the second epic poem. But there was a bit of a cheat code in that it's featured in The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn, serving as the past life for the Peters family and the three generations of Amat women from Water Bug Hollow, Louisiana.

The Son Dial Tone is but the tip of the magic iceberg inside The Ghost of Gabriel’s Horn.

Read more about The Son Dial Tone's story here at the new Twin Griffin Book's landing page. And then explore The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn to see how prose and poetry come together as parallel stories and lives.

b write black.