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SERENITY: The Lord’s Prayer


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For their part, the girls would have no idea where they were and would take pains to hide from the Japanese.  No big distress signals, no bonfires, no visible signs of human habitation.

Reconnaissance aircraft flying over the island would see no signs of people and, since both sides had cracked the other’s codes, they would know there was no enemy interest in Bidney Island so the girls would remain relatively safe.


Who were these girls and how did they would get there?

Well, they couldn’t be from the mainland USA or even Hawaii, that would make no sense.  How in the world would they end up on the other side of the Pacific?

World tensions the way they were,
nobody would fly students into a hot spot,
they would be flying them out.

That meant they had to start in the Philippines and be heading south to safety in Australia.  And they had to fly:  An aircrew could get killed easily but on a sinking ship there would be at least one sailor assigned to look after them on a lifeboat.

So…what are these all-American girls doing in the Philippines?

Obviously the children of diplomats, trade managers, oil company executives, etc.  People of privilege who could afford to bring their families halfway around the world back in the 1930s.

The school would cater to that class of clientele, though as often the case, the nuns running the school would be using it to fund another school for needy children in a rundown Filipino only neighborhood.

The girls in the school would all be white Americans or Europeans, certainly all English-speaking.

There would be one Filipino girl among them, an outsider.

As war tensions ratcheted up, their parents evacuated them to Australia, youngest girls first, until only one planeload of girls in their mid-to-late teens was left.

That would be the flight that got shot down on December 7th, 1941 (yeah, yeah, I know, I know, when the Japanese attacked the Philippines it was December 8th because of the International Dateline; it’s called artistic license, folks).

(to be continued)


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Found at SnokieStories-dot-com.

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This is why Google was invented.  A quick search revealed that every island capable of hosting a permanent human settlement had a permanent human settlement.

But what exactly constitutes a “permanent” settlement?

The answer proved to be 30,
perhaps as few as two dozen,
but then things got precarious.

You see, a permanent settlement is one capable of producing a stable self-perpetuating population:  There are enough adult females producing enough children to replace those who die from old age, disease, or misadventure.

30 seems to be the golden number; any fewer than that and one run of bad luck wipes out your chances of staying abreast of the death rate.  Your population can’t reproduce fast enough, the old soon out number the young, and eventually you die out or get absorbed by a larger band.

There are numerous islands in the Pacific too small to support a village that could support a smaller band, say ten members or less.

Slowly, the island itself started to come into view.

Bidney Island (I named it after my aunt who gave me the Swiss Family Robinson book) needed to be small and isolated.  It couldn’t be part of a larger chain or archipelago or else natives might drop by on occasion.

No problem, there are lots of small atolls, reefs, and islands in the Pacific that the South Seas Islanders use as fishing camps, staying a few weeks or a few months then returning to their permanent villages.

Such an island could support six to ten people indefinitely.  And with two vast fleets roaming the Pacific in search on one another, there was precious little incentive for any long range fishing trips by the Polynesians.

To work it had be far enough away from Australia to not be part of their network of coast watchers (civilians and military personnel who stayed hidden but scanned the seas for signs of Japanese ship movements; see Father Goose, yet another schoolgirls-shipwrecked-on-a-desert-island story only with the added attraction of Cary Grant and Leslie Caron).

But that would mean the island could be a potential target for either side, which would bring the story to a screeching halt whoever found the girls.

So Bidney Island had to have no military value.  That required a small, shallow lagoon, too tiny for large ships to harbor in.  It couldn’t be a flat atoll but needed a big volcanic cone right in the middle of it, making it useless as an airfield.

That wouldn’t keep the combatants away forever,
but it would make Bidney Island a very low priority for both sides.

(to be continued)


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As I said, I wanted my story to be easily relatable to contemporary readers.

A girl in 1812 inhabited a vastly different world technically and, as a result, culturally from a girl in 2012:
No cars, no airplanes, no supermarkets, no electricity, no TV, no Internet,  no telephones, no flush toilets.

But a girl on 1912 lives in a far more familiar culture:
Cars and planes (albeit primitive), electricity in most homes (ditto plumbing).  TV is still just a gleam in Philo Farnsworth’s eyes, but there are movies.  Radio is just beginning, but newspapers are linked by wire services.  No computers, but adding machines and typewriters exist so number pads and keyboards are everywhere.

And there are telephones.

Split the difference — 1962 — and not that much changes.  TV and radio, to be sure, but no Internet yet.  Still, most of the changes are in style and degrees; the world of 1962 is easily understandable to a reader in 2012.

Problem: You can’t lose a bunch of school kids in 1962, either.

Split the difference again — 1937 — and suddenly the solution presents itself.  World War Two, at least the Pacific portion of it, started December 7th, 1941.

Now we have a logical reason why no one comes looking for the girls:
All hell is breaking loose, and the loss of a handful of girls is just one more tragic drop in a bucket brimming with tears.

Problem: Every island worth fighting over was fought over.

This is why Google was invented.  A quick search revealed that every island capable of hosting a permanent human settlement had a permanent human settlement.

But what exactly constitutes a “permanent” settlement?

(to be continued)


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Found at SnokieStories-dot-com.

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Step one was determining who my characters were, which also meant determining when they lived.

I wanted them to be readily identifiable to my target audience (i.e., North American readers).  I have no problems re historical fiction, but I wanted my readers to feel familiar with my characters’ background so I could focus more tightly on the challenge of survival.

It’s awfully hard to lose a bunch of school kids in the 21st century.

They will be missed, somebody will come looking for them.

In Lord Of The Flies, William Golding handled the issue by integrating it into the core of his story:  Though never stated explicitly, the world his boys inhabit is engulfed in a great apocalyptic war.  The insane evil of nuclear brinksmanship was reflected in the deterioration of his characters’ civilized behavior.

Exploring the morality of nuclear war was not my intent; I wanted a story focused on survival, not conflict.

(Besides, it’s one thing to crib
the idea of kids shipwrecked on an island;
lots of books, movies, and comics have done that.
Using those kids as a metaphor for the collapse of
modern civilization is exclusively Golding’s idea.)

I briefly toyed with the idea of a great natural or astronomical disaster but quickly passed on that; I couldn’t see how the story could not be about the disaster instead of the desert island fantasy.

I use “fantasy” advisedly.  There’s no magic in Savage Angels, everything is within the realm of the possible.  But the idea of the desert island as a new Eden, as a place to begin again, to somehow Get It Right This Time holds a fascinating allure to writers and readers.

Then I wondered, what am I thinking about when I say “contemporary”?

(to be continued)

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I could backtrack a long ways to get to “the” origin of SAVAGE ANGELS, but let’s set our marker down here:

SERENITY started life as a monthly magazine concept; each issue would have a 45-page Serenity story, a couple of short stand alone stories, and an ongoing serial.

HITS & MISSES was supposed to be the first of those serials, Savage Angels was to be a follow-up.

Well, things changed.  Magazine publishing plunged into the toilet just as I started looking for partners so, finding no takers for a monthly mag, I went the original gn route.

…but that’s another story for another time.

Savage Angels came about during a long idea generating period where I was trying to come up with as many ideas as I could for the tween-to-teen / YA market (Angels is just the tip of the iceberg; wait till you see what we have on deck!).

I’ve always enjoyed shipwrecked-on-a-desert-island stories.  As a child, my grandmother and aunt gave me a wonderful slipcover edition of Swiss Family Robinson; I still have that book even though I almost read it to shreds while growing up.

And of course there’s the great-granddaddy of them all, Robinson Crusoe.

And Island Of The Blue Dolphins.

And even Gilligan’s Island.

And, probably most importantly re the origin of Savage Angels, Lord Of The Flies.

William Golding’s book is a harrowing tale of young boys stranded on an island descending into naked feral savagery.  It’s a kill-or-be-killed tale, and it does not offer a comforting view of humanity.

So I wondered, would the story have been any different if it was a group of girls, not boys?

…and the gears started turning.

(to be continued)

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Coming Soon From Snokie Stories…



Coming soon from Snokies Stories
Preliminary art (not final) by Drigz Abrot
Savage Angels (c) Buzz Dixon & Snokie

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Writing The Great American eNovel On My Smartphone: I Perform A Sex Change On An Indian


Things change, things stay fluid, things are in a state of flux.

It ain’t over ‘til it’s over, and the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley.

The Old Indian was in my story from the very beginning.

Years and years ago when I first began organizing my ideas for The Horse Story, I saw The Old Indian playing a brief but crucial role in the climax.

Mentally I cast Chief Dan George in the role.

And as will happen, on my way to the climax I started re-thinking some of my ideas.

This is a YA novel aimed primarily at female readers; I looked at my characters and, even though my four heroines were of the female persuasion, there was far too much testosterone in the rest of the cast.

So, easy enough to change:  Here and there, where logical, supporting characters got gender reorientation editing.

The last one to go under the metaphorical knife was The Old Indian.

I describe her thusly:

She could be 40 or 400.  She wears a black bowler style hat, a long sleeve tribal dress of vivid color and design, and — incongruously — hot pink running shoes.

Go figure.

You couldn’t do that with Chief Dan George.

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