Sunday, June 5, 2011

Backstory: "The Watchman"

First off, a bit of trivia: "The Watchman" wasn't the first story I had published overall, but it was the first story that someone actually paid me to publish.  The now-defunct Dragons, Knights, and Angels purchased one-time publication rights to this story back in July 2006 for $10.00 and published it a month later.  It was the first time that my dream of being a published, paid author had ever met with any sort of validation.  For that reason, "The Watchman" will always be special to me.  Incidentally, it is also the oldest/earliest of the fifteen in Zero Hour.

The idea for the story came from the ten plagues of Egypt, as was the case with "In the Shadow of the Sphinx."  I also revisit the theme indirectly in "Darkest Before Dawn."  Depending upon what translation of the Bible you use, this particular plague is either referred to as gnats or lice.  I went with gnats.  I wanted to set my story in Georgia, as I do quite often.  Here in Georgia, there is an imaginary boundary called the "gnat line."  Go south of it, and you will see exponentially more gnats than you will north of the line.  So pronounced is the problem that a minor league baseball team in Georgia has incorporated it into their name--the Savannah Sand Gnats.  So, to go with that setting, I figured gnats made more sense than lice here.

The decision to make my protagonist, Glenn Sanders, a newspaper editor was pretty easy.  I needed a way to give him inside knowledge of what was happening in his town, and a press pass seemed a simple way to do that.  Residential Aliens also published a sequel to this story, "The Widow Greer," using the same characters as Glenn grows into his role of Watchman.  You can find that story at

Finally, as for the role of the Watchman himself, it comes from Ezekiel 33:1-9, which reads, "And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, speak to the sons of your people and say to them, ‘If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows on the trumpet and warns the people, then he who hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head.  He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life.  But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.’  “Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me.  When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand.  But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life."  That makes for a sobering thought...are we telling people about Christ the way we should be?

Philippians 4:13.--SMS

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