Thursday, January 12, 2012

Backstory: "The Siege of Peter Marak" (Part 2)

For a long time, I've toyed with the idea of a character who isolates himself into his house as a defense against some sort of threat.  This character would then be approached by someone in dire need, thus presenting him with a choice: Protecting himself and thus sacrificing a bit of his humanity, or trying to help the person in need and then exposing himself to whatever it was that he feared so much in the first place.  After trying to make that idea work in other contexts, I finally found a home for it in "The Siege of Peter Marak."  The dilemma of whether to face his fear or save himself is the driving force of this story.

 In developing the characters of Langstrom and Harper, who represent the more tangible threat in the story, I thought that it was important to show them as not being much different from Peter at heart, save for an unfortunate choice on their part ("There but for the grace of God go I", as it were).  I also worked in an homage to one of my all-time favorite television shows from my childhood, The Incredible Hulk.  Kenneth Johnson, the show's producer, revealed in an interview that he wanted the Hulk's color changed from green to red because it was "the color of rage" and "a more human color."  The mental image of Lou Ferrigno painted red instead of green stuck with me, and that is basically how I chose to describe Angela's pursuers.  By the way, Langstrom's name is an homage to the character of Dr. Kirk Langstrom from Batman, better known as Man-Bat.

Speaking of names...Peter Marak is an homage to former Atlanta Braves pitcher Paul Marak.  In 1990, the last year of last-place baseball in Atlanta, Marak actually pitched reasonably well in seven games for the Braves.  However, when the team skyrocketed to the World Series in 1991, Marak was nowhere to be found.  He had (seemingly) dropped off the face of the earth...which I think in some roundabout way parallels the way Peter Marak withdrew after Holly's death.

I hope you've found this backstory to one of my favorite stories entertaining and informative.  Until next time, Philippians 4:13.--SMS

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