I discovered my character’s kindred spirit in the television show Narcos…
November 3rd, 2015
VKC is a pretty character-heavy series, and most of these personalities are not based on any particular real-life people. But there was a time in my writing where I thought to myself, “How exactly does one end up with $50 million in cash?” in reference to the founder of Koning House. Well, you know who has tons (literally) of dough lying around? Drug dealers, or more specifically drug lords like Pablo Escobar who generated so much money—billions upon billions—from his cocaine empire that he’d lose millions to the rats eating away at the stashed bills in his secret warehouses, and the amounts wouldn’t even put a dent in his fortune. The minor character of Brunie Bronck in my story is an amalgamation of the paranoia-filled Escobar and Dutchman Klaas Bruinsma—the suave founder of one of Europe’s largest cartels in the 1970s through to his death during a gun fight in the streets of Amsterdam in 1991.
Why I Don’t Consider the Virginia Kingdom Chronicles a Dystopian Novel…
July 12th, 2015
OK…maybe it can be considered post-apocalyptic, but I prefer the term Kingdom Drama. I was interested in writing about those born into the ruling party and their methods for maintaining control without resorting to a totalitarian dictatorship as is often the norm in dystopian stories. Governments are much more nuanced than the Big Baddie controlling all fates surrounded by blind believers. A queen or king or president or parliament cannot just give out orders and expect outright obedience. There are many factors to consider: senates and councils; placating the citizenry at all levels of society; rival nations plotting against you. Even during times of peace, there are always those within the inner circles vying to gain dominance for themselves. A good politician always considers these factors and needs to be vigilant. In my series, Virginia and Carolina rule their subjects in different capacities, and as the story progresses, flashbacks allow the reader to understand how these new kingdoms came to be as they exist in the 2190s.
Some Things About Me…
September 28th, 2015
I noticed that I do not have an author bio on this website, although I do on my Goodreads and Amazon profiles, so a little about me…
1. The Virginia Kingdom Chronicles: Book One is my very first completed novel, and my second attempt at writing one. My initial foray into writing occurred many years ago when I tried drafting a Lila Fowler-centric Sweet Valley High book that I had seriously planned on sending to Francine Pascal, the creator of the series. I always found Lila the most under-rated character despite her portrayal as the local “nouveau rich snob,” and looking back my pursuit was obviously pure fan-fiction. As I type this, I just realized that there are some similarities between Lila Fowler and Elise Koning, a main character in the VKC series. Huh…
2. I work in a bi-partisan position for the government in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is interesting to observe how quickly power goes to people’s heads, and how an otherwise normal person’s sense of self-importance can escalate into monster-level behavior. And I’m not going to lie; it is equally compelling (and self-satisfying) to watch people fall back down to earth.
3. I love reading all types of genres: science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, YA contemporary…although once I discover a new series or author that really grabs me, I tend to read all the books in one go, like the Accursed Kings Series by Maurice Druon or Nele Neuhaus’s excellent German investigative crime series.
Pablo Escobar as played by Wagner Moura
Fun Fact: According to IMDB.com, the actor, Ernesto Alcade, is an actual production accountant on many a show including The Americans and Royal Pains. While viewing his scene, the first thing that popped into my head was, “Hey! That’s Espen Koning! That’s my character!” Espen Koning is drug lord Brunie Bronck’s top accountant during the 80s and 90s until he decides to steal a boatload of cash from a Dutch warehouse. In a later episode of Narcos,
Escobar’s accountant is arrested by the Colombian authorities. Espen, however, escapes with an entirely different fate.
P.S Watch Narcos
Europe in the Year 2190
August 31st, 2015
I thought designing a map of Europe in the year 2190 would be a rather simple task until I realized that not only did I need to draw in the lines of the countries and territories relevant to the VKC series, but I’d also need to fill in the rest of the map including the tip of North Africa. If one takes a gander at a world map from one hundred, or even fifty years ago, we can see the border shifts that have occurred due to wars, dictatorships, the rise of independent nations and the fall of colonialism and communism. In VKC, I had to plan this “modern” European map while taking into account the Black Harvest and how different regions might turn out, essentially creating a “future history” for the entire continent. Some of these domains marked on this map will have a direct impact on Virginia, and I believe it’s important to visualize the new borders as what happens in Europe doesn’t always stay in Europe…
The Original Koning House
July 24th, 2015
And please excuse my amateur camera skills. The official residence of the Koning family was inspired by the National Ballet School of Canada located in downtown Toronto. I have a perfect view of the building from my friend’s balcony, and I’ve spent many an hour staring at and modifying the architecture in my head; reimagining an old farmhouse ensconced in a glassy palace. Plus watching the dancers through the windows is pretty cool too.
Now if you haven’t seen Narcos depicting Pablo Escobar’s life in Colombia and the American DEA officers tracking him down, you simply must. This utterly compelling television series is produced by Netflix, and in Agent Steve Murphy’s opening dialogue, he talks about the magical realism of his foreign journey. Details and names have been changed due to the fictional narrative of Narcos, and there is a complete omit of Robert Escobar, brother to Pablo and chief accountant for the Medellin Cartel. Yet in episode two, there is a string of scenes depicting the cartel digging holes and buying up warehouse space to hide their money, including a brief spot featuring this man: Pablo’s “accountant” pouring over an intricate map of money hideaways.
July 18th, 2015
Let’s talk about titles, and I don’t mean book titles. Throughout VKC, certain members of the nobility are referred to as “my lady” or “my lord.” Many in the future kingdom of Virginia strive to obtain a baronship along with the banner of Baron or Baroness.
I work in a building where employees thrive on their titles. People LOVE their titles. Tempers flare quickly when an “Honorable” is inadvertently absent from office door signage. A missing title is noticed. There is an aura of expectation that when called by one’s special salutation, respect is automatically voiced. It’s why a lot of companies are inundated with vice-presidents. And how many politicians look in the mirror and mouth, “Mr. President?” The less aspiring simply aim for Senator, Congresswoman, or Minister.
We cannot forget about doctors…I dare you to say, “I need a refill on my prescription, Mrs. Sussman,” on your next visit. In my opinion, dear sir or madam, I do not believe reverting to such time worn terms is out of the realm of possibility given the circumstances that occur in my book. After all, the title “Senator” was once considered extinct after the fall of the Roman and Byzantine empires.
Welcome to my website dedicated to my new series, The Virginia Kingdom Chronicles!
The idea for this trilogy came after hearing a friend admit he’d recently lost all interest in reading. I countered that if I wrote a book, then he’d have no choice but to read it. Hence, a simple idea that arose on his balcony took on its own life, and the story could not stay contained within one book. What I think readers, especially young adults, might find interesting about this particular series is that it is written in third person with the point-of-view of many a character in a vast range of ages and personalities which makes for a more rounded and complete account of events occurring in the burgeoning Virginia kingdom. Because this is such a complex story, I welcome all questions and feedback which I will be happy to answer and even post. I hope you enjoy reading about the world of 2190 as much as I did writing it.
Why Virginia? Why Not Connecticut? Why Not Tennessee?
July 7th, 2015
In choosing a location for my story, I originally envisioned the Konings teaming up with recruits from the West Point Military Academy during the Black Harvest. I always assumed the academy was located in Virginia since the Pentagon and CIA headquarters are located in that state too—forgive me, I am Canadian so my geography might be a little off. Upon further investigation, I discovered that the famous military academy actually resides in New York, but the locale of West Point, Virginia where the Mattaponi and Pamunkey rivers meet at the start of the York River flowing out to the Atlantic was just too perfect a venue for the story to give up. There’s plenty of farmland, great shipping routes, and infrastructure-wise, the town would be much easier to rebuild after long-term abandonment in the aftermath of worldwide agriculture blight. And hence, a new kingdom was born…
July 30th, 2015
I will be off on a cottage vacation for the first week of August enjoying some reading and sangria-drinking and campfire sitting. Internet access is available only if one drives into “town” and parks next to the small two-room library in order to hit up their free wifi, which leaves plenty of free time to dig into my waiting pile of books. Here is my planned to-read list in no particular order: Pretending To Be Erica- Michelle Painchaud I Don’t Know What You Know Me From- Judy Greet House of Leaves- Mark. Z. Danielewski Killing Monica- Candace Bushnell An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth- Chris Hadfield Will be back soon!
The real life Klaas Bruinsma