Author's Notes 'n' Things(Warning - long author-type rambling follows. Abandon ship now if you bore easily!)
I think I should have called this story "Topsy," because that's what it "growed like."
Dan says nobody will get that reference, but I think that's because his cultural literacy extends more toward song lyrics and old comic strips than anything else.
Crossfire has three distinctions that make it kind of a landmark for me: it's the longest thing I've ever written (at least up until very recently), the fastest thing for its size I've ever written (I started it on January 18 and finished it on March 4), and the first story I ever wrote that had a full complete outline. Usually I just sit down and start writing with only a vague idea of where I'm going and where I'm going to end up. I have stacks of stories that were never finished because they wandered off and lost their way somewhere among the bunnies in my head.
Let me tell you: those outlines are liberating. Just recently on a mailing list I'm on, one of my all-time favorite authors, Jacqueline Lichtenberg (who's an absolutely wonderful person, a fantastic author, and someone who's always happy to help out amateur writers trying to improve) discussed just this very thing: get the outline down to describe the plot, and then you can have fun building the story around it. And that is where the fun is. If you know where you're going, you can let your characters take over and tell you their story with only a minimum of reining them in to make sure they stay on track. It's sort of like watching a movie.
I started this story with two goals: to write something over 200 pages, and to shut Gabriel--who insisted on having his tale told--up.
As far as the 200 pages goes, that's all Shapcano's fault. :) If you haven't checked out his great Shadowrun fiction yet, please do yourself a favor and do so. You'll be glad you did. More than anything else, his work (both for its quality and sheer volume!) and his ongoing encouragement has spurred me on to try to stretch myself as a writer. I knew the story I wanted to tell, but I wasn't sure if I had something that would go that long--that's why I sat down and did the outline. Wow, was I wrong! I should have believed Dan when he said it would get close to 300. Somewhere along the line I went from a kid who couldn't get a story to go past 10 pages to a fraggin' blabbermouth! Not that I'm complaining, mind you.
As for Gabriel, he's been around awhile. I think he first turned up in 1994, where he started out as the fixer for the team in my Shadowrun game. His character came into being for two reasons: I wanted a mysterious figure as a fixer, and I read Ryoichi Ikegami's "Sanctuary" manga and discovered Akira Hojo. Although the personalities are in no way similar (and Gabriel isn't Japanese), I always picture someone who looks like Hojo when writing about Gabriel. I was intrigued by the concept of someone that young and "beautiful" with such far-reaching power, so I decided to come up with a similar character for my campaign. I admit to being a bit dismayed when I read Tom Dowd's "Wyrm Talk," because I was convinced that I was original (at least in the Shadowrun universe) in my concept of a beautiful young man hiding a Great Dragon in disguise, but that's okay. There's nothing new under the sun, I guess. Besides, they're not much like each other, and Gabriel's still alive. :)
I wanted to acknowledge some people for their encouragement, support, and general putting-up-with-my-obsession, and then I'll shut up. This thing is getting too long as it is.
- First, as always, Dan. Not only for his patience beyond the call of duty with my spending every spare minute at the computer, but also for all those nights (mostly at Red Lobster, for whatever odd reason) helping me hash out my plot and exorcise my continuity errors. Not to mention the marathon photocopying session...
- Shapcano, for continued encouragement and inspiration. Thanks, my friend, for all those wonderful feedback notes. They mean a lot to me.
- Steve Rosenau, the creator and player of ShadoWraith, for encouragement, lots of long e-mails about character motivation, and for letting 'Wraith play in my story.
- Ken Wilson, creator and player of Joe, for letting Joe out to play too.
- Bob, Doug, and Jim, for playing in my game and (unknowingly) helping me flesh out Gabriel and Kestrel all these years.
- DeckerM, for lots of encouraging emails while this beastie was being posted. Check out her serial "Briar"-- it's great!
- Fran White, creator and maintainer of the excellent Swamp Thing TV Series web page, for general encouragement (if you like Swamp Thing, be sure to surf by her page-- she's got some great fanfic posted.) Oh--I almost forgot: thanks to Fran for naming Stefan's corporation for me.
- Everyone who has sent me comments, suggestions, or encouragement. It's made me very happy to see how many people seemed to be enjoying this thing. That's why I do this, after all! (That, and I can't stop.) Particular thanks (and a virtual Evil Chuckle) to all the folks who sent me variations on "Arrgh! You @#$%^&!" at the end of chapter 34. :)
- Toad the Wet Sprocket, Loreena McKennitt, the various artists of the "Strange Days" soundtrack, the Alan Parsons Project, Eric Woolfson, Peter Gabriel, and Rush, for providing inspirational background music. :)
Hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it! Please send me feedback --good, bad, or indifferent. (Nissan guy voice) Rats *love* feedback! (/Nissan guy voice) Tell me what ya liked, what ya didn't, and what you'd like to see more of.
And oh yeah: if you liked this one, be sure to check back soon for the sequel, "Inner Demons." You don't think I'd let Gabriel and Stefan off *that* easily, didja? :)
March (and September) 1998