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I’m heavily influenced by J Michael Straczynski’s writing. His 90s show Babylon 5 was formative for me in more ways than one, as has been much of his subsequent comics writing.
‘Senescence’ is riffing on two specific JMS endings: the bittersweet feel of B5’s Sleeping In Light and the story of Jason Miller in Rising Stars. In the latter case he’s a figure who goes to extraordinary lengths to make amends and change the world with serious personal consequences, and that was a feeling I wanted to capture at the end of Cal’s character arc.
I had a weird plot hole in this chapter when I wrote the first draft, as I opened it with Kay riding the lift up to the World’s Council building and being greeted by Cal at the top. It was presented as if this was the first time they’d seen each other in years – until I remembered that the only way Kay could have got to Red is by being taken by Cal. Sometimes made-up pseudo-science can get a bit knotty, or interfere with the dramatic intent, but it’s critical to define rules for your magic systems, otherwise the story becomes meaningless.
This chapter flashes forwards several years, so that we can see some of the consequences of what’s happened in the main story. It’s not a huge distance into the future, so it doesn’t wrap everything up neatly, but it’s enough to get a sense of things. The trick then was to deliver the information about what’s been happening without it feeling like an infodump. Hence it’s all wrapped around Kay and Cal meeting each other for the first time in a while (which in itself tells a story), giving them the opportunity to react off each piece of information just as the reader is doing. It then becomes more about their emotional reactions to events rather than the events themselves.
There was a lot to squeeze in. What Kay and Cal have been doing, of course, drives the chapter. But it was important to get Marv and Furey into it, as well. Wynton Simons, too, as he’d played an important role in the story in the first two arcs.
Aside from the character developments, there was also the shift in relations between Locque and Earth, and acknowledging that peace and progress is inconceivably hard and needs to be worked at constantly. Leading up to her big speech outside the Aviary, Kay was imagining that it would either go horribly wrong, with everyone dead or in prison, or it’d work and be an overnight transformation of society. The reality is that there’s no such clear cut lines in politics, and that it was going to be a long, drawn-out, hugely complex process, compounded by how each of the parties demonised the others.
While writing this chapter Brexit happened in the UK, with the referendum resulting in a tiny majority wanting to leave the EU. That drama continues to play out as I write this, but this chapter is definitely influenced by those real-world events, hanging off some of the prejudices and challenges that emerged.
Ultimately, A Day of Faces is about how two people react to the world they’re in. Kay never intended to influence anything and ends up changing multiple worlds, hopefully for the better. Cal has been driven by rage and revenge almost his whole life, having never had a place he could call home. In a direct attempt to change his world, he failed to create a home, but he did in turn inspire others – and they rose above him and found a greater purpose than his more selfish anger.
Kay never wanted power, which is why she’s the best candidate for the job. She’s tired and would rather go lie in bed all day, but that’s not going to stop her from doing everything she can to make the world a better place.
A Day of Faces was a complete experiment on my part, being the first time I’ve tried serialisation – let alone ‘live’ serialisation where I’m publishing as I’m writing. Writing the final words of the final chapter was a very strange feeling. What to do with my Mondays now?
I have several other stories bubbling in the pot, though I’m not yet sure which one I’m going to pull out and develop. I’ll definitely be serialising something new pretty soon but I’m going to focus on getting Arc 4 out as an ebook, and then potentially a print edition of the entire A Day of Faces story. That’d be a satisfying way to finish.
Thanks for reading, all.