Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Peek inside “Custody Battle” by Charlie Kenmore

Many authors will tell you that their characters talk to them. Mine don’t. (No, girls. This isn’t a Seven Realms article. You have no business here. Why don’t you go on another Power Pack Girls adventure? Do I have to count? One. Two....Thank you.) My computer keyboard is another matter. It has no problem mocking me. It sits there, ready and willing to work when it knows full well that my Muse is on vacation.

I usually keep a couple of works in progress. If I don’t feel like working on one project, I usually just work on the other one. One unusual afternoon (unusual because it was one of the few afternoons this year where my grad student daughter was in town), I’d managed to write nothing at all on either of my ongoing works in progress. My daughter looked up from her laptop and suggested that I write something entirely different. Epiphany! I could try a literary sorbet to clear my blocked writing palate.

I decided to head over to DuoTrope,, a wonderful source for who wants what for wordsmiths. I found a call for submissions for a superhero themed anthology about a Dark Carnival that was coming to Cobalt City, hometown to many such heroes. The stories could be about existing characters in Cobalt City story lines, or a new character of the author’s devising. I picked the former, and chose to write about Dr. Shadow.

Writing about Dr. Shadow presented a couple of unique challenges. The principal challenge was learning all about Dr. Shadow. He wasn’t my character, after all. Someone else created his powers, virtues and foibles. I learned that Dr. Shadow is an ancient, very powerful mage. His origins go way back to halcyon days of Set. Over his many years, he has acquired some powerful magical accoutrements in addition to his formidable command of the arcane arts. His eyes are photosensitive. Not too shabby for a first date.

Now it was my turn. The second challenge was finding some reason for Dr. Shadow to bother with the Dark Carnival at his age. I glanced over at my daughter (who had returned her full attentions to her laptop), and a plot line formed out of the enshrouding creative mists. Dr. Shadow’s daughter was trapped at the Dark Carnival! Conspiracies, secret meetings behind closed doors, dark secrets held in petto, arcane formulae that produce the desired results regardless of the facts, stupefying pronouncements that defy logic--Dr. Shadow was going fight the Dark Carnival in Family Court for the custody of his daughter!

Crap! My keyboard mocked me again. Willing suspension of disbelief will only carry a story for so long before it has to stand on its own merits. Although it’s often said that truth is stranger than fiction, no one, who hasn’t experienced it first hand, would believe half of the guano that I’ve seen in Family Court. Still, the kernel of the story was in hand. It just needed some minor tweaking.

Step one--set aside personal conviction not to demonize the opposition. That works. For purposes of the story, it’s acceptable to demonize the daughter’s mother. Bazinga! She’s a powerful demon. Now Dr. Shadow has a fight on his hands worthy of his abilities.

Step two--set the stage. Having abandoned the surreal circus setting of the court room, the next best thing was a carnival midway attraction. That works. Pitch a tent. Throw up a couple of mystical impediments to Dr. Shadow’s entrance to show off some of his abilities. Introduce daughter. Bring on mommy dearest. Let Dr. and mommy fight it out, tooth and tail.

Step three--write a guest blog for Alexx Momcat as a thinly veiled promotion for “Custody Battle”, appearing in Cobalt City: Dark Carnival from Timid Pirate Press.

Excerpt from “Custody Battle”

Standing naked in the cold pre-dawn mist, he placed one amulet in each hand, and closed his eyes. The timing was critical. He had to invoke the spell at the exact moment that was neither night nor day. The cloud cover made no difference. He did not have to watch for the sun. The countdown was based on the pressure building behind his eyes. Three. Two. One. In a tongue so old he doubted it was human in origin, he whispered, "Schi^iich^aagakha." A line of fire sliced through his center, pulling him apart in perfect bilateral symmetry. But like a single cell undergoing cytokinesis, his entire body duplicated itself, replacing the missing halves, until two identical Dr. Shadows stood side by side. They turned to each other, and said simultaneously, "Hello, handsome."

Cobalt City Dark Carnival

Mayhem stalks the midway as the malevolent Carnaval Pomme D'or returns to the super-hero metropolis of Cobalt City. Legends claim this mysterious and dark carnival has ties to Lafayette, one of the city's earliest heroes. Some say it is a force of nature, a danger that can only be endured but never defeated. Back for the first time in a generation, it brings mystics and monsters concealed beneath a veneer of greasepaint and faded canvas. Nothing less than the soul of the city is at stake. Do the assembled super-heroes of Cobalt City have what it takes to challenge the forces of chaos? What chances do a lovelorn cat woman, industrialist family man, evolved panda, ancient sorcerer, dead jazz musician, and renegade cupid stand against an evil that has persevered for centuries?

Thanks for the great teaser Charlie!


  1. Wow this is really exciting stuff!!! Can't wait to read it!!!!

  2. Yep, writers have to make sure a character's motivations are clear. Love you comment regarding your keyboard! Mine mocks me often...too often.