The first seed:
Back in the seventies, in New York, Lonnie Leonard was a psychiatrist whose patients included many students of Objectivism. He seduced several of his young female patients, using logic that was based in part on a twisted interpretation of Objectivist theories about romantic relationships. Eventually, this turned into a legal case, and then a book: Therapist, by Ellen Plasil. I'm not recommending the book. It blames Objectivism for something that was just another case of Crazy Therapy. I heard about it when it was first going on. I heard the arguments Dr. Leonard was using, arguments that a woman with a healthy sexual response would necessarily respond to HIM, since he was so damned psychologically healthy. It sounds ridiculous, of course. But needy patients have a strong tendency to idealize their therapists, so some bought his claims to perfection. What really disturbed me was the way his arguments twisted Objectivism's position on romantic love. He turned it into a defense of polyamory, with himself in a privileged alpha male position, a sultan with his worshipful harem. It all seemed wrong to me. My own bias was (and is) toward monogamy. So I began thinking about the issue seriously.
The major inspiration:
I read a book, Nightfall at Nauvoo, by Samuel W. Taylor, which told the story of the early days of the Mormon church. It especially focused on their tumultuous stay in Illinois, in the town of Nauvoo. Being an Illinois native, I of course knew that the church's founder, Joseph Smith, had been killed by an angry mob in Illinois. But I had no idea what the early history of the church was like. In the Illinois period, polygamy was being preached and practiced, but only secretly, among the inner circle. The town of Nauvoo was controlled by Joseph Smith, and for a brief period it became the largest town in Illinois. I found the whole story, loaded as it was with sex and violence, quite fascinating, and I began reading book after book about the Mormons. Although Mormons have long renounced polygamy, the religion is troubled by recurring fundamentalist splinter groups that revive features of their early days, including polygamy and rule-by-prophet.
The inciting incident:
I was working as a consultant on a project to write some new software for a huge company. One of the other consultants, let's call him Tim, had been on the project from early on, and was expected to play a key role. He was the only person who had experience in a certain programming language, and everyone on the team was expecting on him to lead the way with that part of the project. Well, one morning Tim announced that he was going out to get a haircut. And that was the last we ever saw of him. Eventually it turned out that he was going into some other kind of business completely. Anyway, we were angry, since we were left in the lurch, and one consultant in particular consoled himself by talking about how he would kick Tim's butt if he ever caught up with him. From this incident springs the opening scene of the novel, and the character of the book's hero.
I hesitate to do this, but:
Here are some notable novelists whose influence might show in my book. I'm mentioning this only because people are sometimes curious about influences.. Of course, good or bad, the writing remains my own.
Ayn Rand. At least a couple of my relatives think they see an influence. I'm a huge fan of hers.
Donald Hamilton. Author of the Matt Helm novels.
Gordon R. Dickson. For his early Dorsai novels, science fiction tales of interplanetary mercenaries.
Mickey Spillane. One of my friends claims to detect a stylistic resemblance.
Notes on the production of the book:
The front cover was done by Chris Whitten. The editing was courtesy of Anne Marie McCormack, who gave me valuable criticism and straightened me out on comma usage. (If you find any comma inconsistencies, I probably re-introduced them after she returned the text to me.)