Tim Marquitz is is the author of the Demon Squad series, the Blood War Trilogy, co-author of the Dead West series, as well as several standalone books, and numerous anthology appearances including Triumph Over Tragedy, Corrupts Absolutely?, That Hoodoo Voodoo that You Do, Widowmakers, At Hell’s Gates 1&3, Neverland’s Library, Blackguards, SNAFU Survival of the Fittest, Future Warfare, and Hunters (Cohesion Press), In the Shadow of the Towers (Night Shade), and Unbound (Grim Oak Press). Tim also collaborated on Memoirs of a MACHINE, the story of MMA pioneer John Machine Lober. Tim is co-owner and Editor in Chief of Ragnarok Publications.
by Tim Marquitz
People are drawn to the idea that a powerful being—or beings—resides somewhere just out of the reach of our senses, guiding and shaping our existences. Without arguing the specifics of faith, this construct serves the psychological purpose of comforting, emboldening, or validating (among thousands of other attachments) personal beliefs and feelings. For many, it lends a sense of reason to the journey of existence and brings some measure of order to the chaos.
It’s no different for characters in fiction, especially seeing how their source derives from the writer. Authors create gods for much the same purpose as mankind does, to provide their world with the explanations that cannot be readily fathomed, to define the incomprehensible, and to give some meaning the vagaries of life that’s beyond us.
This interaction alone is a valuable tool in building a fictional environment. It allows an author to envision the boundaries of morality in the world and nature of day to day life for their characters. Much can be accomplished when the systems of religion and faith are put into play. It allows an author to determine good and evil and where to draw the line between; morality. In essence, divinity is the foundation upon which the rest of the story unfolds.
In my own work, the Demon Squad, I chose to do the opposite. Rather than define a system of divinity, I took one away.
The series is loosely based on the Christian mythos. By choosing to borrow rather than create, I imbued my fictional world with a system that is already in place, already well-practiced and understood. I then kicked the legs out from underneath it by pulling God out of the equation. In doing so, the expectations and understanding were wiped away. No longer could the reader rely on the goodness of angels or the evil of devils or the hope of salvation. The entire world was washed in a coat of gray as the previous boundaries and restraints no longer exist. The rules people have been raised to know by rote are gone. In one fell swoop, the foundation of the Demon Squad world toppled.
What that does for my fiction is that it allows a broader range of interpretation for the characters yet still binds the reader to certain expectations. This allows me to do the unexpected with the characters because there’s always a measure of uncertainty built into the atmosphere of the story. It also gives me greater leeway to re-define biblical figures to better suit my storytelling designs. The historical and defined aspects of these beings (be they gods or otherwise) provides me with enough data to better manipulate the reader the direction I believe they should go, whether the intent is to direct or mislead them.
At the end of the day, divinity of all kinds provides opportunities for a writer to define their world, to make it theirs whether they choose to create gods from the ground up or borrow from existing belief structures. And like real life, when they are competing gods or religion involved, an author is sure to find conflict to exploit.
Check out Tim’s kickstarter for the 10th Demon Squad novel below and on Kickstarter.