Authors’ Commentary on “Revolutionary Justice”

Lawyers in Hell Authors’ Commentary on
»Revolutionary Justice,«
 a story in Lawyers in Hell

I came in through my friend ‘Mad’ Mike Williamson. Thought it would be a chance to maybe sell something to a well-known series; never imagined it would become a lot more than that. Although I didn’t know a whole lot about shorts.

Since I started writing seriously in the mid-`90s, I’d written ten or so novel-lengths. Maybe half as many again between 25-50K. But the the last time I’d written anything below 25K, the President was Bill Clinton and the World Trade Center stood tall. Maximum of 10,000 words? That’s two chapters. A complete story arc in that space? It’s fair to say I wasn’t at all confident in the form.

Lawyers in Hell Spent a lot of time playing with ideas, procrastinating. Eventually decided I’d dicked around enough; put words down, beat it into shape later. The first third or so of Revolutionary Justice was written in the six hours after that. Turned out not a whole lot of editing was needed anyhow.

Ironically, the main character – William Walker – was someone I’d originally claimed for Adventurers in Hell, not Lawyers. But he’d been a lawyer, and he was more interesting than any professionals I could think of...

Hell had had a revolution through the original series, too; something nominal led by Che Guevara that never seemed to really do much except get beaten up by more important characters. What if a serious group formed? That’s where the Committee came from. Basic insurgency principles, political competence – Saul Alinsky, author of Rules for Radicals, is a member; so is George Orwell – and every intention of overthrowing Satan.

Walker was a filibuster, not a revolutionary. But he was also an opportunist, and it made sense for him to be their field guy. And the conflict with Guevara was obvious.

Guevara had had a presence in the original series, a big presence, but never much of a personality; he was something the more important characters reacted against. Janet said at one point that he was an incompetent and a butcher, and she never had much use for him personally. I don’t have much more use for the real guy, but he was also an egoist and a romanticist.

Based his character on the ego and incompetence. Especially the ego, his defining trait to the point where I play it for comedy. For Guevara, the point of rebellion’s never been to win; the point of rebellion is the romanticization and adoration of Guevara.

Cobain wrote himself in without a whole lot of thought on my part. Guevara needed someone to talk to, Cobain seemed to just suggest himself, and I liked how they played off each other. In the end they were more fun to write than Walker.

Leo ChampionOriginally, Revolutionary Justice was going to be a lot longer. `60s anarchist Abbie Hoffmann was going to play a major role, and the thing would have been decided in front of a court of bigger, retired revolutionary figures. Then I realized that Walker’s brief experience as a lawyer was enough to qualify the story, and that 10,000 words was getting very close. What’s now the resolution sequence was originally going to be the end of the second act, bringing things to a head. Sharper and better this way, I think.

Fun story to write. Very entertaining universe to play in; I see Hell as having a lot of room for black humor, which is my type. (The greatest comedy – perhaps the greatest film – ever made, in my opinion, is Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove. Of course you laugh at nuclear holocaust, what else is it good for?) Looking forward to writing more in it – more Guevara/Cobain especially.
Revolutionary Justice, © Leo Champion; Perseid Publishing, 2011
2011© Lawyers in Hell (Janet Morris), 2011, all rights reserved

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