Authors’ Commentary on “Plains of Hell”

Lawyers in Hell Authors’ Commentary on
»Plains of Hell,«
 a story in Lawyers in Hell

How Plains of Hell Came About
As a longtime fan of shared-world collections I was thrilled to participate in the re-launch of the Heroes in Hell franchise. So, my first order of business was brushing up on some of the original books to acquire a feel for the subject matter, as well as poring over extensive background documents.  Once acclimatized, it was time to conjure a plot and populate it with characters.

Fortunately, that part proved easy. 

Lawyers in Hell Being Canadian, I wanted to inject an international slant for the readers, and after tossing around some historical events, settled on the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.  Historically, this was a pivotal battle during the Seven Years War, pitting England against France for control of New France, and ultimately, control of Canada. 

Once I had established the overall theme, selecting its primary combatants proved simple.  On the English side I chose General James Wolfe, commander of the British forces, and for the French I selected Louis-Joseph, the Marquis de Montcalm, commander of the French.

Next, to satisfy one of the main themes of Lawyers in Hell, I had to come up with a legal reason for the battle to be revisited.  That problem resolved itself nicely in the form of an incident on the night before the actual battle itself.  I used that incident as the premise for Montcalm’s bizarre request.  In his mind, the English ‘cheated’.  

With that out of the way, I decided it would be impossible for all of the original participants – the soldiers from both sides – to participate.  What if some of them actually made it to heaven?  Working under that assumption, I came up with the idea of using ‘revenants’, creatures drawn from English folklore.  But, since revenants were essentially mindless creatures, I had to have real-life characters issuing the orders necessary to lead these ‘soldiers’ into combat.  For that I selected John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough, and his partner-general-in-crime Prince Eugene of Savoy.  These famous generals, the greatest of their era, would work for Wolfe and the English.  On the French side the Marquis de Montcalm had Marshall Ney, Count Tilly and General Longstreet.  Now, the savvy reader probably detects an imbalance in numbers: the French have four commanders to the English three.  Well, the English have a fourth, but that is all I will say about that without spoiling a key element of the story.

Writing General Wolfe was a great deal of fun.  Placing him in hell gave me the opportunity to have his character to explore themes like denial, loyalty and trust, as well as his maddening attempts to come to grips in a place that systematically defies the rules of logic and reason.  Utilizing John Churchill and Eugene of Savoy as the friends in real life that they were, served as an anchor for Wolfe’s disbelief in a situation not of his choosing.  Having Wolfe form a bond with these kindred spirits was just plain common sense – a pair of guardians watching over a newborn and teaching him the ways of the world. 

This triumvirate worked so well for me that I would be remiss if I did not explore their relationship in future stories.  So stay tuned, and enjoy the ride that is Lawyers in Hell.
Plains of Hell, © Bruce Durham; Perseid Publishing, 2011
2011© Lawyers in Hell (Janet Morris), 2011, all rights reserved

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