The Real World and Fiction

I see that the local semi-feral peacock flock has added four chicks to its number this year. Probably more, but these are the hens that hang out around my house on a regular basis.

I think.

They’re hard to tell apart.

Some of the peacocks have slightly distinguishing markings, as my neighbor started his flock with what I’ve always thought of as “peacocks” (and have since been informed that they’re “India Blues”) then added a few unusual types–black (spectacular) and white (shows the dirt). Add a few generations of random breeding and one can still spot an occasional white feather, or specs of black invading the standard speckled areas as you can see from my old horse’s buddy there.

This observation is useful in writing, because your main characters need to stand out from the flock.

Sometimes not immediately, but as they rise to the challenge they become something more.

Some of my characters shine physically, but all of them are smart, unlike peacocks who are dumber than chickens. No really. I’ve never had to tape plastic across the bottoms of my windows to keep the idiot roosters from violently assaulting their reflections.

In my main series, my POV characters started out as a mixed bag. Genetically engineered to be smarter, faster, taller, better looking . . . But they were the floor models. The proof of concept that had prospective parents thinking about fixing a few genetic problems, and while they were at it, maybe taller, smarter . . . or the perpetual Girl Gymnast body type . . . or with purple hair.

But the POV characters had had everything added to a framework that passed the legal definition of a lab animal. No matter what they looked like, they weren’t really human. They stood out from the flock in a very negative way, and the first book in that series is how they escaped.

Series? It really depends on how you define “series.” I don’t have an over-arching problem that never seems to get resolved in less that eight books. In fact, while some make a lot better sense when read in order, most problems get solved in one or two books.

I jump to new characters, regularly. And invent new Evil Empires to destroy–did I mention that instead of spaceships I went with dimensional portals?

Yes, now instead of trying to explain FTL, my characters just step through a dimensional gate and straight into trouble without having to buy a ticket off the planet. Yes, gates are a logistical nightmare for an invading force, which fact get used on occasion.

And I try for a variety of problems to throw at my characters. Problems shouldn’t all look the same, either. An occasional serious change up (or down) keeps the series fresh.

“Hey, Ice! In this book you get to meet your girlfriend’s four older brothers! Better be at the top of your game for this one, Buddy.”

“Nooooo! Not that!”

All right, the brothers weren’t the main story problem, which was politics, which would have been a bit boring, if not for the assassins, the backpack nuke, and the big running gunfight with Cyborg soldiers and their Mentalist masters . . .

I enjoy writing my books. I suspect it shows, as it well should. I mean, what would be the point of writing, otherwise?

And if I pull my heroes and heroines way beyond the flock’s average, well, what do you expect of the people tasked with saving the Multiverse?

If I’ve intrigued you . . . well, if you’re a completist and want to start at the beginning:

 

 

 

 

Or if you want to dive in cold and hear about the Four Big Brothers, that’s this one.

Yes, it says fifty-two. I don’t believe it either.

Enjoy!

20 comments

  1. I knew a lady out in Sacramento with a ranch infested with the peafowl. We joked about starting a KFP franchise to get rid of them. Not long before she dropped offline (addictive behavior so she went cold turkey) a Chinese man asked about acquiring a bird or two via purchase and she told him, if he was to catch them and they could have them all.
    over a few weeks he and family members came by and caught as many as they could haul off and eventually got all the pesky things.
    I miss her greatly. Knowing her tastes, She might well read some of the books put out by the merry band herein. She’s the one who pointed me to the Free Library at Baen, actually.

    1. My mom bought her last batch of guineas that way– it was $20 for six birds, you catch.
      When mom showed up with someone who could ACTUALLY CATCH the @#$# things, and caught like half of the flock for him because he mentioned there was an older lady coming later (thus saving a LOT of time and effort), the guy looked at mom and started loading them three at a time. “One….. Two…..”
      (Mom paid the kid who’d just come to help because it was fun $20, too. She’d been planning on “wasting” $100 because while they eat snakes, the wolves and owls eat them.)

      1. when we were kids, mt sis was “allergic” to cow milk so we got goat from a family friend, who also had Guineas. Nothing like their warning screams when you showed up just after dark (6pm) and were not expecting yells from the trees.
        At the time Owls were the only thing up here to worry about, even coyotes were sparse and the weasels & martins seemed to only target the chickens.
        Now it’s wolves, coyotes (where the wolves are not) cougars (trail cams finally got the state to admit they existed too), and the occasional bobcats (made a comeback of a sort).
        Reason for the quotes on allergic, is she was likely suffering after effects of an undiagnosed rheumatic fever that is still causing her issues to this day. (she’s balder than I am though we both shave our heads)

  2. One of the local entrepeneurs started a peafowl collection when his house was still outside city limits. After the city started growing we would get several calls a week about his “peacocks” wandering around, thinking they escaped the local zoo. I think they all did finally get donated to the zoo after he got sent to the state pen for driving over the top of one of his tenants during an argument. They are beautiful birds, but horrible traffic hazards. Though, the local wild turkeys are even worse for blocking traffic because they do it on purpose.

    1. Milady’s issue was, they have droppings that can look much like a dog’s, and she was running a poodle ranch at the time, as well as having a German Shepard around . . . it looked like the dogs were using the roof, as well as much of the yard for their latrine and she wasn’t cleaning up.
      Not to mention their dulcet tones of a call.

      just add Guinea fowl for added pleasure!

      1. That doesn’t do justice to the *volume* when they’re near. At a distance it’s just nicely exotic and better than roosters crowing. But if they ever start roosting over my house, I’ll finally find out what peacock tastes like.

      2. When I lived where there were a bunch, we always joked that they sounded like a woman screaming, “Haaalp! haaaaalp!!”

        1. Someone across the street from my college had some. The Dean of Students called us all together (small college) to remind us that they were peacocks, not an assault in progress. I . . . may have discomfited some of my classmates by imitating the birds, in the rather crowded room.

    2. Wild turkeys, ha! They really do block traffic on purpose. Drive up to one and blow your horn, it’ll stand there and dare you. I’ve seen them chase people in parking lots too. Very nervy.

  3. Wild Turkeys . . . or maybe semi-feral. One of ‘our’ flock’s founders was a white tom. We see a lot of color variation. They consider four properties, of which ours is one, their territory.
    Mom maintains bird feeders for the wild birds, hates the turkeys for eating her seeds, and gets annoyed every time I remind her they too are wild birds.
    One of the toms challenged my big white 12 passenger van to a fight once. Dumb. But they’re always hanging out around our chickens, who are smart enough to not say ‘come at me!’ to something that big, and I can sure see how they got domesticated in the first place.
    They also come to see if the driveway salt in the winter is tasty food.

    1. We have wild turkeys around here and sometimes they wander through the yard… they’d go next door and steal chicken food, so I got them some cracked corn to encourage ’em (cuz they also eat ticks) … d’ya think the durn things would touch it? of course not. What did eat the cracked corn off the ground? the barn cats!!

  4. Outcasts and Gods is a GREAT BOOK. Every book of Pam’s that I’ve read has been crazy fun. And every time I get to the end and I consider the wonder that must be the interior of Pam’s brain. (This is a good thing!)

    1. Heh. Chaotic, weird, and bit out of touch with reality. I am easily distracted from what’s going on in the Real World, which results in a lot of burned food.

  5. Heh. I just realized that at 52 books, you are about a fifth of the MGC collection on my Kindle. Way too hard to pick a favorite. Top 10, maybe? Favorite character is easier: Ebsa, then Xen, Wolf, Xen’s mom (“R” something), Rael… Oh. Top 10ing this one, too 🙂

    If you don’t want to get sucked into a 52 book series (why not?!? Go for it!), give Fancy Free a try; it’s brilliant and totally different.

    BTW: Figured out why I was confused about where I was in the “Eerie” series: I keep getting it mixed up with the “Familiar” series.

  6. Once saw some black vultures hanging out about the place where I worked. It was a place with all glass and mirror-like walls. A co-worker was hanging about the door wondering because there was this vulture glaring at its reflection very near the door.

    My advice was to use another door just in case, as it was, after all, a raptor.

  7. Peafowl SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH.
    Been there, heard them.

  8. My maternal grandparents’ house sported an enormous oak tree in the front yard (until it died and had to be removed in about 1970, IIRC) and it proved to be the favored roost of a spectacularly endowed peacock – a bird whom we think had escaped from an upscale estate nearby, who made it his home for about twenty years or possibly more. To the marvel of all the neighbors, because this was a neighborhood of tiny little 1920s cottages, on an unpaved street. Here this little low-rent neighborhood cottage had a formal rose garden at the very front, and a huge and spectacular peacock strutting around on Granny Jessie’s dichondra lawn as if he owned the place …

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