Tradpub Thriller Idea, Last Character Sketch: Solange Pierre

This will be the last post, for now, on this idea. My bipolar mind wants a Miracle Day; it says, “It’s been five days! Nobody has broken down the door yet! It’s all for nothing!” I “know” that’s not true, but that nownownow part of my brain won’t believe it. It’s always been the case in my life that shit either happens fast, or not at all. Every time I’ve been left hanging, I’ve been left hanging.

Besides, even thinking rationally, after I do this character sketch, there’s more than enough info for someone to say Yay or Nay on the idea.

And I do have a book to ghostwrite for $$$ now! So I need to forcefully turn my brain away from this idea, until I can make some money and literally “buy time” to work on it again. (See? An author who can properly use the word “literally”! What’s not to love?) Also, Query Shark could take up to…90 days to post my query, if it makes it at all. Ay caramba. I could (theoretically) find an agent and even get a publisher interested in that time.

So. Here’s where I haven’t done a lot of research. The workings of the Senate are arcane to me, although the point of the story is that, like the rest of the characters, Senator Solange Pierre is someone who’s skilled at end-running systems, making them work to her advantage, and upending them when necessary. I Hereby Promise to read Robert Caro’s LBJ biography, or at least Master of the Senate, as well as all other research I need to construct a plot whereby she could plausibly seize some serious power, given the death of 85% of her colleagues, using her newfound seniority.

Now, this is where I’d want to work with a developmental editor. As I think over this as I write, maybe she shouldn’t be a Senator. Maybe she should be the VP, or a member of the House who vaults from member to Speaker to President. To hold the real power, the executive authority to really get shit done.

As I watch the election, I can’t help but think of how I’d run for President. Every candidate for higher office promises to “shake up Washington,” but for the most part, they’re lying, because most of them are party loyalists, faithful apparatchiks who’ve patiently worked their way up, rewarded for their steadfast refusal to upset the apple cart that brings all good things to those who wait (and attain seniority and powerful committee seats). And who will make U-turns like Marco Rubio, putting his place in the party structure before anything else – “Donald Trump is a liar and a con man [one day] and if he is the nominee, I will support him [at the debate the next day].”

If Hillary Clinton won’t release her speeches? I’d simply write them myself, and publish them on my campaign website, replete with a mixture of bromides and flagrant promises to bend over backwards to please Wall Street. I mean, what could she do? Sue you? Then you’d be in “discovery,” where she’d have to reveal the speeches to prove you hadn’t published the real things.

Donald Trump’s tax returns? Same thing. Get an accountant to make estimated guesses of The Donald’s probably $0.00 payments over the years, based on paper “losses,” and publish them. Again – sue me.

If you’re a third party candidate, with no grand convention to let you monopolize the airwaves for a week? Throw your own “people’s convention” right before theirs, to control the narrative and make them respond to yours.

Locked out of a presidential debate? Get on YouTube at the same time the debates are running live, run the feed, but pause it to insert yourself as speaker and questioner – you don’t get a response from the other candidates, but you do reach an audience who doesn’t want to see and hear the same old bromides in the same old format.

The point being, I’m going to have President or Senator or Congresswoman Pierre run a “guerrilla campaign” to attain her seat. Old media and the two parties will be all, “you can’t do that,” but that’s the point. You can do that, if you’re not dependent on the good will of the hierarchy to succeed. Of course, under the system at the beginning of the book, she’s locked out of power, the “good things” controlled by the two parties.

But then comes the pandemic, which especially hits hard in the gerontocracies, the House (81% over 50), the Senate (85% over 50) and the presidency (youngest presidents in the last century were between 43 and 47, Kennedy, Clinton and Obama, whose combined terms cover less than 20% of said century). Not to mention the entire Supreme Court.

And she’s off to the races. But she’s not an idealist; she’s a pragmatist, as ruthless in her way as Johnson. She runs that kind of campaign exactly because she knows it’s the Trumpesque sort of anti-campaign that works now, the one that refuses to play nice with the system. (Even breaking with the tradition of using at-least-thirty-year-old-well-known-nobody-hates-them-songs for campaign themes, and choosing that Morrissey song – okay, twenty plus years old but not well known – “Such a Little Thing Makes Such a Big Difference.” You know, “Why don’t you change, change and be nice, no I will not change and I will not be nice.”)

And when she’s gathered the reins of power, we see her having to make tough decisions about who will live and who will die.

And, of course, we see a lot of social change that younger people want enacted into law…or at least, attempted. We get national health care. We get forgiveness of all student loans. Then it gets tricky – trying to raise inheritance taxes and taxes on the 1% leads to basic non-compliance; after all, 1/3 of the IRS is dead, too, 1/3 or more of prosecutors, so who’s going to make them?

She’s attracted to our Captain-Colonel Derek, of course, and he to her. Two brilliant young minds with the power to work together to reshape the world! Both of them with hot, hot bods of course. (I do great homosexin’, but I’m a little awkward with the heterosexin’ but, developmental editor help stuff.)

Then they go in different ideological directions. She’s pragmatic enough to allow the 1% to kill off a lot of the population, if she can harness their loyalty and power for the “Greater Good.” Or at least the Greater Good as she sees it, much as Kennedy was unwilling to embrace the civil rights movement to avoid alienating the south and its elected representatives.

But our Derek? Not so much. There are only so many “pill riots” he’s willing to put down to safeguard transport trains hauling lifesaving drugs to walled compounds. So they’ll have a passionate but adversarial relationship, which will make for some solid drama, and some really hot sexin’.

So, as I’m wrapping this up for now, I’ll touch lightly on some of the minor characters I have in mind. Solange will have a younger sister who’s emblematic of those in the younger generation who are “semi-dispossessed,” who will never afford houses, who are crushed by student debt, who live at home with their parents because there’s no other option. She’ll inherit the house when their mother dies, and we’ll get to see some sisterly friction between the “successful one” and the “unsuccessful one.”

Then as noted previously, the whole focus on infrastructure will revolve around the water supply, so there will be a young engineer who finds himself forced to make his own life and death decisions for others, and who has to decide if he turns to violence to enforce them. (Perhaps by creating a dramatic flood to wipe out an invading force bent on seizing a reservoir, or something else Very Hollywood Friendly in the visual/action department.)

Also, I’m firmly intending to make the characters a good racial mix. No pure lily-white cast. I see Solange and her sister as African-American, a group traditionally loyal to the Democratic party, which can add some more friction between herself and her family when she goes indie.

Okay. So. There you go, Tradpub agents and publishers. My own “ruthless triage” compels me to stop here, and get back to things that are paying money now. I have this ghostwriting job, about 1.5 months’ work, and one last Game Players book at 50-70k (let’s call that three months, based on my standard output to date; see my catalog and pub dates for verification of my Prodigious Productivity) to write to wrap up the series. Of course I’d shut down my editorial services side gig to focus on the book, and I’m all yours to start this in say January. But order now, please.

Yeah, I will do the “just another schlub in the schlubpile” submission thing eventually. But, like our Solange, I know that if I play the game by the game’s rules, the better game players will win, the people who are well connected, who went to school with the right person, who went to the right writer’s workshop, etc. This is my bold gamble to make an end run around the whole field of play.

Now we’ll see what happens…

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Dear Tradpub: Here’s my Doorstopper Thriller Query! – Brad Vance Author
  2. Tradpub Thriller Idea, Character Sketch #2: Captain Derek Reed – Brad Vance Author

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