Just put up the fifth chapter of my Miner book here on Redroom. This chapter is all about the Unabomber, Ted, a character in my Miner book.
I actually was doing historic preservation surveys during my tenure as an archaeologist for the Helena National Forest Service in the same mountains up near Lincoln, from 1991-1996, not far from where the Unabomber had his cabin. He had not been captured when I started looking though the old mines and mine buildings up there, and I wonder if I might have seen him, riding on his bike along those backroads.
Now here I am, combining an utterly fictional character (the miner Joe) with a REAL public figure (Ted K.) who has been transformed into a fictional character. I have been struggling with this, whether it is right or wrong to do. Yet for me, they are kind of two sides of the same lonely, isolated sort of man, and the choices they make.
The character of Ted is obvious, based on not only the historical Unabomber, but my own isolationist, luddite, misanthropic, antidevelopment, antigovernment feelings at times in myself and encounters with other human beings with Ted-like characteristics in my life. Actually Ted had more in common with some of those old recluse miners than he would like to have admitted. It seems no one has tried to look through the eyes of the Unabomber in this way before. And yet writers do look through the eyes of murderers all the time.
And Joe is an amalgam of the various oldtimers I have met during my life, miners, old veterans, laborers, ...stoic, solitary, lonely and taciturn men. Men who grin and bear the impossible. And keep going, one foot in front of the other. Enduring. Because what other choice is there. There is a lot of my grandpa in Joe.
Two lonely sorts of men, neither liking the modern world or having much use for people most of the time. And yet so very different. Worlds apart in another way. One a romantic nihilist and the other a pragmatic stoic.
When I thought about writing this story, based on my upbringing in Montana, I originally thought of it as a horror story. A "Grapes of Wrath" meets "The Shining" sort of book. And then there were elements that were more like magical realism. I have been struggling with what this book wants to become, and how it fights me at the same time. How do you write a story that wants you to write it, yet fights being written?