The story began as an idea for a short script that would explore a philosophical question about murder. However, it changed quite a bit over the past ten years as I’ve played with the outline trying to find the best way to tell the story. I tried sci-fi and fantasy settings, and mostly I had a good guy chasing a bad guy, but my Christian spiritual journey has changed me over the years and I try to see people differently. I no longer see anyone as righteous, so there can’t be a good guy, and I realize that I need forgiveness as much as anyone else. The philosophical question became, “When does a wicked man lose all chance at redemption?” And I pushed the “good” guy and the “bad” guy to such depravity that neither appeared redeemable. Because I wanted people to relate strongly to the struggles of these two men, I had to make it contemporary rather than write it in a fantasy or sci-fi setting. Another thing I did was leave the locations general and the ethnicities of the characters a mystery; that way the reader’s own perception of the circumstances and stresses helps write the story for them. This was all meant to create a compelling story that would feel very relevant to the reader. The issues of crime, drugs and self-hate may be extreme for many readers, but the stresses that drive the characters to these extremes are familiar to most everyone, especially in this economy where unemployment and lay-offs are all too prevalent.
Another major influence for this story was my experience overseas working private security in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. I met many former soldiers with combat experience and I found a common theme. One soldier spoke of arriving in Iraq at age 19 and doing his job of killing very well, and easily. But after a few months, when he had time to get to know some of the locals and drink tea with them, learn some of their language, buy DVDs from them, suddenly the people he had to kill looked like the people he drank tea with, who were his friends. After that, I was told, the job became much more difficult. The young man had Christian faith when he first became a soldier, but after that first tour his faith was shaken, and after two more tours it was completed covered with coping mechanisms that protected him from the doubt. He only did his job, and he did it well, but he left wondering if he was a good person and doubting his own soul. The military is great at making killers, it isn’t so great and teaching them how to deal with it. This young man’s coping mechanisms made him difficult to deal with, but if you spent time with him, listened to his story, and didn’t pass judgment on him, you’d see a hurting human being.
So I took this young man and put him in an environment where he was driven to murder and whose perspective was that he was born to be a criminal, and that’s where Roland came from. If you knew what pushed Roland to his extremes, even if his extremes caused you immense pain, would you be able to forgive him? To be honest, all of us would struggle to forgive someone who caused us so much hurt. But that doesn’t mean we don’t try.
Temujin Hu is a hard-working American living rather like a nomad. At 36 years of age, he’s moved about 36 times and at one time or another called “home” California, Texas, Colorado, or five other states as well as Germany, China, and Kuwait. In 2003, he graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in East Asian Languages and Cultures. He served over four years in the US Navy in the 90’s and recently spent more than six years doing professional security in Los Angeles, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He also ran a small family-owned internet business for a couple years. He’s a Christian who spends a lot of time in the Word, and his interests include mixed martial arts, international relations, and dogs. Hobbies include hiking and shooting guns, but mostly he loves being an American and wants everyone to believe they can climb mountains.
His latest book is the inspirational crime fiction, The Rage.
Visit Temujin on the web at http://www.temujinhu.com.