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[Cole Matthews] How "Security" became "Porcupines"


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How “Security” became “Porcupines”

 

“Security” was the working title of the story “Porcupines.”  I got the idea one day at the end of May 2013 when I saw this security guard standing behind the desk looking so forlorn.  I’d long had the habit of making up stories about random people I’d see.  He was the ideal that drove the idea behind “Security.” 

 

I wondered what it would be like for a gay security guard, filled with insecurities, to fall in love from afar with someone who worked in the building.  That made me think, what if the guy he fell in love with had insecurities just as deep and just as severe.  How would they make it work?

 

I started imagining how they’d get together and the problems they’d encounter.  That got the story going.  Along the way, I figured these characters’ back stories, their personal histories would provide the grist in the mill of their coming together.  That’s when I hit my first roadblock.

 

What if it became too hard and they broke up?

 

Thus was born that loveable, but mouthy, scamp Isaac.  For Isaac’s character to be real, he had to be somewhat irreverent and willful.  He would also have to be incredibly faithful to someone who helped him.  If not, Isaac simply wouldn’t mastermind bringing these two men back together.  What would make him feel so loyal and driven?

Someone of his own to love who he lost and was reunited by a friend.  That’s how I invented these characters, through shear need for specific kinds of people.  Raleigh had to be the walking wounded until he met the man of his dreams.  Therefore, he had to have a really bad back story.  Otherwise, he wouldn’t get why it was so tough for Chuck and Dylan to be together. 

 

So, I had my main characters bopping around in my well-composted mind, but I still didn’t have a clue how to stage it.  Sure, I could use a mall, because Paul Blart is one of my favorite movie characters, but where should Dylan work?

That came easier.  As someone who worked in the restaurant industry for over 25 years, I’d make Dylan a waiter and make the fictional Sweet Nora’s the main stage at the beginning of the story.  Lynora was a name I completely conjured out of thin air, mostly because the restaurant name suggested it.  Krill started out as a more gruff character but when I realized the two of them would hook up, he became mellower. 

 

Finally, I had the pieces all ready to go.  But, Chuck had depression issues and so he couldn’t live alone.  He had to live with someone and thus Kelli and Brandon came into existence.  From there, I found Nanna was the perfect balance in Chuck’s life to Lynora in Dylan’s.  I began to see patterns emerge and instead of fighting them I made them part of the story.

 

You see, Dylan and Chuck are mirror images of each other; Castor and Pollex if you will.  For each man, I created friends and support systems that were quite different but maintained the same kinds of support. 

 

Therefore, Raleigh had to work with Chuck just as Dylan worked with Isaac.  Dylan had to have a brother that matched Raleigh’s sister.  Suzie came into being because of Brandon.  Along the way, I found more and more of these attributes developed naturally, almost without me noticing it.  But, by the time the rough draft was done, I realized what had occurred. 

 

“Security” was no longer appropriate as a title.  These guys were more substantial and had far more complex personal histories for simple insecurity to be the problem.  Dylan’s dreams came about almost as an afterthought, but the monster Ron came along with the dreams.  But, Ron couldn’t be a simple monster that bothered Dylan.  Dylan would have resolved that issue long ago. 

 

So, I found the only thing that would explain the nightmares and Dylan’s inability to get past them.  I made it cognitive dissonance which made Dylan “remember” only the good parts of Ron while Chuck openly cringed at his own monster, Dewayne. 

Fascinating how as I recall writing the story, these characters demanded their own sets of circumstances once they got to certain dilemmas.  As I write this, I realize there were things I couldn’t really control once character traits came into existence.  So, I suddenly found myself in my next great dilemma.  What could possibly break Chuck and Dylan up, even for just a short time?

 

That cognitive dissonance part of Dylan was the only possible explanation.  However, I didn’t know how to portray that mental state.  Of course, the dreams and denial all worked, but how could I make Dylan lash out.  I knew it had to be Dylan.  Chuck would never run from their relationship.  Only Dylan was brash enough to do so. 

 

That made the chapter Porcupines so very, very important.  The little adage about porcupines and lovers was the lynchpin in the whole story.  As a result, after I finished the rough draft, I recognized I had created two porcupines, Dylan and Chuck.  They were the porcupines after all.  So, it made sense to make that the final title of the story.  You see, what makes me giggle a little is the last thing major I did was change the name of the story and I think it was the most important part of the whole thing.

 

Anyway, you’ve read enough of my ramblings.  I just wanted to get this on the screen and if I ever have the guts, I just might post this in the forum.  If not, then I still had fun writing it.

 

(P.S. I guess I did have the guts.  Who'd a thunk it?)

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  • 8 months later...

I just finished reading this story for the second time. It is definitely one of my all time favorites....hard to believe it is a first time novel. The writing and the story are superb and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone....really well done Cole...I got to know and love all the characters and what made them tick. Thanks for providing me with such enjoyment...twice...cheers...Gary

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Thanks!  I recently finished reading this story and it is very interesting to hear how the characters and story developed in your mind. The "Porcupines" story was excellent. I hope that you one day do the sequel that you mentioned.

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