The Incarnations: The Incarnal War (Author’s Note)

If you’re reading this first sentence I’ll make sure you don’t waste your time by informing you that I’ll be talking about three things in my Author’s Note: my inspirations for this world, and the two most important pairs in Love & Dread and The Incarnal War. If you don’t want to know about either then I won’t blame you for skipping my note.

Now, comic books are easily one of my favorite pastimes, and thus, have become my biggest and most important source of inspiration for all of my books, but none so much as this one. The way the characters are designed is supposed to invoke what their image would be like in drawn form.

In terms of what specific comics-inspired this world, one would have to be Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, a phenomenal series that everyone should try to plunge into at least once. Whether it was the inspiration for Lord Dread’s white pupils or the idea of characters who can be described as beyond complete understanding, I owe a lot to Gaiman’s remarkable work.

The idea of the Incarnations was to illustrate our most important ideas and emotions in metaphysical form, and show how close and separate certain ideals are. It was not for some romantic complexity that the being of Dread only cared for the being of Love, fear and love go hand and hand, just as goodness and sadness play cause and effect.

Lastly, on my inspirations, it would be criminal for me to not admit that King Evil’s physical design isn’t a more welcoming version of Mike Carey’s Lucifer, from his comic series Lucifer, which is also a spinoff from The Sandman. Greatness spawns from greatness one could say in reference to those comics.

Now with Love & Dread, I must admit two things, I had never written nor imagined anything like this tale before. What I mean is, I had never had such a peaceful and loving protagonist, and I have never had to make a plot where the protagonist cannot kill, and yet it came naturally. I wrote the first draft for this portion of the novel in less than a week if you can believe it, and yet it is easily the best work I have ever done, and may ever do. Lady Love is a protagonist who is like many other characters on paper, she is beautiful, friendly, welcoming, and if one didn’t know any better, perfect. Though most of these kinds of characters aren’t the main character.

This distinction is what is so very important because this kind of character doesn’t shine if she isn’t the main character in her introduction. As the main character, we see how flawed and blind love can be, not only to those we love but things we don’t want to hear.

Lady Love can know anything, but never does she wish to learn that Lord Dread loves her, in any way but from his own mouth, and in the end she doesn’t completely get what she wants. That’s what makes her purity still special, not her godhood, that’s merely the best vessel.

Lord Dread on the other hand is a different animal entirely. I knew from the very beginning that he loved his Lady, without a doubt, but it had to be conceivable that he wouldn’t realize it, that he should lack enough faith in himself to know such a thing. That’s what makes him my best antagonist, and yes, he most certainly is the antagonist. Maybe for some, that was blatantly obvious, but I know to some that it wasn’t. Don’t forget, Lord Dread wanted to destroy the world.

That villainous plan is so overdone that unless it’s in a comedy we can’t blame others for not wanting to read it, yet that is the plot of Love & Dread, the villain wants to destroy the world.

Lord Dread may not find himself liked by all if any at all, but for me, I will always cherish how as a villain, he seems heroic, at least while I was writing him. How else would one describe a man who loves his Lady more than anything else, who protects her above anything else, and who doesn’t chain her to her castle and hold her prisoner? He gives more than she knows what to do with.

Notice that he never once forced her to stand aside, to go home. He arguably forced her to continue their game, but if she refused she herself would not feel his wrath. In short terms, in essence, that’s what makes Lord Dread a heroic villain, an antagonist that challenges Lady Love in a way no one else can or would.

The Incarnal War is a more classic tale by my standards. It is bloody, it is violent, and it’s not afraid to have unlikeable characters when they’re not made of Love. Maybe more will agree than I think, but the most important relationship in this tale is the one not between Life and Death, or Evil and Death, though they are very important but Good and Evil. Again, an age-old plot is used to close the climax, Good vs Evil, yet the best part I hope everyone else found to be, was how it’s unclear which one was truly good and truly evil in that battle, if at all.

King Evil, I’ll say this now, is one of, if not my favorite character that I’ve ever written. He’s evil incarnate, yet he is easily the most real. The others are very much gods. They are not mortal in most manners, they are almost perfect from the outside in, but his Majesty is not. He speaks more like a person, he makes openly selfish decisions like a person, and more importantly, he looks like a person. King Evil is likely the most relatable, in his relationships with his brother, his parents, and his friends, and he deals with them all in a human way. With selfishness masked over selflessness.

The most difficult thing about this character is that he is evil, but how to make sure everyone remembers that? I don’t know if I succeeded, but King Evil certainly lacked the morals that all others did, at least the ones who weren’t completely psychotic (I’m looking at you, Destruction). He slept with partners wantonly, he spoke rudely and disrespectfully, he broke his promises, but most importantly, he lied. Maybe too much time passed between writing the book and writing this note, but aside from Sir Peace, no one else lied like King Evil did… as we mortals do, and that’s the key to his character, and how you feel about him I believe. If nothing else, he certainly has the best jokes or the worst.

King Good is also important, for much the same reason as his brother, his relationships, and his morals, but in an admittedly much more mundane way. He needs to do the right thing, but the right thing is hard, so very hard. He wants to have his brother, but his brother is a black sheep. He wants to win the war, but he doesn’t want Sir Gratitude to die. There was honestly no way for King Good to be happy, I mean he joined a war where the sides weren’t blatantly good and evil and he wanted good to win. Good could never win in The Incarnal War. As a character, I don’t have as much to say about his Majesty as I did his brother, Love, or Dread. His character is pretty straightforward, and that’s how I like him.

The last thing I will leave you is the fact of which scene was the hardest and easiest to write. They both may be surprising.

The hardest was Death cradling her son in her arms, and what was so hard was trying to display the horror of the two sons’ actions before their parents. The fight was difficult because of the relationship that had to bleed through, but showing a mother seeing such an evil thing happen to her child is something I don’t think I can ever truly imagine in its utter completion… so good thing it was a scene from Life’s perspective.    

The easiest scene was killing Lady Love, and Lord Dread’s ending of the war. You’d think killing my favorite Incarnation after only King Evil would be hard, but it was frighteningly easy. It was easy because love does die, and I mean the love between people. Dread doesn’t, fear doesn’t, but love does, and that was a feeling I believe many can understand. It doesn’t have to be in any major and super depressing way.

Love can die simply, and sometimes happily, but not here.

Lord Dread’s onslaught though, was the release of all wrath, and a statement about what may truly be the only thing that will end all war.

A god’s fury. Find the next chapters to the next story in The Incarnal Saga.

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