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So this will be the second post in a series I am calling "The story behind the story" that tells about what made me want to write what I wrote, and what was going on in my life when I wrote it. Why write a series of meta-posts like this one? Well, I am hoping that you, my followers will find it interesting, or at least mildly diverting, and that maybe it will help give you a deeper understanding of where I am coming from.

Running with Epiphany comes out of my growing unease and discomfort in the months following the U.S. election in 2020. I was watching the defeated outgoing President and those whom he had hired to represent him make continuous unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, and a certain segment of people seemed to actually be lining up to believe them. I was hearing about him having meetings in the oval office with co-conspirators to discuss declaring martial law. My mood was dark, and there was a sense of an impending shoe drop that was coming. That shoe of course, did drop on January 6th, 2021, but when I wrote this in the previous late December, while taking the week between Christmas and New Years off from work, none of that had happened yet. It was a scary time, and that fear of the impending was the fertile soil into which the seed of Running with Epiphany was planted.

So I tried to imagine what it might be like to wake up one morning in a world that was ruled by a tyrannical dictatorship, where the eye of power hovers over the seat of government ever-searching for any sign of resistance, any sign of dissent to be crushed under its heel. The world that Joshua (my protagonist) lives in is dark, dystopian, and exploitive to its core. People have no rights, they have no voice, and they have no power. They are merely cogs in a great machine that exists to grind them down until there is nothing left. All of the institutions that are components of it; schools, police, courts, churches, businesses, all of them are corrupt. All of them exist to exploit. None of them exist to serve, or enrich; the medical profession straps people into machines and after running their credit cards, pours pills down the throats of their hapless patients by the bottle, the schools churn out sheep in robes and mortarboards to serve the great machine.

The system is represented in the story by Mr. Leviathan, the ultimate antagonist in the story. He doesn't see people as people, he sees them as meat to be fed to the machine, and he even says so in the story. But what is his great enemy? What is it that threatens his rule? What is it that he fears? It's everything that Epiphany, a muse from the realm of thought and ideas represents. It's inspiration, it's free and independent thought, it's creativity, it's art, it's beauty. It's all those things that ennoble the human spirit. In this horrible joyless world, These things are so out of place that they produce a visible mark above the heads of those who carry them - a mark of inspiration. And when Mr. Leviathan and those that are part of his machine see this mark, they will stop at nothing to destroy anybody who is exposed to it, treating it like it's some kind of virus. As it so happens, with Epiphany in Joshua's head, his mark is different; more powerful than most, and it's sure to get him into big trouble.

And yet, in the midst of all this misery, there is still hope. With Epiphany along for the ride as Joshua tries to find a way to return her to her world, he encounters Candace. Her mere existence, as somebody who is practiced in evading the overweening consequences of the system is intended to show Joshua that all is not lost. You can fight the good fight, though it will be tedious and exhausting. She shows Joshua that she has learned how to hide her mark of inspiration. She agrees to help Joshua get Epiphany home. When they come face to face with Mr. Leviathan, he knows her because his men in black have been chasing her for a long time.

So will Mr. Leviathan succeed in stamping out the muse? Can he finally and fully enslave the minds of all mankind once and for all? Well, that would be telling, and it would defeat the purpose of the reading the story. If this sounds like a story you would like to read, it is available for free in exchange for signing up for my mailing list. Followers on my mailing list will receive regular (sometimes semi-regular) posts from me with stuff like this, or letting them know when new books are coming out. If you're interested, You can sign up to join the mailing list with just an email address and a first name here: http://www.royalcrownpress.com/index.php/join-my-mailing-list.

Also, Cataclysm, the first volume in my GameLit series Twilight Realms Online is nearing completion. I should have an announcement about that coming very soon, so stay tuned!

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Correction: In this post, even though I proofed it twice before publishing, I incorrectly referred to my protagonist originally as Jake when his name is Joshua. This is an embarrassing mistake, but there is a lesson here; don't ever write and publish a blog post while also trying to correct the order of the blog the post is published on AND doing a half dozen other things all at the same time. The name has been corrected throughout the post

Brett J. Baker
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