i originally made the threat here, and then i followed it up by actually conceiving a character here. but i put it all in the back of my mind because i wasn't quite sure how to fit this strange outsider into the careful epic that i had spent so much care constructing.

well thanks to a wretched sinus infection and a lot of medication that has made me both loopy and cranky (and i mean really cranky ~ like, sleepless, homicidal cranky), i think i've solved all those niggling problems and whitney ballard will be making his debut this weekend (Sunday) on Reconstruction (in his own words, no less, which is utterly terrifying to me!).

i have to say, spending time with ballard, getting to know his particularities has been very disturbing, but likewise very rewarding (especially in terms of bringing together a few loose sheep in the story ~ if i ever thought the plot was intertwined in an impossible complex fashion, it's now ridiculously so). but even more gratifying, perhaps: it's not often that i challenge myself to write a character so utterly repugnant and try see things from a point of view I couldn't disagree with more ~ and to find good in someone whose whole livelihood depends on a gross systematic bigotry.

i actually found qualities to admire in ballard, which is frightening, but i hope good for the story. and i'm proud of myself that i am not going to shrink from putting this character front and center in his own little opera.

a rather cleaned-up whitney ballard
and his long-time nemesis (unfinished),
the mysterious "reverend" luther.
three guesses who the dashing mister luther really is
(and the first two don't count)

the first time i watched Birth of a Nation, i dismissed much of it as hopelessly bigoted and absurd. it didn't help that i saw it on the Hitler channel and that the commentators reminded us at every commercial break how absurd and racist the film is. but it stuck with me for a lot of its imagery, certainly, and for the overwhelming narrow-mindedness of its climactic barn-burning. one of the commentators said that the movie was so racist that it actually showed yankees and southerners overcoming their wartime animosity by banding together to conquer a common enemy (a black man). i always wondered at how much sense this made to an audience in 1915 (sadly, i'm sure it did), but likewise, over the years, it really made me want to write a story that handled the same idea in a much more positive way.

~ and i've changed my mind about being spoilery (blame it on the flonase) ~ i'll just say this: with whitney ballard, i got my wish: two mortal enemies with one common goal. and the fun part is one of them will definitely not survive the war as a result of it.


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