Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Judged (Afterword)

Read the Preface.
Read Part 1.
Read Part 2.
Read Part 3.

As you no doubt figured out by the end of Part 3, Judged is an adaptation of the story of Samson as a crime drama in a setting similar to 1920's gangland Chicago.

The three parts released thus far only comprise the first chapter. I've done some outlining for the rest, and at this point it looks like the whole story will work as a five-act drama or a five-chapter mini-novel.

The setting is the fictional city of Illini, a Native American word that originally applied to the general region south of Lake Michigan. I considered using "Assati" or "Azza" (or some other derivation of Gaza, the city of the Philistines), but the name would have been too Aramaic to fit a middle-America gangland setting. The period is late 1920s -- Dom drives a prototype Model A Ford, which was released in 1927.

The Philistines in this case are the crime family of Dom Basilio. His daughter is Dalia, a Latinized "Delilah." She's kind of important. After some fence-sitting, I kept Samson's original name for narrative impact, but changed his father's name from "Manoah" to "Noah" (retaining the same root, meaning "rest").

If you noticed that some of the names (Basilio, Antonio, Lindoro) sounded familiar, that probably means you're either a fan of classical opera or French theater. The names are taken from characters in "The Barber of Seville" and "The Marriage of Figaro," plays written by Pierre de Beaumarchais and later converted into operas by Rossini and Mozart, respectively.

The first break came by re-imagining the "gates of Gaza" (Judges 16:1-3) as local syndicates of a broader criminal enterprise. Once that was understood, it also became clear that the temple of Dagon (Judges 16:24) was the center of this empire, the headquarters for the Basilio 'estate,' and thus the necessary site for the initial confrontation and reveal of Samson.

This was an almost startlingly easy project to write. These eight pages took about five hours of writing, and another two hours for editing, spaced over several days. This is especially rapid in contrast with the glacial pace of my novel project. But, to borrow a quote from a not-quite historical Mozart, I suppose when's it's already written in one's head, the rest is just dictation.

I've already continued writing the second chapter of the story. At the same time, I don't anticipate posting additional parts from this storyline for some time, for a variety of reasons. Now we return you to your regularly scheduled programming.


  1. This was such an inventive idea and so engagingly executed. Thanks for blogging this, and I wish you luck if you want to make it a longer-term project.

  2. Thanks Leah! I appreciate the feedback. It was an awful lot of fun to write, so I hope to be return to it eventually.