As the only author to submit a story for the November 2020 Historical Fiction contest, J.C. Laird becomes the first two-time winner on Prose Opiate. Since I already covered his personal and professional history as a writer in a previous post, this month, I stuck to questions only about his winning submission, A Destiny Fullfilled.
Admin: What can you tell us about the process behind A Destiny Fulfilled? Did you do much research?
Laird: I definitely had to research the story, from food, clothing and weaponry, to geographic locations, lineages, and local customs. That Goliath’s lineage might have traced back to the ancient race of giants, the Anakin, was interesting. Also, that David and Goliath were actually related through a distant marriage.
Admin: I never heard of anything like that before. That is interesting. Did you draw on the tone or voice of another author to help you write an authentic period piece? I thought your words sometimes echoed like the old Conan or Casca books.
Laird: No, I’ve read neither Conan or Casca. The best I can say is that I used a tone and voice I imagined might sound more authentic.
Admin: Oh, ha! I can’t believe I was so wrong. So, why did you reach for that era of pre-history so prominent in the Abrahamic meta?
Laird: The simple answer is that my idea for the story originated in high school. I may have even written a rough draft, now lost in the winding corridors of time. Born and raised a Christian, I was fascinated in my youth with the stories in the Old Testament, of which David and Goliath is an exciting one. I just wanted to give it a twist.
Admin: Was your goal to humanize Goliath?
Laird: Yes, to humanize Goliath was the primary goal. I realize that our perceived enemies, no matter how bitter our enmity against them, have private lives and stories—families, children, a life. Also, I didn’t think one rock could bring down Goliath with all his armor.
Admin: What do you find most interesting about the time period you wrote about?
Laird: The continuing struggle between the Philistines and the Israelites, symbolic of the historical trials and tribulations of the Jewish nation.
Admin: Outside of “God’s Plan,” why would it be Malek’s destiny to fall to David? Why couldn’t the mighty Malek have ended his journey any other way?
Laird: Yes, he could have ended his journey another way, but someone else would have to take the fall.
Admin: Oh, okay. And that’s the destiny fulfilled. The fall of Goliath is like the first domino, and it was inevitable. Cool. So, were there any ideas that you edited out of the story? How did the story change upon revision?
Laird: No ideas were edited out of the story and there were only minor revisions, basically in the details, to get to the end product.
Admin: Did you try to include a deeper message? What would you like readers to take away from the story? Not to fight fate–or God’s plan?
Laird: Deeper message? I believe in God and that there is a master plan which is beyond our comprehension. But within that grand plan we have control of the details, alternatives, choices. Will those things have any influence on the grand plan? We’ll have to wait and see.
Admin: Did you encounter any challenges while writing the story? How do you overcome challenges while writing?
Laird: The biggest challenge was doing the research and incorporating it into the story. As for overcoming challenges while writing, I find it’s a matter of staying in your seat and working and revising until you get it right.
Admin: For the last question, I’d like to ask something silly. If this story were translated to screen, what actors do you think should play the characters?
Laird: I’m not good with actor’s names. You’d need someone young for David of course, someone BIG for Goliath (think Shaquille O’Neal – 7’1”, 325lbs.), a rough looking guy for Kabeer, and a dark- haired beauty for Nisa. You choose!
Admin: Ah, well. Thanks for taking the time to do another interview. Maybe someone else will submit something next month, and I’ll get another voice to interview. Good luck out there and thank you for being such a talented and committed writer.
If you would like to participate in a Prose Opiate writing contest for a chance to win cash, a cover design, and participate in an interview just like this you can click right here. Even if you don’t win, you will receive guaranteed feedback on your work and professional editing.
If you haven’t considered submitting a story to our contests because you think the chances are slim, I would like to point out that we get surprisingly few submissions here and your odds are probably better than you think. We want stories. The point of this site is to encourage writers to write and to provide them with rewards for their efforts. Winning a contest and being published in an online journal is a great way to earn some recognition as a writer. I hope to see an entry from you soon.