Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

Xandros February 7, 2012

Xandros.

Alexandros of Macedonia aka Alexander the Great. Warrior. Emperor.
What we know of him from history reflects his excellent understanding of the strategies of war, his passionate nature, the strength of his character, his knowledge of power and how to manipulate it, his charisma.
How to translate that for a modern audience in a way that makes him an entertaining character, but is somewhat true to history? The thing about writing is, that we can re-interpret historical truth. We can manipulate facts into fantasy, and so we do.
My Xandros likely bears little resemblance to the historical figure, whom I imagine was actually much more brutal than my version. Mine is full of passion and dedication to his task, but does so with humour. He does know how to manipulate and intimidate, and uses those skills on the other men, in particular. It’s a worthy ability.
I think the real Alexandros had a dark spirit. According to Annabel Lyon’s research for her novel The Golden Mean, bred from birth to his role, blooded at an early age, it is likely Alexandros spent most of his life in a state of Post-traumatic Stress. If not, he was psychopathic or sadistic. Considering he was adored by his men, I think that is unlikely.

I’ve seen PTSD up close over the years.  It is a debilitating condition that can make emotions volatile.  Power battles insecurity.  Fear battles rage.  On the surface, a vision of self-control must be observed by all.  It reveals a deeply conflicted character, a frail human who is never safe to reveal his frailty.

When you know there is a tender heart beneath the bristling exterior, you can try to reach it.  I hope the Xandros that I’ve written shows something of this dichotomy.  Can the reader feel his heart beneath his bravado?  Can you?

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CHEESE! May 29, 2011

Cheesy Write gift basket from Sedo's Old Fashioned Butcher and Deli

Each year at the Shuswap Writers’ Festival they offer a story start for a Cheesy Write that must be deposited in the basket about 28 hours after the opening of registration. The winner is announced at the Storytelling event on Saturday evening. The writing is supposed to be ‘cheezy’ and the prize reflects this.

Tonight Kay Johnson announced, “I’m glad this year the winner of the Cheesy write is actually in attendance to receive the prize. Shawn, come on up!” Yeah!! I won last year, but I was late arriving and so the prize was given to someone else.

This year was a murder mystery start, and the selection had to provide clues and solve the murder. I had a notion of what I wanted to do with it, so I took lots of notes at the Friday night coffee house, and incorporated things we learned about the writers and their stories in my piece.

You know, I got compliments for this doggerel from a Governor General Literary Award winner.  Gotta love Writers’ Festivals!   😉  One wins $25,000; another wins a basket of cheese, but a win is a win.  lol  It’s nice that people got the jokes and had a giggle.

Here it is, for your confusion and/or amusement:

2011 Cheezy Mystery Write:

We hear there’s been a murder and we’re not sure yet whodunit
So let’s consider options and hope that there’ll be some fun yet!
John Pass might take the Higher Ground, so it’s a bit far fetched
To imagine a GG nominee could murder is quite a stretch!
And that eliminates Annabel because she made the GG short list
And also clears GG prize winner, amazing Wendy Phillips.

There’s some suspicious folks among the nudes at Burning Man
So Deanna’s worth some pondering, but first let’s get another scan
Wait! What is that object lying on the boardwalk over there?
Oh my! A tattered playing card of a lady who’s quite bare,
Across her chest’s an invitation to a “Come Naked” pot luck dinner
Taking place on Galiano*, among the family friendly sinners

The sleuths picked up the card and noticed tiny print-
The dead man is a lawyer. “Ah ha!” they shrieked, “A hint!”
Now who would kill a lawyer? They pondered by the lake
Nancy said, “Apparently almost everyone would like to plunge a stake
Into their heartless chests!” There is nothing there to beat
The rhythm like what throbs from Ken Firth’s drumming seat
“That’s it,” they called, “we’ve solved it! The lawyer’s heart was taken
To provide Ken’s powerful rhythm, unless we’re much mistaken!”

* this is actually an error-

The ‘family friendly nudes’ were in Desolation Sound with Grant Lawrence, not on Galiano Island…  Luckily I wasn’t penalized for errata!

 

 
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