Jim McDoniel: Writer
Upon adding me to the ranks, Clayton began to fill me in on what they were up to: a post apocalyptic radio play called Our Fair City. The world was frozen, people lived underground, and a handful of characters had already been tossed around from Lucky Strike, the lightning rigger to Neal Henderson the…er… “word I don’t say that means manure” cowboy [EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out Episode 4: S.O.L. for a few more choice euphemisms on the subject]. Then, it came time to go out on the floor. Clayton said he’d fill me in later and I went off to work ushering people into the world of English Boy Wizard.
Essentially, I wanted to put my own stamp on the world. I was fortunate in that, at this point, we really didn’t have anything resembling a plot [EDITOR’S NOTE: This remained true for a alarmingly long period of time]. So unfettered by the limitations brought about by cohesive storytelling, my brain went to work filling in the gaps of world.
My mind quickly took hold of the city’s undergrounded-ness. We had people powering above and people doing jobs within, but we had no one digging. “So how does the city grow?” I asked myself. This being sci-fi, there was only one answer: molepeople.
To be fair, molepeople didn’t just pop out of thin air and appear fully formed in my head while on a train. I am not the author of English Boy Wizard. For years, I had been writing pieces for my own amusement under a mad scientist alter ego and it just so happens I had finished an essay in which I used molepeople to solve a current political conundrum. One could say, I had molepeople on the brain. So when it came to digging the tunnels of Our Fair City, who else could do it, but molepeople.
Molepeople or antpeople. Antpeople or molepeople. I went back and forth on which I liked better. I mean the molepeople were molepeople, but antpeople were antpeople. I decided to put off deciding for a bit. The point was I had my in, because who else could dig the tunnels of Our Fair City except mole(ant)people.
Well, people actually.
You see, as Clayton went more in depth about the world a few hours later, he explained that tunnels were dug by people in great big steam-punky machines. Think the powerloaders from Aliens or a Gundam Wing, if you know what that is. Yeah, things like that. I believe they all had Mohawks and dyed hair to delineate themselves as diggers and their machines were fixed by wrenches, or mechanics, which was what one main character wanted to be.
I was…crushed. This is what happens when I plot too early. I believe my exact thoughts were “Shashum frashum…not as good as my idea…mumble grumble.” Sure, I had a few other ideas, but none were as cool or iconic as molepeople or antpeople. And none inspired me near as much. I couldn’t just abandon it.
I decided to plow ahead with the idea I had started with. To give myself some space, I decided that if it came up, the moles/ants would be dealing with problems too menial for the diggers. Not building tunnels per se, but doing small things: filling potholes and fixing wall holes. Patch jobs, if you will [EDITOR’S NOTE: This clearly wasn’t a problem: you’ll notice that the Molepeople have become a cornerstone of the Our Fair City world].
Having decided only molepeople could be made to do the tedious, little things, I reluctantly said goodbye to the antpeople. I didn’t wanna though. I liked the idea. I liked the image. I really, really wanted them both. “Well, why the hell not?” I asked myself, “This isn’t real life.”
But how to fit them in?
“What if the molepeople don’t believe in the antpeople?” chimed in the part of my brain that deals in irony.
“And what if the two molepeople are in love?” suggested the part of me that’s a great big Gilmore Girl loving softie.
“And what if the antpeople aren’t actually seen, but we have a detective character make a bunch of ant jokes to make it clear they exist?” added the part of me that loves Sherlock Holmes.
“Only if I can partially name him after my dad,” said a part of me that loves naming characters after my dad.
In a few days, I took all of these parts of me, sat down at a computer, played some World of Warcraft until I got bored and then wrote a script [EDITOR’S NOTE: You may be unsuprised to learn that much of Our Fair City has been dreamed up in between games of the Battlestar Gallactica Board game, Arkham Horror, Citadels, Star Trek Online, and various other pastimes. We also play a particularly mixed game of Ultimate Frisbee].
I showed this script to Clayton. He mumbled something that I think went like this “Shashum frashum…the diggers…mumble grumble…but this is good too I guess.” Thus, “The Patch Job” was born.