My story Kernel of Truth is now out at Kzine. So as usual, here’s the background.
The story had its roots in Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which included a lengthy discussion of our crazy farm policy. To take one example, the reason corn and corn meal and corn syrup is in so many things is that our agriculture policy pays good subsidies for corn. So much so that farmers can’t help but plant lots of it, because that’s where the money is. So the food industry then has to use the corn surplus.
I started to wonder if there wasn’t a hidden agenda behind our national agriculture policies (I think it’s SOP for writer’s minds to imagine hidden agendas behind things). And of course, hidden agendas require someone take action if the agenda is exposed, or threatened … and so we open the story with a US senator very very dead, and not accidentally. And we bring on my er, heroes, Det. Suarez and Hal Whitcomb, Vice-President of Security for the “big agro” firm GreenLife.
I don’t think I’ve ever had two less appealing protagonists. Both careerists, willing to do what it takes to get along, even if what it takes isn’t perfectly ethical. Neither one particularly skilled—Suarez is competent, Whitcomb’s a management type (I have known good management types. He is not one). I think at some level I was influenced by an article written by John Westermann years ago in Writers Digest where he commented that if your protagonists are stumblebums and losers, it’s no surprise they miss all the clues.
Another influence was my politics. Everything I’ve ever read convinces me that despite the endless right-wing cries for government to be “run like a business,” big business isn’t much better, and no, people who get big salaries and corner offices are often not super-achievers and wealth-producers (it’s been known for at least 20 years that CEO pay doesn’t track performance). So my take on the inner workings of GreenLife is somewhat jaundiced.
This is my third story out this year. That really makes me look forward to getting back to fiction writing next month.