Once I decided the Heartman & Songstress fairytale would carry Side B, I knew it needed an epic conclusion. This 40 page chapter is by far the longest in the L Extreme book—essentially a standalone novella when combined with the four 4-page shorties that precede it.
My original idea was to continue the silent-film nature of the other Heartman & Songstress chapters, but I abandoned that in favor of foreshadowing Heartman + Benji’s connection in advance of the reveal. (Also, you can’t really have a karaoke battle with characters who can’t speak, can you?)
Evilon’s appearance as the villain was completely unplanned until I signed his name to the King’s note. It was a fun little cameo based on a bit from LILILIL where Chocolon mentions that Evilon “is not that evil anymore.” I laughed when I wrote it, and my brain went like this:
He’s not that evil anymore.
This is the story of when he was evil.
A Love Extreme as a prequel to LILILIL.
Maybe that’s the title: A LIL EXTREME
In LILILIL the future is behind us and the past is all we can see.
So it’s a sequel to LILILIL and a prequel to A Love Extreme.
A prequel can be an origin story.
They both have the same narrator.
So Frank is really…whoa!!!!!!!!!!
I just think I figured out what it’s really all about…
And just like that, the building blocks for the rest of the story fell into place.
- “…signals received from behind the veil of dreams…” is partly foreshadowing, partly tying the concept album Spirit Guide into the mythology.
- Underlining the words in Evilon’s letter calls back to a Muscadine lyric: “And every word he wrote is underlined.” Not underlining the Ls in the note is an easter egg for the observant.
- More riffing on LILILIL with “Seeking assistance wasn’t difficult. The challenge was deciding who to solicit.” Heartman deciding who not to recruit from the body is one of my favorite parts.
- Hallux is the medical term for your big toe. Roman battalions were knows as Miles, the root of the word Military. Hence Miles Hallux, commander of Jessica’s footsoliders.
- Remember Jessica’s supermarket magic trick where she made the list disappear? She ate it, hence it’s in the body now. How’d it shrink down to Heartman & Hallux size? That’s not for you to know…
- Foot Force Five by Five is a nod to Fox Force Five from Pulp Fiction.
- The Twister bit was inspired by a question asked of Benji Hughes in an interview with Freaker USA. It also tied in well with the existing Clue references from “Why Do These Parties Always End the Same Way?”
- I tried the invoke a mix of Quantum Leap (“smack dab in the center of the imaging chamber”) and Timely Persuasion (“as if he had left the body and become Jessica, seeing what she saw”) in describing how the eye portals worked. (Technically QL inspired TP so it’s all the same, though QL never really described how the effect worked.)
- “Heartman thought he spotted something in the corner of Benji’s iris” is a paraphrase of “It made the moon just out of reach, I saw it trapped there in your eye” from “The Beach.”
- “…a few anonymous foot digits from witness toeprection” is my favorite bit of groan-worthy punny wordplay. (It will also be a Googlewhack as soon as this post is indexed.)
- Hallux’s idea of playing footsies to find a path between bodies is me telling the reader I did think of other possibilities too, but in an effort to keep things family friendly I didn’t go there. As the narrator says, “Are you thinking of other pairs of body parts right now? Regardless of whether those are male or female, I’m not going there.”
- Yes, I recognize the hypocrisy in making this chapter a single 40 page epic but splitting the related commentary posts into separate parts. See you in part II 🙂
PS: Splitting this into parts gives me an excuse to use different videos at the end of each. The official Girl in the Tower music video is at the end of the “Mmmmmmm” post. Here’s a short film with the song as its soundtrack.