The Outsider Ch. 00bycaligula97236©
"The Outsider" is my sixth novel and follows the lives of two protagonists, Mike Sinclair and Ruthie Burns. Mike Sinclair appeared briefly in the beginning chapters of "The Freshman" as Lisa Campbell's original boyfriend, but I had Lisa break up with him and banished him to California when I felt that his presence in the novel was slowing down the plot. Mike continued to stay in the back of my mind as a possible future protagonist however, assuming that I ever wanted to write a story that takes place in California.
Ruthie is a totally new character, but elements of her appear in the characters of previous novels: most notably Kathleen from "The Pledge Mistress" and Wendy Li from "The Wanderings of Amy". I created Ruthie because I am interested in using her to explore serious topics such as non-verbal communication disorder, depression, suicidal fantasies, the impact of religion, struggles with sexuality, and class resentment. From the beginning the reader will know that Ruthie is at odds with early 21st Century U.S. society. She is an outcast, and in the story serves as a metaphor of a society that created her and then rejected her. Mike finds himself in a similar situation, although not to the extreme that Ruthie does.
I am fully aware that my newest novel is not for everyone who visits this website. It might disappoint some of the readers of my previous novels, because the world of erotic fantasy that I have created in the previous works of fiction is not part of the setting in which Mike and Ruthie must make their way through life. Some of the places and characters of my previous novels (most notably Lisa Campbell from "The Freshman") are mentioned in passing, but are not central to the development of "The Outsider".
"The Outsider" was my most deliberate attempt to write a serious novel instead of a story concentrating on sexual fantasy and alternate reality. There is not much action or adventure, because the novel deals with the story of a friendship and the exploration of two lives against the backdrop of a decaying society. I did include some sexual scenes in the story, but purpose of the scenes was to further the plot. I commented to a reader that my previous novels were erotic stories with some political perspective and social commentary included as part of the backdrop, while "The Outsider is a novel focusing on social issues and political commentary with some eroticism mixed in.
The project strives to examine the decline of the United States from the perspectives of Mike and Ruthie, and by extension their families. This is another difference between "The Outsider" and my previous novels: in my previous projects my characters all have families, but usually family members are not central to the main plot. In "The Outsider" the parents of Mike and Ruthie are much more important for what happens to my two protagonists, so I examine their lives and thoughts more thoroughly. I also go into more detailed descriptions of my protagonists' jobs, especially Mike's job, for reasons that will be clear at the end of the story.
In the novel my characters make some personal choices that some readers will find disturbing. I tried to neither justify my characters nor criticize them, but I do try to explain the circumstances that surrounded their decisions. I leave it up to the reader to determine whether the actions taken by Mike, Ruthie, and their parents were "good" or "bad".
I tried not to judge my characters and their actions, but I make no apologies for judging what is going on in the United States. I am horrified by the impact that globalization, commercialized evangelical Christianity, and the rise of mega-corporations such as Walmart have had on US society. I am just old enough to have seen how the US was before globalization and very strongly feel that nothing in the US has changed for the better since 1980. I feel that the changes in the US have destroyed the lives of the most worth-while and productive people in our country, and that old values such as the work ethic are no longer relevant. These opinions are reflected throughout the narrative of my sixth novel.
My fictional corporation Mega-Town Associates makes an important appearance as part of the story's backdrop. Mega-Town Associates is loosely based on the real-life corporation Walmart, but it also is a representation of conglomerate-based economics and the "anything goes as long as it is profitable" philosophy. I have been accused by some readers of being against capitalism. I am not, but I am against the amoral capitalism practiced by predatory corporations such as Walmart.
Another difference that readers will notice between "The Outsider" and previous novels is my treatment of religion. In my Danubia novels I am creating a world of alternate reality, of which the Danubian Church is a component of that fantasy. Because Danubia is a world that I created, I decided to create a state religion that makes sense for that society and populate it with well-meaning clerics that attempt to act in the best interests of their followers. I even leave open the possibility that the supernatural world can communicate with the realm of the living.
In "The Outsider" I am not kind to religion. Ruthie and Mike come from different Christian denominations, but I make it clear that I do not feel that religion has been a positive influence in either of their lives. I am fully aware that my views on religion will bother some readers. However, I am drawing from my own experiences when I talk about both Mike's church and Ruthie's church.
All places mentioned in the novel, with the exception of Davenport State University and a very brief mention of Danubia, exist in real life and are locations that I have actually lived in or visited. (Even Davenport, California is a real place; it's just that in real life there is no university there). Davenport State University is loosely based on the real one in Santa Cruz, but it is fictionalized because I don't want to deal with UCSC alumni telling me that this or that detail about their university is inaccurate. With everything else I attempted to keep the details of the story's setting in Central California as close to real life as possible.