The Phantom? Menace.

I can’t remember when exactly I first got the idea to do a prequel series to The Blackthornes.  Probably while I was still writing the original, which could have been some time in 2009 (season 4).  I do know that a prequel series (aside from any spin offs that I attempted to create or might create in the future) is the only way I feel this universe could go on.  That became clear in 2015 when I decided to scrap the ill-fated 7th season. In that forced continuation of the series, nothing came easy, and that was always the tell-tale sign to me that it just wasn’t meant to be.  I loved the way the series originally ended and I think it went out on a high, so the only way to maintain that seemed to be foregoing all attempts at a “new” season.  My love of the story and the characters and the history I’d woven, though, was still as strong as ever, so a prequel series was the only thing that made sense.

I recall discussing this idea on a forum or something a while back and one faithful reader mentioned the fact that so much has already been told – both through exposition and through flashbacks over the years – that he couldn’t see where a retelling of all of that in a new series was necessary.  That point has stuck with me ever since.  Of course he was right – it would be redundant to retell the story of Nathan’s rape trial, or Suzanne being hypnotized by Victor and killing Troy, or James and Alex meeting for the first time.  So the decision came as to where to place the action of the story.  It had to be far enough away (time-wise) from the original series so that important events don’t intersect and demand a retelling.  But it also couldn’t be so far in the past that none of the characters would be familiar to the reader.  For a while I considered moving the action around to different years.  Sort of like a This is Us on steroids.  But to be honest, this sounded exhausting and like it would require way more mental capacity than I have, so that idea never left the ground.  In the end, smack dab in the middle of the 70’s seemed like the perfect time.  This is a few years before characters like James, Alex, Suzanne, Renee and others in that adults group showed up in town, so this leaves me with plenty of story to make up to fill in the gaps, both with characters you know, and new ones.

The real “stars” of this series, I suppose, if I had to pick them, are Jonas and Lola; maybe similar to James and Alex in the original.  It’s been fun writing them because we only saw extreme versions of them in The Blackthornes.  Lola acting like a senile old harpy, and Jonas as the powerhouse mogul in flashbacks.  We now get to see what they were like when they weren’t the subject of a Blackthorne flashback.

This will probably get some laughs, but when I was thinking of the cast and what characters I needed to create, I took inspiration from an unlikely source: The Phantom Menace.  Yes, Star Wars: Episode 1.  That Phantom Menace.  I say this because I only imagine what George Lucas’s thought process was when he was writing the prequels to Star Wars. Characters we had heard about but never saw, characters who were in the original but are now younger, and brand new characters we were meeting for the first time.  It’s silly, but this is the type of thinking I put myself through in developing this series.

The website is pretty similar design-wise in most ways to The Blackthornes.  I didn’t get very creative in making something completely new, because I’m not great at making website to begin with, and I’d rather spend the time on the writing process.  The banners and photos are given vintage filters in hopes of making them appear reminiscent to graphics from the 70’s, but other than that, it’s pretty straight forward.  I think it services the series well enough.

The title, Silver Shadows, pays homage to the often referred to “silver screen”; that is, films and Hollywood in general. And “shadows”, which to me represent the past, or other variations of ourselves or others.    I spent years going over ideas for what it could be called and I could have spent years more doing the same thing.  I’m pleased with the title and I think it encompasses everything I want the series to be.

Next week in the blog  I’ll dive into the characters and why I chose to have these ones specifically featured, and why others I didn’t.

Thanks again for reading.  In lieu of an actual forum, feel free to leave any comments, feedback, criticisms, or questions in the comment section below!

Until next time…


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2 Responses to The Phantom? Menace.

  1. Michael says:

    Welcome back, Andy! I’m always excited to see even a hint of a new project from you, and I remember when you dropped that one episode for Marina del Rey and I was hoping it’d grow into more — but this feels even more in your wheelhouse. I love, love, love the title and can’t really imagine anything more fitting, and it looks and feels like you’ve done the work to make this an expansion of The Blackthornes universe without retreading things. It’s totally accessible to completely new readers but has extra depth for those who know the original series. Really cool!

    It’s still early-going, so it’ll be interesting which characters and stories I lock into. At first blush, I’m obviously intrigued with the exploits of Jonas, Lola, and Jacqueline/Jackie because I ‘know’ them. I was surprised by how vulnerable Jackie came across. The postpartum depression and her complicated feelings about it felt very, well, real. Especially since she wanted a child and split with Nathan over that, only to resent or be unable to connect with the one she now has. And it’ll be interesting to see the evolution of Nathan — who was never one of my favorites in the original series, but I think part of that was because you always knew and connected with this younger, more rounded version of the character, but to me, he was just this creepy old sneering rapist. So getting to see him as more of a human being and a focal point intrigues me.

    Already enjoying Ladys a ton. She seems cuckoo! Can’t wait to see what she gets into.

    I love that you’re still doing these blogs, too. Adds so much depth to the reading experience. I’ll certainly be ready for episode 2…

    Congrats on the launch, and again, welcome back!

    • Administrator says:

      OMG Michael Ross, thank you so much for taking time to comment. Means a lot coming from you. You’ve always been a great supporter. Glad that you liked this first episode. This is a story I’ve wanted to write for a long time so I’m thrilled I am finally writing it. After the redacted 7th season of The Blackthornes, I needed a break, so I really took a while off from writing, and unfortunately, that included the spinoff, Marina del Rey. (Look out because that series may return in the future!)

      I purposefully haven’t created a major story for Nathan in the near future because of the sheer fact that his character was kind of icky, to be frank, so he’s not a big player in the beginning. Waiting to see if I can flesh out a character that is separate from how he ended up. So I totally get it. It’s a slippery slope when you’re backtracking with a character that you know how they end up.

      Ladys is based on a lady I met in Mexico while I volunteered with Habitat last year and absolutely loved her. I enjoy writing her so much, and her daughter, Alicia, too.

      I know it seems like lip-service at this point, but I do plan on catching up with Footprints very soon. Not just because you took the time to read and comment on my new series, although I’ve always found it to be etiquette in the web series world. But there are so few series left now. You, Dallas, and Bre have been so supportive. Life has been erratic the last few years, and I’m in a place now where I can focus on creativity. I hope to continue that. I know we can’t recreate the fertile years of the Epiguide, but maybe we can start with something new.

      Thank you again, friend. You are appreciated. 🙂


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