The untold origin story of Food Versus Evil (part 2)

Burgerquest 2 was the story I’d had in my heart since 2004 and the one I’d been looking at through the shop window as I was writing Burgerquest. And while I was penning (keyboarding?) the second, I was similarly building all these intricate ideas for five more sequels. Burgerquest 2 was “the dream”. But I’ve always had a funny way of delaying my dreams, and sometimes the honeymoon period of a new book isn’t enough to see you through the whole project.

I had two main goals throughout 2008: to put off looking for work, and to maintain unrealistic expectations about how quickly I could produce content. So over the year, as I was continuing Burgerquest 2, I was setting up a new website – The Fatman Door – and creating content for it whenever I could. Oh, and ‘08 was also the year I first watched all the Saw films to date. But that has nothing to do with my fiction or the rest of this article.

Anyhoo, I was planning to build up an online fanbase before releasing a novel, and aimed to have two distinct web serials taking off over the next two years. By the end of 2010, the first of these sagas was sputtering along the runway with updates few and far between and the other was a pipedream. Suffice it to say, I had little time and passion left for the Burgerquest series. It was still important to me, but there’s “Important stuff” and there’s “Stuff you’re actually doing” – and I already wasn’t doing the stuff in the “Stuff you’re actually doing” box (updating my website), so you can imagine the magnitude at which I wasn’t doing anything related to Burgerman.

By October 2010, my writing career was as ethereal as a Salsageists. I was the definition of someone who wasn’t living in the moment. I was dreaming of a future where all my best creations existed without actually working on any in the present.

Then, I rewatched a film that on its second viewing changed my life forever. And that movie was Saw IV.

Remember a few paragraphs ago where I said that the Saw films had nothing to do with the rest of the article? That was a lie. I was doing that thing where the author mentions something offhand, then that thing turns out to play a significant role later in the story. What’s that technique called again? I think it’s “the red herring’s Chekhov” or something.

See, those movies about the Jigsaw Killer testing people’s will to live had this methodical, intricate, interwoven plot stretching from one sequel into the next, as if the writers knew from Day 1 what they were going for, and the fourth film exemplified this. It reminded me of my intended overarching plot for the Burgerquest series. The night that I watched a detective getting his head crushed between two blocks of ice was the night that I paced the living room for hours, thinking about all my plans for burger-based sequels.

Over the next week, I conceived The Dude Mythology and my tentatively-titled “Project White”. October 2010 was like the Industrial Revolution of my brain, and I might’ve been more amped for these other projects than Burgerquest, but it made sense that I’d publish a book I’d already written before anything else, so I made it my goal to give Burgerquest’s first draft a few edits and publish it within a year.

Then I actually read over that first draft… Gee-willikers, Burgerman, talk about crappy writing! It was like looking back at a drawing I’d done in kindergarten and wondering how I’d ever been proud of it. My main intention for editing this draft was simply to make Burgerman angrier. At first glance, I knew an edit wouldn’t be enough. The book would need a whole damn rewrite.

I finished the first draft of Food Versus Evil: An Angry Burger’s Quest in early 2012, then spent the next two years revising it before finally self-publishing on the week of my 25th birthday. And four years after its release, I’m still happy with the final product.

The funny thing is that most of my ideas for sequels have since withered away. During Oct 2010, my grand vision for the series might’ve given me the resolve to see the first book through to publication, but most of those sequel plot-points feel silly when I think back on them. I’d say about 80% of Burgerquest 2’s plot is salvageable, even if the prose isn’t (I wrote a few more scenes of the sequel back in 2010, but never finished it, despite how close I was to the end). So the future of FVE is in flux. Though at the very least, a decade after its first incarnation as a blocky 2D videogame, this saga had burst its way into the public. Nothing can ever change that.

There are too many other sidenotes about this book’s conception that I could mention, but this post’s starting to drag, so I’ll just leave you with some fun facts:

Food Versus Evil is actually a pun on the phrase Dude Versus Evil, which was the working title for my other novel, The Hunger Games.

-Upon its release, FVE was banned in over eight-hundred countries. In fact, several European nations disbanded into even smaller nations, just so there’d be more countries that could outlaw the book.

-Burgerman was the most popular costume choice at FurryCon 2014, which has been linked to a number of cannibalism-based yiffing offences.

Food Versus Evil is available on Kindle, in paperback and through scream-a-gram.


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