How boring of a name for something with so much grandeur! That was an intentional design – the Assembly is a social experiment where people can shed their every day selves and let the brilliant flames inside be seen on the outside. Boring exterior with an interesting subtext. The name and the function are perfect for each other.
While I was conceptualizing “Days of the Phoenix,” the most broad version of the concept was “social experiment,” and “being who you are without aesthetics getting in the way.” It didn’t have to be an assembly, it could have been anything: a bunch of introverts getting together to play smash mouth basketball, drag rang in a big store parking lot, an MMORPG, or an actual experiment where people’s brain chemicals were being altered. A few simple criteria had to be met: it had to be where people, who wouldn’t associate with each other otherwise, were grouped together; the second criteria had to be a platform where people could reveal their truest selves.
To sate your interest without giving away too much: The Assembly is a destination. It’s held inside of a building where people get together and aesthetics and social class and whatever else haunts someone socially does not exist.
The decision to make it a physical experience was inspired by festivals akin to the Burning Man; wild colors, wild personalities, wild events. One of the most interesting facets of the Burn Culture, to me, is how regular those folks’ actual lives are. They are ivy league educated, hold positions of career prominence, and they still have these wild experiences in preference, that blew my mind. When I decided that it would be a physical experiment like that, then I had to make another choice: inside or outside. I chose to go with an inside location, to further compliment the theme and metaphor; there was a wild energy inside, kept within the confines of a physical shell.
Ask anyone, conflict is the story. When you have a protagonist who is so afflicted by anxiety, something like a big congregation of human bodies is a singular hell for that person. Enter: conflict. Remember last week when I told you about the protagonist’s friend Simon? Simon is introducing our main character to this agony and it’s for the main character’s own good! The Assembly, itself, has a personality. It has history and tangible consternation – the Assembly, as an entity, inflicts harm and provides comfort. People love using the word “Synergy,” and I don’t think anyone realizes that the concept doesn’t always have to be positive. What if the culmination of individual negativities results in a super negativity? Something to consider.
It might not seem like it, but I’ve dealt with anxiety a lot myself – it is entirely possible that somewhere deep inside, I was hoping for some kind of magic experiment to make me not anxious and make me outgoing. I can assure you that it’s not that easy, for anyone. Everyone in the book struggles with something, just like we all do.
I can tell you that the Assembly changes everyone, it’s up to you to decide if those changes are good or bad. I’d like to know how the Assembly would change you – be sure to tell me after you’ve read “Days of the Phoenix” and be sure to pick up your copy on May 7th, only at Amazon.Com!