(Started March 1998 – Finished August 1998)
I’VE often been asked about doing sequels of my work. It’s always nice to know someone enjoyed the book enough to crave more. If it hadn’t been for my friend Dr. Steve Sikora, who suggested that Kalyde return the magic bicycle to Danny, there wouldn’t be a sequel. Steve wanted to finish The Magic Bicycle knowing Danny and Murg could climb aboard any time and ride to adventure. Steve was right. This allowed me to write more adventures.
BUT what to write about? Had I left any loose ends? Yes — Spike. While it appeared Danny and Spike might co-exist, their enmity had certainly not been resolved. Life is like that, temporary endings. People have told me that one of the many things they enjoyed about The Magic Bicycle was that it didn’t end up all nice and neat and predictable.
SO I knew that in the second magic bicycle story Danny must resolve the “Spike problem.” I had to get into Spike’s head and into his abusive past. The beatings laid upon him by his stepfather would motivate him to escape to a better life. Is Spike evil? If so, was he born evil or made evil? The nature of evil has a rather long history, theologically and philosophically, and great stuff for Danny to ponder, somewhat akin to if he should change time.
IN the first story, Spike stole Kalyde II. In the second, he would steal it again, or at least a part of it, and learn to use the magic to create a monster bicycle — Grand Slam Slugger. What would a teenager who wanted to escape the past do with a magic bicycle, besides run away from home? What if you didn’t have anywhere to go? You’d need money to build a new life. Spike needs money. Originally, the story was to be called Stealing Time because Spike would use the magical monster bike to slip into the Smithsonian to steal precious artifacts. My wife and I thought it would be much more interesting to go back in time and obtain the artifacts. Since Spike is a big sports fan, it seemed obvious that he might steal sports memorabilia before it became valuable.
BASEBALL seems to have the richest past, so that seemed like a good choice. Baseballs signed by Babe Ruth seemed a great choice. Today they would be worth big bucks. His home runs would be worth even more, especially milestone round-trippers. It is interesting that this choice was made before the 1998 baseball season, when Roger Maris record fell to Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, both having magical seasons.
THE alien was such a draw in the first story, I figured kids wanted more aliens. Instead of Kah-laye-dee, who was very young, it seemed that the Cor-ror-o’lans would send someone older on a mission to befriend Danny and learn about humans. The Cor-ror-o’lans were bound to be curious. Earthlings shot them down, then one helped them. So are Earthlings a race of evil beings?
ENTER Kalyde’s sister, who had been studying Earth’s history. To show she’s been studying, I used classic quotes to accentuate her knowledge. I’d wanted to use quotes in something for a while, just as I had tasteless jokes in Vampire’s Kiss, and this seemed a perfect opportunity. Educational too. (Oops. I shouldn’t say that.) Anyway, my wife, Kat, found a the perfect book — And I Quote — “and easy to use, too!”
SO I had Spike steal the bicycle and go back through time. For a variety of reasons but to at least retrieve the missing starmetal, Danny would pursue.
I needed more suspense, so with the return of aliens came the return of the men in black, which I called Shadow Daggers. I still felt I needed something to add a darker aspect to Danny’s chase of Spike through time. What obstacle — something magical? In the first story, Danny briefly visited Merlin because the great wizard had accidentally caught him in a summoning spell. Remember, some believed Merlin lived backwards through time. Merlin’s greatest enemy was Morgan Le Fay. If the sorceress sensed the power of the magic bicycle, she would want it, crave it, do anything to get it! Ah ha!
OKAY, I had lots of elements. Who would the boys visit in the past? Plato and Aristotle worked perfectly because, thinking Spike was evil, Danny was curious about the nature of evil. From there, they were just a hop, skip and jump from Socrates. William Shakespeare, who many claim knew the human condition so well because he used all of life as a stage, seemed a good addition to Danny’s previous visit to H.G. Wells. And at Danny’s age, Shakespeare is being read. Shakespeare often plumbs the depths of the nature of Man. I also looked into Thomas Aquinas, a great philosopher and religious leader who had plenty to say about the nature of evil, but I decided that would be too preachy. I also considered Thomas Jefferson, but his actions conflicted with his words. I may save him for later, maybe for the third Magic Bicycle story.
I wanted a historical female character and looked into female philosophers. None jumped out at me, but Joan of Arc did. My sister Lynne confirmed it was a good choice. Joan of Arc is considered a good role model for young ladies (she’s also en vogue). Even more importantly for me, religious power is mystical, and Joan was French. Back then, the French really didn’t like the Britons, who were invading their country! A perfect nemesis for Morgan Le Fay!
IN total, I wanted more than just a long chase scene. I wanted Danny to face more dilemmas. He would have to deal with Spike and resolve their situation without violence and show how violence might just continue the feud. Furthermore, he would have to deal with a new gang, investigate the nature of “evil,” hide his secret from his best friends when his enemy knew the truth, and show the Cor-ror-o’lans that humans were worthy of friendship (big pressure on Danny here!). I had to make Spike three-dimensional so people might have conflicting emotions about Danny’s antagonist.
MY nephew, Evan, once said the sequel is never as good at the original. He changed his mind.
RIDE your imagination. Let it roll. Imagining is fun, and imagination pushes us beyond the bounds of our current knowledge to amazing discoveries.