Wayland Snowball – The Birth of An Anti-Hero

Some say Wayland Snowball is ‘quirky.’ They also say I was eating a certain type of fungus when writing this novel. I’ll admit it’s a bit ‘out there’, but there’s nothing illicit in its origins.
Steve Dean on his novel Wayland Snowball

Some say Wayland Snowball is ‘quirky.’ They also say I was eating a certain type of fungus when writing this novel. I’ll admit it’s a bit ‘out there’, but there’s nothing illicit in its origins.

A fast car, huge amounts of money, and gorgeous women with big… personalities is what Wayland Snowball wants from life. A work-shy loser and mediocrity, he only gets drunk and never misses a chance to upset people and try to find a way for his only friend to lose his virginity. No one is surprised when he’s transferred to a remote colony on a distant planet as punishment. After a series of misadventures, Wayland gets lost in the dense jungle. Is this the end, or just the beginning? With a bit of luck, lots of luck, and unbelievable amounts of luck, Wayland Snowball’s life at the bottom of the social and sexual ladder takes a turn for the better. Not only does his somewhat challenged brain gradually start to function better, but his encounters with the opposite sex improve remarkably. Which of two gorgeous women, Honee or Robyn, will end up being the one? Does he have to even make that choice? Sex is just a sweet cherry on top of a unique talent that Wayland discovers in himself, a talent sought after by the wealthy and powerful, and which could propel him towards fame, fortune, and as much fanny as he desires. 

Novels and other creative works can grow from the smallest of seeds. Sometimes it’s a plot idea, or a certain scene, or maybe a character trait. In this case, it was the name that came first and everything else followed after. Snowball is a genuine and distinguished surname, which possibly came from the words ‘snow’ and ‘bald’, meaning a white-haired person with a bald patch. I had the pleasure of meeting someone with this surname while working as an IT engineer in what seems another lifetime. She was neither bald nor white-haired.

Wayland is a shortened version of ‘Waylander’ the assassin from the novels by my favourite fantasy author the late David Gemmell. It was meant as a tribute to him, but I’m not sure how he would have taken it.

The next part arrived courtesy of a trip to the library. I was just leaving, clutching several SF and fantasy novels, and I glanced at a display of books on a side table. They were all maintenance manuals for various cars, including one entitled ‘The Servicing and Maintenance of…” The rest of the title is lost in the fog of time, but that was all I needed anyway. By the time I’d arrived home the name and the title had become linked in my mind, so I wrote it down, as all writers should, before I forgot it.

The next time I sat down to write it popped into my head and just wouldn’t leave. I had no idea where it would lead at the time, I had nothing except that one sentence. So, I thought about it for a while and realized the word ‘service’ was a euphemism for a certain intimate act. That certainly set the ball rolling, and the tone for the rest of the novel. So, it was going to be an adult SF novel, a comedy adventure, because they’re the best kind.

I decided Wayland was a young man, who wanted servicing and needed maintenance, i.e. a better lifestyle. The reason he wasn’t getting either was because he was a shiftless loser who blamed everyone but himself for his woes. Not at all hero material, I think you’ll agree, but we can all change, given the opportunity.

He needed a sidekick of course, but someone even sadder than himself. It’s should be obvious to those of you above a certain age who inspired the name, I just reversed several of his character traits to end up with Marlo Brandon. Once I played around with the idea of comedy names, I continued it when naming the other characters, such as Robyn Udd and Honee T’nel.

The rest of the story flowed quite easily from there, with me setting up double entendres to aim towards. I knew in the end Wayland had to enjoy some success or the whole journey would have been for nothing. Although you could argue it wasn’t by his own hand, I say he seized the opportunities presented to him, which is something many of us don’t do, so good for him! Although this novel is just a bit of fun and not to be taken seriously, I did put in some deeper moments people might miss. I’m strangely proud of Sean O’Meara, who is actually of African and Jamaican origin but has a Celtic name, thus subverting the reader’s expectations. He was inspired by a woman I knew who was of African descent but had a very Scottish sounding name. She was also a maven of the double entendre, and always managed to keep a straight face while doing it.


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