People often ask me if I based the character of Dada Roach on trump. I didn’t. I began writing WHEN THE LAST TREE DIES in early Spring of 2016. He was still the joke candidate then, the buffoon few took seriously. No one saw the hands in the background who greased up the strings, the greedy bottom feeders who knew an ignorant, narcissistic baby-man was the perfect tool for all their schemes.
These same puppet masters knew he embraced the racism that was an ugly secret America tried to hide from the world, the sickness they pretended wasn’t as bad as it was, the ugliness they thought was easily covered up with a few nips and tucks here and there. They were experts on how to use it to stay in power. They spent decades dividing the country from itself, creating us and them realities that benefited the privileged and the wealthy. They loved his racism because they often shared it themselves.
But more than anything, they saw his corruption, his mind-boggling stupidity, his cruelty and inability to feel empathy were the perfect distractions to cover up a multitude of their own crimes. They crawled from their Wall Street sewers, their oil-drenched bunkers, their hate-spewing churches, their gated cesspools of exclusion and dragged their totally inept puppet into the office of the presidency.
It’s a mistake to think there was an ideology behind their manipulations, that some inner fervor drove their perverse actions, or some patriotic fever propelled their outright disdain and destruction of democratic principles. The manipulators were motivated by only one thing: greed.
It drove them as nothing else drove them. It covered up their insecurities, their lack of awareness, their minimal gentleman C educations, their ugly, empty souls. Among them were a greater percentage of child molesters, racists, misogynists, and sociopaths, because as long as they could make money off each other, they looked away from the things that turned a normal person’s stomach.
But the important thing to realize, and what I wrote about in my first book, was that none of what they did, none of the enabling of an incompetent, useless bag of flesh they let loose to inflict so much damage on the world, was new. They weren’t the first to install an incompetent puppet as their plaything. They weren’t the only ones who stole from the poor to give to the rich. All tyrants are funded by the greedy.
History is full of such despots and their enablers who seized the opportunity for their own gain. trump and Dada Roach are one and the same in the sense that all tyrants are the same. They are all insecure, psychotic, narcissistic despots who surround themselves with sycophantic butt lickers. Dada Roach is an ugly archetype based on all the ugliness that came before him. So is trump. So are his enablers. So are those who own people like that because all tyrants have hidden masters. It’s the ugly truth they deny to themselves until the moment they are publicly hanged as their masters leave town under the cover of their demise.
The tyrants and events that create them don’t change, but the world I began writing the first book in did change. The mindless obedience to grifting preachers who co-opted religion to make themselves rich was coming out in the open. The opulence of their lives sprawled across social media and exposed the mansions built by those who struggled to survive.
It revealed the congregations who reached into their pockets not for salvation, but to feed greedy, obscenely wealthy preachers who convinced them from their tax-free megachurches that buying them mansions and private jets was the one true path to wealth. Greed became the new god and the desperate developed a powerful hunger for it.
The ugly god in my novel was based on the one religious cult leaders use to keep the more gullible of their congregation in line. Like their god, mine was not a holy man who preached love, compassion, and peace. He was a soulless, ugly manifestation of the emptiness inside those who needed a symbol to manipulate the cultists. He was cruel, controlling, and terrifying.
Like my god, their god was only a tool to inflict hate and divide the country from itself. Their god had enemies, harsh wrongs, and conditional rights. Their god picked the pockets of the stupid and the gullible so the rich could become richer. There was very little difference between Preacher Billy and Dada Roach, just as there was very little difference between them and what passed for preachers in this country. They were all the same kind of grifter, whether it’s your soul they picked or your pocket.
Underlying this spiritual ugliness was a vile racism that needed only a quick prodding from professional haters to ooze out from under the rock where it lay since it lost the Civil War. But it was no surprise it did. After all, America was the only country that embraced the symbols of the defeated, the Confederate and Nazi flags. Other countries realized the danger of letting images of the conquered fester in sight of the losers. They put them in museums like the relics they were.
Underlying the damage done by the tyrants and religious cults, is the damage inflicted on our environment. We are killing ourselves and the planet with pollution, with dirty water, and poisoned food. The unwillingness to acknowledge climate change and global warming are common threads woven through all my books. Denying or ignoring them will not make the problems go away. It will only accelerate the damage done to us and the planet.
And it was only a matter of time before the neglect of these issues met up with a virus that didn’t care about politics, race, economic status, or party affiliation. It was the perfect storm of greed, hate, and indifference meeting in one self-inflicted catastrophic event.
But this time, something happened to change the predictable path. The tyrants no longer led. The people quarantined in their homes with time to think, to pay attention, to share ideas and dreams with each other all over the world. They discovered their power and it helped them confront the ineptitude, the indifference of their leaders.
This is also a process that began to take place in my second book, WHEN THE LAST RIVER DIES. I wrote about the tools of recovery, specifically the use of music and love to heal the deep wounds of the devastated world the survivors inhabited. I wrote how they shared their songs to gain a sense of self and place, to reserve a place inside the history of a world that no longer resembled the one they once knew.
I saw this sharing come to life during the quarantine. Music, stories, art, dance, creativity, love and a sense of belonging began as a wave shared from homes all around the planet. The world began to experience so much together that was the same instead of different. The divisions became more apparent, more absurd, more unwanted, more unnecessary. The world came together and shared one common experience. There is no going back from that place. Everything that happens now and in the future will grow from that one shared moment in time.
That’s why, as I write the third and final book in my trilogy, WHEN THE LAST OCEAN DIES, I am much more aware of the time in which I write my words. The first two books were things I saw, fears I had, dreams I wanted to believe. I thought often I was alone in those things, that the world I saw was not dying, that hate was not consuming humanity, that we weren’t destroying each other for corporate masters who saw us as nothing more than tools to enrich their bank accounts. But I was right. The words I wrote were much more true than I ever anticipated.
That’s why I pay much more attention to what I’m writing now. It’s not just a fictional account of fantasies in my head. It is a piece of what will become a history of these times. It may never be a huge piece of it, but individual threads are still vital pieces of the tapestry. I am one of those threads and what I have to say, what I see of the world now, what I experience is also the story of my characters.
I was halfway through the book when the pandemic hit. I was writing about the difficulty my characters faced in finally accepting the world they once knew was gone forever. I remember how I struggled to explain what they felt when they finally accepted there was no normal to return to, when they accepted there was no back to come home to. I have been rewriting that section because now I know exactly how they felt. And because I want history to know how I felt during this time, what compelled me to write what I did, what I saw, what we all lived through together.
Kate Taylor’s Amazon Author Page
One day we will come out on the other side. But eventually we will understand as my characters come to understand, the other side is just that, the other side. Those who can adapt will survive. Those who can’t will be like the statues coming down all over the world. They’ll be left alone in pieces no one can put together again, because the paradigm shifted and they were unable to change with it.