Writing MS-13 as villain
A writing blog
When I first started writing Hell Spawn, I figured that I wasn't using any controversial bad guys when I threw in MS-13 as a throwaway character. I had heard of them back when I was taking a course on Organized Crime in 2003, and I then tripped over them in Vince Flynn's Consent to Kill.
I mean, these were bad guys that were one step away from being on a terrorist watch list in 2003. They’re a street gang that owns rocket propelled grenades. They had freaking military training. Their motto was "rape, control, kill."
Frankly, they’re wonderful, made to order minions for an action-adventure film -- you know, one of the faceless thugs that Ahhhnuld mowed down in droves.
And when I put in MS-13 … they were just going to be a random encounter. There would be no follow up from them. At all. They were one random encounter in the outline.
During my writing, I felt I needed another random encounter. The one in the outline was several chapters away, and there was a ton of exposition in this book.
Hey, let's have a small little encounter on the street...Hey, maybe that little encounter leads to the big encounter in a few chapters! That would be solid.
And, suddenly, MS-13 became a running subthreat and mini-boss in Hell Spawn.
Dang. That spiraled. The story of my writing life.
Anyway, a month after I finished the book, MS-13 had murdered several people not rock-throwing distance away from me.
I thought, "Hey, I'm ahead of the curve by a little." More often than not, someone does something that mirrors my books far too close for my comfort. If MS-13 were an emerging threat in real life, maybe they would be in the media by the time Hell Spawn released in September. That would be really, really lucky.
I finished writing Hell Spawn in November of 2017.
The state of the union in January 2018 featured MS-13, and Trump even had the parents of their New York victims at the State of the Union.....
So maybe they would make national headlines a little sooner than I thought.
But hey, they were already there. And they're MS-13. They've been bad guys for 15 years. Even CSI: Miami had their own, thinly veiled knockoff of MS-13.
Apparently, they're slightly more controversial than that now. One idiot accused me of being a “white nationslist” for having MS-13 as a villain. Obviously, I didn’t let him get to me, since he’s a glaring illiterate.
But overall, MS-13 become surprisingly large in the story thread. They're no where near main bad guy status, but boy, do they provide good shootouts.