Noble Blog Series #4: A New Challenger Has Entered the Ring!

SPOILER WARNING: This blog contains references to previous events from the Noble series.

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Within the opening lines of Noble, we’re introduced to Jane Emmett: A troubled teenager from Ashley Falls. However, her story, like many others in the series, is connected to Alyssa Noble. The main story arc has centered on Alyssa because her existence in the world has driven the motivations of many other forces, both natural and supernatural. Miller, Puckett, the Rayburn family, Icarus, the Seda, the Civil Parrish—Alyssa played a hand in all of their fates.

As far as antagonists go, Alyssa Noble is a bit of an enigma to me, even though I created her. Sure, she’s diabolical, and has left a trail of carnage throughout the series, but at the end of the day, she’s fighting for the survival of her kind by any means necessary. Although she is incapable of expressing it through words, I imagine she is quite lonely. I don’t loathe her. In fact, I have empathy for her.

As crucial as Alyssa is to the plot, we find out in Bloodlines that there are other sinister players lurking in the shadows—watching… waiting. During the raid on a chemist’s lab in Savannah, the team uncovers first traces of a man named Gibbard through a series of old letters. This new lead, while intriguing, is separate from the case they’re investigating, so, Puckett decides to do some digging on his own. By the closing moments of Bloodlines, we have a connection: Rayburn and Gibbard.

As dangerous as Alyssa has been, her perilous ways take a backseat in New World Order, allowing an even deadlier foe to emerge: Father Gibbard. Operating under the radar of the FBI, Gibbard quietly served as architect to a master plan, devoting ninety years of his life to orchestrating the end of the world. The grand finale is set for September 30, 2014… all he needs now is the last piece of the puzzle.

What’s the deal with the name Gibbard?

Some readers may have noticed that this is not the first time Gibbard’s name has shown up in my books. It’s not laziness, I swear. 🙂 In truth, I’ve added a character named Gibbard to each of my books as an homage to Death Cab For Cutie’s front man, Ben Gibbard, who is something of an inspiration for me.

The first appearance of Gibbard’s name popped up in the original Noble. He was the harmless Smith family chauffeur that drove Miller to his meeting with Phillip’s father. And that was my plan, really: Find some innocuous character in the story and sneak the name in as an Easter egg, the same way as Final Fantasy had done with “Cid.” However, that plan backfired when I got to Bloodlines.

If I’m being honest, I had no idea where the story would go next after Bloodlines. It wasn’t until I neared the end that I came up with the idea for New World Order. I realized that with Alyssa dealt with, I needed a new enemy to replace her. Of course, Scythe fit that role handsomely, but I didn’t think that was enough for an entire book. That’s when I reviewed previous events in the story and started brainstorming.

The chemist in Savannah’s story made the most sense. He didn’t make a very compelling antagonist on his own, so I fleshed out a backstory for him. What was his motivation? Was he just following orders? If so, who was giving those orders, and what was their end game? Before I knew it, my imagination had been sparked, and I had enough to expand upon.

The only problem was that the chemist took his orders from Gibbard. I couldn’t go back, though. I was already too in love with the idea. By complete accident, I’d just given a starring role to my innocuous character used to sneak in my signature Easter egg. Whoops.

So, there you have it: The story behind the repeated presence of Gibbard, and his unplanned rise to power in New World Order. A valuable lesson has been learned, and we have likely seen the last of the Gibbard name in my books going forward. I’m sure Ben would prefer it that way as well. 🙂

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