Author’s Commentary on "With Enemies Like These" in Lawyers in Hell.

This was my story in the new Heroes in Hell book:  Lawyers in Hell. It was commissioned for the German webzine “Zauberspeigel” and published there August 11th:

Authors’ Commentary on
»With Enemies Like These,«
 a story in Lawyers in Hell

Michael Z. Williamson first approached me about writing for the Lawyers in Hell, with Janet Morris’ approval, of course.  I had had little exposure to the Heroes in Hell series before that—a short by Gregory Benford in one of the “Nebula Winners” volumes and a “fix up” (a novel made by editing several shorter works together) of Robert Silverberg’s Gilgamesh stories.  But that was enough to show that the world was different from the concept of Hell I’d grown up with.  It would have been very difficult to write interesting stories in that concept: “And they were tortured for all time. The end.”

With a basic idea of the world, I needed characters.  The first was easy.  One of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s quotes was personally important to me: “If a man neglect to enforce his rights he cannot complain if, after a while, the law follows his example.” So I had one character.  The basic plot was one I had wanted to use for some time, and it’s a classic:  two enemies forced to work together for mutual survival.
I wanted to do a little more with that plot, though.  I wanted to use an opponent who was a “mirror image” of the protagonist.  And so I found William Dunlop Simpson.  Both were US Civil War veterans, Holmes for the Union, Simpson for the Confederacy. 

Both were lawyers.  Holmes became a US Supreme Court Justice.  Simpson a South Carolina State Supreme Court Justice.

I had two characters and a basic plot device so I needed a setting.  As I said, I wasn’t very familiar with the Heroes in Hell series so I didn’t feel comfortable working in the main settings.  So I asked if I could maybe have my characters “fall into” another Hell, the Norse Niflehel with which I had some familiarity through an interest in the Asatru religion.  Janet approved the idea and from that point on the story just wrote itself.

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