The Creation of Vigilante’s Light

Tomorrow, my debut novel, Vigilante’s Light, sees its official release. To say I’m ecstatic is an understatement; I’ve been working toward this for years, and have wanted to be an author since I was around nine years old. I have written everything from poetry to short stories, fan fiction to full-length novels, and publishing a full-length novel has been my goal all along. And now, it’s a day away from happening.

Vigilante’s Light has been a story that I’ve had in mind for years. It first took shape in the summer of 2016. I was a big fan of the show Arrow, something that pretty much everybody probably knows about me by now. That summer, I had been reading a series of books by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins that was about a guy who was basically a Christian fiction version of Indiana Jones, uncovering treasures such as Noah’s Ark and the brass serpent of Moses. Reading that book, I thought, “If there can be a Christian fiction version, why can’t there be Christian fiction superheroes?” At the time, the only one I was aware of was Bibleman, and he doesn’t quite fit the tone I’m shooting for, for obvious reasons.

So, I began to formulate an idea of a Christian superhero of my own. Taking inspiration from Arrow, I also looked to a couple of other sources: the movie Beyond the Mask, a Christian movie about a vigilante during the Revolutionary War, and the music video of the for King and Country song “Shoulders,” which featured a man (or angel) in a hooded white outfit saving people in need. In particular, I was inspired by the end of that music video, which had a shot of the hooded man up high, looking out over his city.

The shot of the hooded man from the music video of Shoulders by for King and Country.

Okay, I thought, I’m going to do this.

I started out with a basic outline and a working title: The Crusade. Set in Boston, this story would follow the adventures of Jason Kingsley, Dean Sterling, and Jolie Anderson as they sought to protect the city from crime. Jason was a graduate of a Bible college and had recently become a pastor. He was the wealthy son of a pair of part-time biblical historians and owners of Kingsley Technologies, and lived alone in a high-rise in the city. Jason was an expert martial artist, having practiced several different forms of martial arts in foreign countries that he’d taken mission trips to over the years. Jason would see the crime infesting the city and, inspired by a masked hero known as the Crusader, Jason would take up crime fighting and, ultimately the mantle of the Crusader, which he would inherit from the older vigilante. My plan was for Jason to square off with a Romanian mobster, inspired by another of my favorite shows, NCIS: Los Angeles, which had recently featured a Romanian crime family.

The Crusade didn’t make it past 42 pages. Although the idea was near to my heart, I didn’t have a grasp on the characters, their motivations, or even simple things like the geography of the city of Boston needed to finish the story. And, to be honest, it was really cheesy. I’ve still got those 42 pages stored in my computer to remind myself of where I started, and it gives me a good laugh (or a good cringe) whenever I look back at it.

Charlie Cox’s Daredevil, a major influence on Vigilante’s Light.

Fast forward to the fall of 2018. Having recently graduated college, I found myself again inspired to write. Arrow was starting its seventh season, and I was big into it. I had also started watching Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix, which had a similar feel. So, one day, I decided to give The Crusade another shot. With a new title (which was brainstormed through the Realm Makers Consortium writing group), a change in the protagonist’s name (Jason Kingsley became Gideon Turner), and a fictional city whose geography I could create myself (Sojourn City), I started fresh from page one with a better grasp of where I wanted this story to go and who I wanted these characters to be. Jolie and Dean stayed mostly the same. Gideon shifted from a pastor to a doctor and scientist. The Crusader remained behind, as did the crime-laden city and even the Romanian mobster, which had more meaning for me than ever because the girl I was dating, the girl I ended up marrying, was from a family of Romanian missionaries.

All in all, by the time Vigilante’s Light reached manuscript status, it contained barely five pages of the content that had been in those 42 pages of The Crusade. And, in editing, that has been chopped down to maybe a handful of paragraphs. I decided to give Gideon superpowers, and I came up with his own distinctive superhero mantle: the Seraph. I shifted his wealthy parents to Dean, and now the two best friends lived together. Kingsley Technologies became Sterling Enterprises, where Gideon works in the lab as a scientist.

And now, over two years later, Vigilante’s Light is finally here. In a matter of hours, anyone in the world can get their hands on this book, this story that has been stewing in my mind for the entirety of my twenties. I’m beyond excited, and I can’t wait to see what the world thinks of it. I’ve known the cast of Vigilante’s Light for years. Tomorrow, you all get to meet them. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

God Bless.

-Jake Tyson

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