Origins of a Story

If you’ve never been to Sacramento: go. If you don’t like walking, buy some new shoes and suck it up.

Walking around Sacramento in 1993 with my then-best-friend Alex Knepper, we crisscrossed the downtown maze of high elms, one-way streets and broad, clean alleys, talking about who we are, where we came from, our own, private, secret histories.

We talked about Hindu mythology, reincarnation, Buddhist beliefs, Greek myth, Norse Cycles. We were struck, in the drunk afternoon light, by the similarities we imagined between all those things.

We wondered about internal and external mythology.

And Mannheim was born. Although Alex never took part in the storytelling that followed, I feel I owe her credit.

Origins of a Book

There’s a whole segment in the middle there (between forming the idea with Alex and a couple years of collaborative storytelling with some great friends) that I’m skipping.

Years later, Greg was moved to create a fiction account of the story. He did some great work with a mutual friend of ours, but the effort didn’t end up going anywhere.

A few years after that, we were kicking around Greg’s house, and reminiscing over “those good old days” of Mannheim. We talked about the chapters Greg had written, and what we remembered about the original stories.

We were both struck by the strength of the memories after all these years, and the ideas that seemed to stand out from the story, the sort of fundamental struggles of friendship, identity, and then just the wild craziness that came out of that story. The sort of thing where you spend hours and hours climbing a beautiful, wild mountain… and when you get to the top, you realize you’re looking at a Starbuck’s on the Interstate.

Greg and I talked about collaborative work – a passion of mine – and writing books – a passion of his. The next week, Greg sent me “a crappy intro chapter” told by Skye Jackson, and wondered what it would be like if I gave it a try myself.

It’s about 3 years later, and Mannheim has transformed and transfigured the original story into something better, something fully its own.

I like it. I hope you will too.

– Pol

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