The first novel I wrote was a children’s chapter book. The first version was 5,000 words, and I wrote it in a weekend. I spent the next year and a half or so learning enough to revise it into something publishable. It ended up around 11,000 words and will be out next year.
At the time, I knew absolutely nothing about writing fiction, so I set out to learn more and discovered forums, online classes, etc. Among other things, I took the ICL basic course. I ended up joining Savvy Authors at the end of 2010 when I discovered they had something called “Editpalooza” because I needed to edit “Relocated.”
Why did you decide to write a YA novel? Why science fiction?
I decided to write “Relocated” because I wanted to overcome my phobia about writing science fiction. I was intimidated by the world-building aspect of things. I decided to try for National Novel Writing Month (NaNo) 2010, figuring that I’d be committing to a month, and I was more than willing to do that.
I needed 50,000 words to “win,” and as the previous fiction I’d written was for kids, I decided this one would be also. I decided my main character would be 14, so it became a YA.
In preparing for NaNo, I did a lot of work on the world-building aspect and not much on the plot – I ended with a one-page outline, much of which ended going out the window as I started to write. I had the beginning (main character arrives on planet), an fairly vague idea of the middle (main character becomes involved with terrorists ) and the end (main character triumphs over terrorists, stays on planet). I thought a lot about the society, the culture, the beliefs, the art, the spiritual values, the main character’s issues, the theme of the book. Plot? Not so much.
I needed my aliens to look distinctive, so I made them Black, and my main character, a Terran, and his father became Black also. It allowed me to play with another aspect of conflict between the aliens and the Terrans.
The word-limit thing was another concern, so partly for that reason and partly because poetry is my first love, I created a poet as part of the universe of the novel and wrote 31 of his poems. I’m self-publishing the poems through CreateSpace. The title of the collection is “Sand in the Desert.” Eight of the poems appear in the novel.
3. What is Relocated about? Is it a one-off or part of a series?
When fourteen-year-old Keth’s dad is transferred to planet Aleyne, he doesn’t know what to expect. Certainly not to discover Dad grew up here, and studied with Ardaval, a noted Aleyni scholar.
On Aleyne, Keth’s psi ability develops. However, psi is illegal in the Terran Federation. After a dangerous encounter with two Terran teenagers, conflict erupts between Keth and his father. Keth seeks sanctuary with Ardaval.
Studying with the Aleyne scholar Keth learns the truth about his own heritage. After Keth’s friend’s father, Mazos, is kidnapped, Keth ignores the risks and attempts to free him. Little does he realize who will pay the cost as he becomes involved with terrorists.
As to the series thing, I’m in the process of editing two follow-ons, both of which feature secondary characters from “Relocated.” One is another YA which takes place right after the action of “Relocated,” and the other is an adult sci fi novel that takes place four years later.
You have been a fan of SF for many years. How has the genre changed in that time?
The universe has gotten larger. When I started reading sci fi, it was dominated by men – Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and a bit later, Samuel Delaney, Cordwainer Smith, and a host of others – and was largely “hard” sci fi. As I grew from a ten-year-old through my teen years and into my early twenties, novelists such as Octavia Butler, Ursula LeGuin, and Marion Zimmer Bradley began to widen the field to include less of focus on the hard science and more on the societal and personal aspects. In the years since, there has been an explosion in the fantasy fields: paranormal, urban fantasy, and the like didn’t exist as genres when I started reading.
I have a bunch of them. The authors I’ve named above: Heinlein, Asimov, Delaney, Cordwainer Smith, Octavia Butler, and Marion Zimmer Bradley are all favorites of mine. I’m a big fan of all of them. But the one who started me off was Robert A. Heinlein. I selected “Farmer in the Sky,” which was at the time newly published, for my tenth birthday. Juvenile sci fi as pretty much non-existent (except for the Heinlein juveniles) at the time, and I can’t remember any juveniles at all with female main characters. I turned ten in 1956, so this was a long time ago.
Any last words:
Thanks so much for having me on your blog.
For an excerpt and to pre-order from the publisher.