As a science-fiction novelist, and a proudly self-published one, I’m fortunate in having plenty of ideas for new projects. Plots present in observation of life, often I will remember a dream and that will set me going. If it doesn’t work out as a book, it could always make a short story. I jot down a few notes and I can come back to it anytime.
However I have noticed a trend, as my work becomes more widely read, and that is being given plot ideas to extend my already published titles with sequels and prequels and spin-offs. These come from me reading the manuscript and spotting details, from my editor and from readers and reviewers.
My first book, Freefall, had a few things in it that I considered in my naiveté to be no more than attention grabbing, enigmatic statements. Of course, now I know better, all that happened was that they worked in a way that I hadn’t considered, people actually wanted to know more about them. And so the prequel Myra was born, I have made a full novel out of a throwaway remark, a paragraph on P12.
“No matter how many times I hear the voice – it’s Myra by the way, it reminds me of the happy times. When she had put her voice print on the computer she said it was so she could order me around. It must be fifteen years ago, but I sometimes look over my shoulder expecting to see her in the hatchway. You can still see the faint dent in the panel if you look closely, I try not to. The paint was worn there; I rubbed it every time I passed.”
See what I mean? I’ve just spent 75,000 words explaining that dent!
Myra is available now; the artist who did that amazing cover came up with a suggestion while we were working on the concept that made such perfect sense that I just had to include it in the finished story. And it led me logically into what will be the third part of the Dave Travise Trilogy as I’m now (rather grandly) calling it. But that’s another job.
And another comment that I found in Freefall has given me an idea for a spin-off, with characters that are alluded to in passing getting their story told. Survive, the Tale of Ballantyne Alysom, is in development.
And it hasn’t stopped there; my editor read the first draft of The Rocks of Aserol and said, “Presumably there’s a sequel? If not, why not?” Well now there is, or at least there will be. At the last count, I have just over 50,000 words of what I’m calling “A new life in Ventis.” This will tell the story of the aftermath of events in the first book. Expect a lot of surprises when it’s published, hopefully that will be later this year.
A reviewer suggested a spin-off from Ribbonworld; (I had already worked out a sequel for myself) and then another person who had bought the book suggested yet another plot line that could be explored. They both go together by some weird chance, So that will be three books in that series if I can get around to writing them.
My next release, Andorra Pet and the Oort Cloud café, will be out in June 2017 and comes from a short story I wrote. I wondered what could happen to the characters in the situation they found themselves, and the novel was the result. And that’s led to a sequel, which has given me other ideas. Andorra is turning into cross between Miss Marple and Agatha Raisin in space. You can find Chapter 1 HERE
It’s very nice to think that I’ve got people’s attention. I can’t believe it sometimes, that a reader is that engrossed in the contents of my imagination that they want to know more. That I’ve managed to interest them enough that they can imagine how my worlds could develop. And that they want to know more about my characters pasts (or futures) from what I have written. At first, I wondered if it meant that I hadn’t done enough; then I realised that it really meant that I hadn’t done too much.
Incidentally, the current list of my Works in Progress stands at eight, that’s probably five or six years of work. And only two of them have been my own ideas. The good part about having so many projects is that, when I get fed up with writing one book, or the flow stops, I can swap over to another. I find that it keeps me from getting bored.
So if you don’t want me to get bored, keep reading the books and keep the ideas coming in. With your input, who knows where we might end up?