As a science-fiction novelist, and a proudly “indie” 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. And the ideas come from reviews and reader comments.
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 and is currently being edited, 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 will be published in early 2017. The artwork is in development, you can see the current version below. In fact, while we were discussing the concept the artist came up with a suggestion that made such perfect sense that I just had to include it in my second draft. And it leads me logically into what will be the third part of the Dave Travise Trilogy as I’m now (rather grandly) calling it.
And there is a spin-off on the way as well, featuring a location familiar to readers of Freefall, the Alysom Caves on Qister-Alu!
It’s called Survive and explains how the caves were discovered, the truth about Ballantyne Alysom and the true cost of exploration.
Myra is currently in edit and hopefully will be published in March 2017, you can get a peek at chapter 1 here. This is a rough idea of what to expect.
“I turned, and even though I didn’t immediately realize it, it was then that I fell in love.”
Meet Dave Travise, at least that’s who his identity chip says he is. An ex-navy man on the run; somehow he’s ended up in a dead man’s shoes; on a new ship and on the wrong side of the law.
With no way to prove his innocence, he’s just got to play along and keep his head down if he’s going to survive. As if he doesn’t have enough problems, now he’s fallen for Myra, the engineer on his new home.
Pursued by criminal gangs and keeping one jump ahead of everyone, Dave and his new shipmates are going to need all the luck in the Galaxy just to stay alive.
Myra tells the story of how Finn Douglas, naval officer; became Dave Travise, Galactic trader.”
So far beta reads have been positive, and have also given me a few ideas for expanding the story, in fact, they have added over 5,000 words so far from the first draft!
Here’s an example of their comments, “Utterly fantastic story! It had the rare, magical ability to suck me into the story itself! The pace was a nice mix of slower with lots of details, and faster with enough details to keep you in the story, but not too many that you feel like you’re drowning in words. Same as with the last book of yours that I read, exceptionally well done and very, very enjoyable.”
Provisionally titled Return to Aserol, it tells the story of what happened next and hopefully ties up a lot of loose ends. Naturally, there will still be plenty of cunning steampunk devices and action, and hopefully there will be a few surprises to come as well as we cross Norlandia in a tale of… well just wait and see!
Also in development are some Steampunk short stories, maybe a collection at some point.
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. So that will be four books in that series if I can get around to writing them. The second, and what was actually my idea, is called Jungle Green, it’s currently in edit.
The third, The lost Princess, is in the early stages of development, and the other one (Balcom 3) is just starting to move from being an idea into a rough plot.
Jungle Green features a lot of the same characters as Ribbonworld, but this time we’re investigating counterfeit drugs. And it goes something like this.
“TC is the wonder drug. Manufactured in secrecy at the edge of the galaxy, it makes world’s inhabitable, and Balcom Industrial lots of money. Then, suddenly, the people who need to take it to stay alive start to die!
For Layla Balcom, fresh from wresting control of her father’s inheritance from those who would have destroyed it, the news is devastating. What was said to be impossible is happening!
Searching for answers, she finds a web of lies and hostility. Then she is dragged into criminal activities and it becomes far more personal.
It’s time to sort the good from the bad and protect Layla’s legacy.”
And that’s before I start on my own ideas, Titles like Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Cafe, my lighthearted homage to the “Cupcake cafe on the beach” genre, which is my NaNoWriMo project this year. And my second book of short stories, which is about half completed so far.
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 realized that it really meant that I hadn’t done too much.
If you’ve been keeping up, you’ll see that the current list of my Works in Progress stands at around seven or eight, which is 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?