Confession time. I didn’t read a lot of science fiction growing up. I was a horror geek through and through. Barker, Koontz, King, Rice, McCammon, other books I remember by authors I don’t; I swilled them all down like a gore addict on day three of a two-week bender, voraciously and unstoppably. After I’d read everything by King twice, I branched out into other genres, mainstream and classic literature like Watership Down and everything by Orwell, as well as fantasy, like Tolkien, The Mists of Avalon, A Wizard of Earthsea, everything by Tom Robbins, and numerous others. (My one regret, actually, is that I’ve never read The Dragonriders of Pern. Anyone have a copy they could lend me?) I even went on a Louis L’Amour kick for about a year.
But science fiction itself remained an unturned stone. My favorite movies were all sci-fi based, Terminator, Aliens (ET and The Black Hole before that), but even most of those later childhood favorites had a horror subtheme. So what in the world made me write a space-opera action story for my first full-length published novel, then a full trilogy?
Let me digress for a second before answering that. I’m going to share something about authors that many of us would probably hesitate before admitting publicly, for fear of being locked into the loony bin. We are all possessed. Or maybe you’d call it schizophrenia. The fact is, we are 100 percent inhabited by legions of other people. And they control us to greater and lesser degrees. For me, that possession came in the form of my trilogy’s main character, a Corps-deserter and tougher-than-titanium anti-hero Aly Erikson. To make a long story short, I was out on a run through the Oregon rain one day, and she popped into my head nearly fully formed on a very intense flight from danger of her own aboard a space station in the Algol triple-star system. It was December 2005, and this character was born. Her story was as real in my head as my own life story, and I had to tell it. Hence, science fiction.
In my mind, she is one part Carolyn Fry from Pitch Black, one part Dizzy from the 1997 film adaptation of Starship Troopers, and the rest of her comprises numerous positive and, yes, negative characteristics derived from the heroes from all my favorite books and movies. And after writing her story through three books and one novella (accidentally—I never intended her to span so many words), I think I may be done with her for a while. She had a good ride; she grew, experienced much, and lived through a lot more than she had any right to, and I don’t think she has much story left to tell in her current iteration.
So what’s next? Based on the subjects of my youth, I should be ready to wander the halls of horror, one would think. Strangely, though, that isn’t where my mind is veering these days. In fact, sometime during the writing of Contract of Defiance, I became enthralled by a story from Outside Magazine of a coyote hunting and killing a woman hiking through a park in Nova Scotia, behavior that for this particular animal is completely unheard of. And because, like most writers, bizarre tragedies tend to make my mind spin on surprising new ideas, this unlikely news story spun my brain toward the concoction of a new tale that spanned everything from the cultures of Vikings and Inuits, to ancient history and present times, to Greenland and Wisconsin, to B.A.S.E jumping and academia, to domestic violence and the loyalty of best friends. I spent months researching different facets of the story overtaking my thoughts and wrote several thousand words. Then…it died. The story simply languished as a new book in the Spectras Arise trilogy started to take shape, and I put it aside. When I dusted it off with all intent of resurrecting it, the whole concept had lost its luster. It was not a story I wanted to tell anymore.
But all was not lost (and can never be—if ideas were money, every writer would be captaining her or his own privately financed starship to the moon for a holiday) and the initial characters and bones of that old story squished like Play-Doh into something new. Something that still involves Vikings, but is now dense fantasy with a heavy dose of science fiction. Science fantasy fusion, anyone? Though I’m still in the early stages of writing and development, this new story is an ever-present mouth-breather that I can’t ignore for a second, and I can’t wait to write it!
In a well-timed happenstance, science fiction writer Dylan Hearn invited me to do this fun thing called the 7-7-7 challenge, where you go to the seventh page of your work-in-progress, go down to line seven, then publish the next seven lines. This new novel of mine is as yet untitled and so far from finished that these lines will hardly be the same when it is, but here goes:
If one were to hold a kaleidoscope to their eye and peer through it past reality’s veil to the place where the carnival-colored bits and baubles suspended within become part of the Great Cosmos, they might discover one very unique new reality. The one called Heartovingia. It is a circular belt comprised of a seemingly desolate amalgam of rocks, metals, and ice spinning eternally around the watery, storm-tossed planet called Vann. The light from this asteroid field’s star would be diffuse, bouncing weakly from the multi-elemental belt of particles and giving it a reddish cast, like that of a heart. A heart whose center is chaos and cold sea.
Looking deeper into the kaleidoscope, one would notice that these long-turning stones are not as desolate as one might have thought. In fact, many of these spaceborne satellites appear to be quite large and are encircled by glasslike domes.
As you can see so far, it has a great deal more epic-ocity than my first-person-told trilogy. We’ll see how it goes. You’re welcome and invited to stay tuned and enjoy the lunatic rantings of its progress as my brainmeats suffer through new-series growing pains. And now it’s your turn, all my writer friends. Take the 7-7-7 challenge for yourself and link back here so we can read what you’re up to. Because after all, crazy loves company!
Also, for sci-fi and intrigue fans, be sure to check out Dylan’s new release coming out November 28. Absent Souls (The Transcendence Trilogy: Book 2).
Enjoy what you’ve seen so far? Click the follow button or enter your email to subscribe to new posts and sign up for the General Semantics newsletter to get my writing-only news, including first looks at new stories, and invitations to join contests and giveaways. Thank you!
Viking photo courtesy of Internet Archive Book Images under Creative Commons license. All content copyright unless otherwise specified © 2014 by Tammy Salyer, writer. All rights reserved.