Saturday, March 10, 2012

Growing a Novel

I'm a short story writer by habit, disposition, and tendency, but mostly because I'm just not a wordy bastard.  So how did I manage to do something of novel length?  Persistence might be one answer, but actually it was more about being dissatisfied with an open-ended work and writing more novellas until the bug stopped biting me.

Several years ago* I wrote MAGIC'S PRICE, a novella that became a Nebula finalist.  A year later, since the story ended with an escape, and after a few requests for a sequel, I wrote another novella that further developed the romance theme and informed the reader more detail about the world. This was a great deal of fun in that I had to invent names for alien critters and plants that sounded, you know, human.  Instead of inventing weird-assed alien garble, I used the idiosyncratic logic of common names that settlers might give to slightly unfamiliar things.

 The second novella ended with a less than satisfying resolution as they arrived at the sea, a huge body of water beyond the protagonist's wildest imagination.  But even then the story seemed unfinished, so my tidy mind required me to write another novella to finish the arc established in that first story.  By this time I'd been spending a couple of years on this in fits and starts while writing lots of other stuff.  When I finally put finis on the project, I had a hundred thousand words for a make-up novel and started shopping it around.

Sadly, Magician! never managed to find an interested agent or publisher so it sat on my computer for quite a while until I finally took the e-plunge and published the entire work as an eBook. The eBook has had less than stellar sales, but still, the work was out there for people to read and hopefully enjoy.  For me, that was enough.

I'd thought that was the end of it, but one of the story's characters intrigued me, as did the planet on which the story took place. Not one to throw away good material I struggled to create a little back story - i.e. a prequel titled Somewhere a Sea- that turned out to be, according to too many editors, a little too "western" for a science fiction story.  So it went into the trunk, along with dozens of other failed stories, where it languished for years.

Then, at Boskone, I was graciously invited by Steve Miller and Sharon Lee to be one of their guest writers and submitted Somewhere a Sea to their Splinter Universe.  This opportunity has been rewarding in that, from my point of view, people are finally able to see the story.

And I guess that satisfies me.

* All right, in the last century, damn it!

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