I dug out No Marigolds in the Promised Land over the last couple of weeks. I want to thank Jenn Nixon and G. Michael Rapp for banging this beast into submission. And what became apparent was that this thing was serialized on the fly.
“Well, duh,” you might say if you were a subscriber to the newsletter back when this thing ran. “You even said you were posting it as you wrote it.”
Yer right. In fact, until I put it together, I didn’t even realize it was a novel.
Greg Rapp’s notes, like MD Thalmann’s on Second Wave, were extensive and stylistically neutral. I say that because both guys made suggestions without regard to my style. It’s the author’s job to filter all that.
The biggest challenge has been formatting. This begins as a series of log entries a la The Martian, right down to the cold, thin-aired desert with two tiny moons. The planet is even a project commissioned and funded by Mars, but that’s what separates John Farno from Mark Watney. (He even references Watney as a fictional forerunner, lamenting that Andy Weir has to save Watney because that was the point of the story.) The Compact’s calendar, eventually established to be based on the date of the first interstellar flight, is formatted a certain way. But midway through (like Weir does with The Martian) part of the action shifts back to civilization. So the names and dates get presented a little differently.
The other issue I ran into was the character of Julie/Persephone, an artificial intelligence that keeps Farno alive and eventually becomes his companion. I decided as I wrote to italicize her dialog when she’s just a voice. When she appears as a hologram (eventually a solid hologram as they gain access to more technology), I wrote her dialog in quotes. The problem is that I also italicize thoughts. No, that’s not confusing at all. So anytime an AI (a handful show up) speaks without a holographic presence, I write the dialog in Calibri.
I also decided that this would be the only Compact Universe story I do this with. It’s a pain in the ass, and one scifi writers group I’m on suggested I probably should have just use quotation marks.
It’s almost done. A Grammarly pass and a round of reformatting to get the dates. Then I port it to caliber and upload. Eventually, the version emerges this week will go to Clayborn. The current plan is to release it before I release Storming Amargosa, so the last two novels will bookend the series.