It took me a long time to come around to writing The Children of Amargosa. I had just completed one of the more publishable drafts of Holland Bay and not written anything science fiction in about 10 years at that point. Would I be able to do it? Were the muscles still there?
My goal this year is to wrap up the Compact Universe series – at least have rough drafts of all three novellas and Storming Amargosa and to write the follow-up to Holland Bay ahead of a potential sale to a major publisher. Storming has a short prose draft in the can, and likely, by the time you read this, The Amortals will be off to beta readers, including (let’s hope) the soon-to-be Mrs. Hottle (11 days as of this post!)
So how am I writing the follow-up to a novel I once referred to as “my magnum opus”? I’ve mentioned this before. I write it in “episodes,” so far about four chapters each. This lets me think about the story in smaller chunks. Like Holland Bay, I’m pantsing the hell out of this thing. Unlike Holland Bay, it’s not likely to become a 105,000-word mess in it first draft. I know who the characters are and am focused on five (two cops, one lord high muckety muck, a catatonic girl, and a criminal.) So right now, I’m working on four or five chapters to show the next things that happen to them.
But it’s crime. This series is set in the fictional Monticello, Ohio, a decaying industrial town that’s as real as any place you’ve been. But next week?
Next week, I have to shift my focus to the Laputan world of Tacmar and its gigantic orbital city to follow the adventures of Rosc, who was exiled in Tishla. So not everyone’s human. There are no radio station tropes I can pull from to make his morning commute seem like your morning commute, and while you have to deal with road construction, sun glare, and rain, Rosc is in an environment whose gravity scheme I’m not even sure of yet. (Artificial Star Trek-type gravity? Or a spinning wheel? Or maybe special boots like on The Expanse.) Near immortality, wormholes, and a species that stands over seven feet are all things. They replace gangbangers, urban sprawl, and those annoying digital billboards that change before you get a really good look at them.
It’s not like I hadn’t done this before. Earlier this year, I beta read a rather erotic romance while trying to finish Second Wave. Yeah, try writing five teenagers as child soldiers in an alien invasion when your friend sends you scenes of what happened in a hot anchorman’s shower. Talk about shifting gears.