Tuesday, May 15, 2007


News: New novel out — Fracture.

It’s available at lulu.com as a paperback ($US14.67) or as a pdf ebook ($US3). Check out my website.

This is a near future romp with a couple of lesbians, a transsexual and one old-fashioned “God’s gift to women”.

Characters are interesting creatures and you never know exactly what you’ll end up with when you start a book. In The h’Slaitiarr Conspiracy the character Wandar originally started out as a man (Walter) who I saw as being German, but when he started reacting to his partner Anil in an odd sort of flirting way, I realized I had a problem since I didn’t see Walter as being gay. At that point, I was a third of the way into the first draft and it stymied me a bit. Back then I usually went power walking 9 klicks, five days a week, and whether it was the extra blood rushing to my head as my heart pumped harder, I don’t know, but I always found it helped my creative juices and on one of those walks it hit me: Walter was a woman!

And so Walter became Wandar, a dominatrix from Poland (don’t ask me why) and everything fell into place. And in so doing, it affected the plot because a sexual tension arose between Wandar and the main character, Rodan, that hadn’t been there before.

Something similar happened in the third book, Pyran’s Dilemma. This was originally the follow up to The h’Slaitiarr Conspiracy when I had no thought of writing a trilogy.

The opening chapter began with Rodan’s friend Rob Burton, who had only appeared in one chapter in the first book and who was to be a main character in the second. It was after his rejuvenation and he had a desire to work on termination parties for some reason he couldn’t fathom. I had most of the plot fleshed out, but the story was still shorter than I wanted and I knew I needed some extra subplots. In that first chapter Rob had a manager, Samantha Jervois, who was basically to be met once and that was all and was there to show how Rob had changed after his rejuvenation, but when Samantha’s boss, Alex Bose, called to order Rob to the company’s head office, a conflict between the two women just wrote itself as I typed. They’d had a personal relationship and Alex had been Samantha’s subordinate within the company until Alex had stabbed Samantha in the back to get the promotion that Samantha was going to get.

I realized I had to either cut this out or use it in some way. And then, at the end of one of my walks, as I had struggled with it, the idea finally came to me. And then, a third of the way through this book, when Rob managed to interrogate the robot Aldar, I realized that there was another story that needed to be written when I had to come up with a history as to Aldar had gotten into this situation and that helped me complete the missing plotlines.

So what have I learned? It’s important to get your characters right, even the minor ones, but it isn’t necessarily important that they be right the first time. Writing any story is an exercise in exploration. I like to have a reasonably fleshed out roadmap of what I’m going to write so that I don’t get bogged down with writer’s block, but that doesn’t mean I can’t change direction if something arises in the story. The worst is that you might have to go back and rewrite possibly even whole chapters, but if it leads to a better story then it has to be worth it.

And after all, isn’t revising what writing is all about?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Just what is it to be human?

Doesn’t time just fly when you’ busy. Looking for work is taking up a big chunk of time and I’ve also put in a big effort to finish revising my fourth novel Fracture. The front cover is nearly finished and once the back cover is done, I can publish it. I’m also trying to finish three songs, but doing the vocals is causing me some anguish as I’ trying to sing parts in a half-voice and I just don’t quite have the control.

I meant to put A Question Of Loyalty out about three weeks ago, but when I began reading through it I realized it’s opening needed a major revamp and hopefully I’ve gotten it right.

A Question Of Loyalty is set in the same universe as my novels for the Rodan Trilogy are, but in the h’Slaitiarr war that ended 60 years before the time period for those novels. The story explores the colony on Bright Red One where the character Marla grew up and the short story’s theme is on what it means to be human. And that seems to be as good an idea as any for this entry.

Ah ... humans. What a curious bunch we are.

We’re a curious mishmash of cultures from stone-age to sophisticated hi-tech and with all sorts of irrational beliefs to guide us through our daily lives. I’ve always wondered why we have evolved to the point where we need to hide ourselves behind clothes. At least, in a sense we do. We hide our sexual organs, in essence whether we are male or female, and yet we advertise our sexual nature in our clothes by the type of clothes we wear, the colour choices, styles and accoutrements such as jewelry, hair styles and make up.

Perhaps it’s to present ourselves as who we want to be rather than who we are.

When it comes to science fiction, especially TV shows and movies, if they are space-based, it amuses me that the alien races are quite often humanoid and that they also wear clothes, which implies that they all had a parallel evolution and cultural development as we did. I call this the Hollywood syndrome, since it was a writer or director in a documentary who said that the audience needed to see emotions on human-like faces to connect with the alien characters.

Personally, I don&squo;t agree with this. I’d rather see aliens that try to stretch the imagination. In fact, I think it would be rather interesting to see how some completely alien species reacted to us.

Think about it. If a species reproduces sexually, does it have to have different looking male/female equivalents? Do they have to have lust and or love?

I can just imagine an alien ship landing on Earth and being confused over the dominant intelligent species it met. If they were like us in that they had preconceptions coloured by their own biology and culture, would they think we were a mixture of a host subspecies, each identified by the different coulored and types of ‘skins’? And if they did see us naked, would they think we were different species that intermingled rather than two sexes of the same species? After all, how would they know that our sexual organs were involved with reproduction? Even looking at the DNA components of ova and sperm might not infer their purpose if the aliens don’t use DNA or something closely related to store their genetic information.

These are some of the ideas I began to consider in The h’Slaitiarr Conspiracy and which I will follow up in more depth in the Zhivar trilogy, my next writing project. I’ve already finished the first draft/partial revision of the first book Traitor Betrayed and I might approach publishers with this one since it’ is around the 120k word mark.

It’s even more fascinating at this point in time to ponder on just how different from us intelligent aliens could actually be, especially as an earth-sized planet has just been found twenty light years from us and within the habitable zone around its star. That makes four earth-like planets we know about if we include Venus and Mars, although Mars is a bit of a runt (but it may have had a thicker atmosphere and liquid water at one time in its history).

And if we know of four, how many more could there be close by...?