Well, everywhere, really. Frankly, my problem is which ideas to pursue. Often, when reading a book, I’ll reach the final chapter only to say to myself, “What happened next?” Did the teenage stepdaughter start to act out? Did the private eye get a hard time from the police? What will the next political crisis be?
I’ve said, only half in jest, that my characters wake me in the middle of the night and bother me until I give in, take notes, and agree to write the book.
For 2010 NaNo (National Novel Writing Month), I decided to write a science fiction novel. At thispoint, I’d written a children’s chapter book (more on this later) and a middle grade novel in need of serious revision that I believe ran about 15,000 words. I’m a huge science fiction fan and am widely read in the genre — I selected Robert A. Heinlein’s “Farmer in the Sky” for my tenth birthday, now long past — but I’d never written any, so I decided to take the plunge.
Here’s the blurb
Relocated, a science fiction novel by Margaret Fieland
When fourteen-year-old Keth’s dad is transferred to planet Aleyne, he doesn’t know what to expect. Certainly not to discover Dad grew up here, and studied with Ardaval, a noted Aleyni scholar. On Aleyne, Keth’s psi ability develops. However, psi is illegal in the Terran Federation. After a dangerous encounter with two Terran teenagers conflict erupts between Keth and his father. Keth seeks sanctuary with Ardaval. Studying with the Aleyne scholar Keth learns the truth about his own heritage. After Keth’s friend’s father, Mazos, is kidnapped, Keth ignores the risks and attempts to free him. Little does he realize who will pay the cost as he becomes involved with terrorists.
So where did these ideas come from? Despite the little voice that’s yammering, “If I could really tell you that, I’d be out there making my fortune,” I can tease out the origin of some of the elements in the story.
The main character is a fourteen-year-old boy. I raised three sons, and at the time I was still under the misapprehension that kid’s books were easier to write. I was also attracted to the idea that they could be shorter than a novel for adults; as a poet, I am fairly terse.
The action takes place on an alien planet. The main character’s father is an army officer assigned to the military base, which is in the desert. My middle son was still in the army at that point, and he was stationed in Afghanastan. I couldn’t do anything about my anxiety over this, other than bite my nails, but I could and did add a terrorist plot to the novel and make sure that things “came out right.” Well, mostly.
My aliens are quite humaniod, with very dark skin, gray eyes, oval heads, and hands and feet that are wider than ours. Because of the demands of the plot, I needed to make them close to human in appearance. I wanted them to have a normal but easily distinguished skin color, and thus I had a choice of very light or very dark. In my novel, the aliens are the good guys; I made them dark (very dark). This gave me the opportunity to play with the theme of discrimination. As well, White for the good guys is way overdone, and I learned from reading Heinlein the value of the unexpected in a story. In “Starship Troopers,” for example, we don’t learn that one of the major characters is Black until half-way through the book.
There’s more, of course. In the second book in the series, “Broken Bonds,” one of the characters is Black Seargent imprisoned for going AWOl where his White fellow soldiers were not charged. This came from a story of my father, who served as a Judge Advocate General in the army during World War II. The third book in the series contains an incident based on another of Dad’s wartime stories, one where he hitched a ride on a small plane when he had leave and they ran out of fuel. My aliens form four-way relationships. This was sparked by my reading a book years ago where I came across one, prompting me to say to myself, “That’s not the way I would write it.”
Check out the posts of my fellow bloggers:
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Anne de Gruchy https://annedegruchy.co.uk/category/blog/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
Margaret Fieland https://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1dm
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com