Meet the author? Hey, that’s me on the poster. Freeland Library is holding a ‘meet the author event’ and this time the author is me. Why meet me? That’s a straight line that branches into so many jokes that I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader. How about this? Come to the event to talk about one approach to writing science fiction, and an opportunity to write the fiction without having to invent the science.
January 11, 2023
Meet The Author : Writing Science Fiction (Firewatcher)
talk: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Hmm. Interesting. The book, Firewatcher, got billing. See; writing is as much about the story as it is about the author.
Writing can be intimidating. Science can be intimidating. Writing science fiction makes that easier and harder, depending on which you are emphasizing. But there are ways to make it all easier.
I wrote Firewatcher over the last several years. The artist who contributed their original art, Rob Schouten & Fire, helped me remember how the story of the story got its start. It all started with an image that came to mind in about 2008 or 2009. Ironically, it was because I had a gallery show of my Twelve Month series of Whidbey nature photos, which leads to a talk later this month about those photos.
Idea, 2009-ish. Book, 2022. No, I wasn’t writing that entire time. One year to realize I wanted to write a bit of fiction after writing several travel, nature, and personal finance non-fiction books. Several years to research the applicable science, invent science and math to fill the gaps, change the story appropriately, and repeat as necessary – or until the ideas compelled me to write them down. A few years of writing, then a lot of extra time as the pandemic limited my distractions. Then, ta da! Overnight, or over 13 years, and it was done.
OK. That’s a quick overview, and the reason for talking about the realities of writing fiction. (January 11, 2023, 2PM in Freeland – but I can do it again at other times and places. Interested?)
The second part of the talk may not be as obvious and common. Firewatcher has already inspired two or three sequels, one of which is already in progress. Without getting into the details here, I realized it would be relatively easy to write Firewatcher in a style and structure with a few rules that would open other sequels to other authors. One set of maths, sciences, history, and the rest of the Earth’s situation; plus some rules of how writers can work without tripping on the other writers; and a series of series can become more than one book and one writer/author.
Whidbey Island has hundreds of writers. (Whidbey Authors on Facebook, the blog/podcast WritingOnWhidbeyIsland.com, Island Arts Council ) That’s a lot of talent in a small-town space spread out over rural distances. Imagine a half-dozen writers, or so, writing within the same world, building off each other’s work, supporting each other as we share ideas, cross-promoting our works, and celebrating what we produce.
I won’t reveal any spoilers, but Firewatcher was written about one ship that escapes from Earth to colonize – anywhere is space, but with the equivalent of an unlisted address. Within the background for the story, five other ships launched at exactly the time. Each can be a book, or a series. That’s a lot of writing. I’m in my mid-sixties, and I have other things I want to write and work on. Open the doors, set some rules, and let others in to play. (One writer has already called dibs on the sequel of what happens on Earth after the ships leave. I have dibs on the prequel, but there are options, there.)
The second half of the talk will be about that opportunity, and whether anyone cares. Initially it will limited to Whidbey Island to facilitate in-person collaborations and meetings. It might also benefit from some of the arts organizations on Whidbey mentioned above.
Along the way don’t be surprised to hear self-publishing entering the conversation. The roll of AI, and the irony that the characters in the series are escaping to leave Earth before an AI makes it too late.
Hmm. What will take longer: writing this post or conducting the talk. Maybe we should have a talk about giving a talk and having to write about it?