The Two Dragons was originally the final third of the massive story that I had decided to call The Steel Dragon. When I turned it into a series instead, The Two Dragons sat for a long time waiting. When I finally had finished and published all the other five books, I looked at the manuscript again. The story still worked, but there needed to be significant changes in the ending.
Senta had picked up a dragon egg in book 4 that I hadn’t originally counted on. I added that. The original manuscript had a very long epilog that detailed everything that happened to all the characters. Since it was going to be a series, I had to take that off. In its place I needed an ending. I had written a little bit about Senta arriving in Brechalon (originally thinking that this would be many years later), so I added it. As it turned out, it tied in well with The Sorceress and her Lovers.
By the way, I am still following the information about the characters in the original epilog.
There are actually three dragons in the story, so which two are the ones in the title? I kind of like mirroring The Lord of the Rings. In The Two Towers, there are many more than two towers, and Tolkien never explains which two are the title locations.
When I had finished the manuscript that became The Voyage of the Minotaur, The Drache Girl, and The Two Dragons, and decided to make it a series, I had to write two new books to fill the spaces in between. The Dark and Forbidding Land was the first of those, and I think it is a very good addition to the series. The Young Sorceress would be the second, fitting between The Drache Girl and The Two Dragons.
I had a story that I thought would work well and would be different than anything else in the series. In the previous four books, I had followed a different character each chapter, with a few rare instances when I jump from one character to another in the same chapter. In Brechalon though, I had jumped from character to character many times each chapter. I decided to follow this format. I think it works well for the story.
I haven’t gotten a lot of feedback on this particular book, so I don’t know what readers think about it as opposed to the other books. I just read the first review I’ve ever seen for it, and it was pretty positive. I remember that when I finished the book, I wasn’t really thrilled with it. Reading it later though, I decided that I liked this one. That happens to me a lot.
I think of this book as marking the beginning of my intermediate period. One day I was standing in my living room looking at the row of yellow spines on my collection of Tom Swift Jr. books.
In the summer of 1969, I discovered Tom Swift Jr. among the possessions of my Uncle George, who had died the year before in Viet Nam. I started reading them and was hooked. I was hooked on Tom Swift, on science fiction, and on reading.
My first book, Princess of Amathar had been an homage to the Edgar Rice Burroughs books I had loved in my teens. So that day, looking at Tom Swift, I thought, “that’s the type of book I should write next.” I wanted to capture the same feeling of excitement and innocence that I found when I read Tom Swift Jr., but I wanted to update the stories and make them my own. I sat down and created the setting and the characters, and made a list of inventions that stories could be built around.
There were two things that I always had trouble with, as a reader of Tom Swift. First, time never passed. Tom was always 18. The second, his inventions never seemed to change the world, no matter how innovative and revolutionary they were. I decided that Astrid’s inventions would change the world and she would age as the series progressed. So far I’ve written six Astrid Maxxim books and have plans for as many as fifty. I’d like to write at least one per year, but so far, I haven’t been.
I never really wanted to write a vampire book and I’m not a fan of Twilight (I read the first book and thought it was okay, but didn’t love it.) Urban fantasy really isn’t my cup of tea either. But my writers’ group used to meet in Borders and they would seat us right between two massive shelves of vampire books. We would always joke with each other that we should all be writing one. I always commented that my vampires wouldn’t be lovers. They would be the bad guys. I did finally relent and have a slightly good vampire, but she wasn’t really that good.
I started writing Blood Trade and got to the third chapter, when it took a really dark turn. I was describing not the Vegas that I knew, but one that was in rapid decay as the forces of darkness took over. I liked it. So I went back and rewrote the first two chapters and the whole book got much darker.
I had originally planned my heroine Xochitl to be a goth girl, but as with the rest of the story, her background and character got MUCH darker. I have to say, I really like how the story came out, but it is DARK. I actually have the first two chapters of a sequel already written, but who knows when I’ll get to it. After all, I’ve had the first few chapters of the Amathar sequel done for years. I will say this though, the sequel to Blood Trade (assuming I ever finish it) will be even darker than the first one.
I got the idea for Women of Power from Feedbooks.com. Feedbooks was one of the early sites to get great ebook downloads (though I think it has suffered a bit since they went commercial). One of the great things among their original books back in 2009, were fan-fiction comics– mini books with comic book covers that were prose inside. They were mostly based on DC characters like Batman and The Teen Titans. I decided to try my hand at writing one of those.
There was a whole club and web organization which assigned which books each writer was working on. That seemed like a whole lot of trouble to me. Plus I just like to go with my own characters, so that’s what I did. I made up All American Girl and Skygirl and patterned their descriptions after some cover art I purchased for the “comics.” I wrote and posted the first two “issues,” but by the time I had finished “issue” (read chapter) three. I decided that I wanted to make it a full novella. I set it aside and didn’t get back to it for two years.
You can still find issue 1 of Women of Power still floating around the internet. I took issue 2 down because it was significantly different than what became chapter two in the book, and I didn’t want people reading the former and then jumping into chapter 3 of the latter and getting lost.
My son and I plotted out a sequel, but I’ve since lost my notes on it. In any case, I don’t think I’ll ever get around to writing it.
His Robot Wife was written for entirely different reasons than any other book I’ve written. All the other books (with maybe the exception of His Robot Girlfriend) were written because I thought I had a great story to tell and I wanted to tell it. You could say that I wrote His Robot Wife for money, though that’s not entirely accurate. I priced it an 99 cents even though I could have made more by pricing it higher. I wrote it because I knew it would sell.
I publish His Robot Girlfriend in 2008, and it has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. Many people wrote and asked for a sequel. This was a big deal for me. But I didn’t have a story. As far as I was concerned, the story of Mike and Patience was over. Still, people kept asking. It took me three years to come up with a story for them, and I think it’s probably my weakest plot (but HRG wasn’t popular for its plot, but rather its characters anyway). So in 2011 I wrote His Robot Wife. It is short, at 28,000 words, but it went easily enough, and as it turned out, it has sold more copies than all my other books put together.
The Drache Girl was originally the second part of the three part novel I wrote in 2007-2008. While I was writing it, it was known as “Colony.” It takes place a little over three years after the events in what became The Voyage of the Minotaur. When I was done, I decided to call it The Sorceress’s Apprentice, but ultimately changed that title to the current one. I don’t know if that was the best decision or not. I wanted to be more original, but the other might have caught more readers’ eyes.
As I mentioned before, this book was inspired by Lord of the Rings, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, James Michener’s Hawaii, and the movie Zulu. The idea was to create a fantasy world mirroring British colonial imperialism. This part of the story also owes something to British TV series “Hamish MacBeth,” which inspired much of the character of PC Saba Colbshallow, though he had always been planned to have been a copper.
I enjoyed writing The Drache Girl probably more than any other book I’ve written. I really enjoyed the characters at this point in the story– especially Senta and her friends and Saba Colbshallow. It ended up taking me a looong time to publish because I decided ultimately that there needed to be another book between The Voyage of the Minotaur and The Drache Girl: The Dark and Forbidding Land.
The Dark and Forbidding Land was the first of two books that I squeezed between the events that happened in the original outline of Senta and the Steel Dragon, the other being The Young Sorceress. I enjoyed writing TDAFL and I think it works well. Part of that was because writing about Senta as a pre-teen was my favorite part of writing the entire series.
One of the challenges of writing this book was not to top the events in The Drache Girl. I didn’t want Senta aged 10 to be more powerful and experienced than Senta aged 12. Remember Star Wars, where we watch R2-D2 trudge around in the desert in episode 4, only to find out in episode 1, that he could fly?
The other challenge that I had was that I knew there were going to be characters who were going to die, based on my single book outline. But I was limited in which characters I could kill, because some of them appeared in The Drache Girl and The Two Dragons which were already written. So I sat down and created a whole pack of characters who, unbeknownst to them, were doomed. The down side of this was that I ended up liking several of them and was sorry to see them go. Not all of them ended up dying. So, there are a couple of characters who appear only in books 2 and 4.
I am currently re-editing The Dark and Forbidding Land. My son says it is his favorite book in the series. When I created the new book covers for the series, book 2 just had to have a T-Rex on it. I had a choice of one with a red head, as described in the book or one that looked more realistic. I had to go realistic.
The idea for Tesla’s Stepdaughters came while I was playing Rock Band 2 on my Nintendo Wii. I was playing it a lot over the summer in 2009. As part of the game, you create your band, and the band I created became The Ladybugs. The original band name was actually Tesla’s Stepdaughters, but when I got around to writing the story, it just seemed to make more sense that the band standing in historically for The Beatles would have a similar name.
I am really pleased with Tesla’s Stepdaughters. I think I was successful in creating a setting for the story, without delving too deeply into it. I’m really happy with my mystery. I never really thought I would be able to write a mystery story, and while some might point out that the mystery is the weakest part of the story (and I wouldn’t argue that), for me, I’m pretty pleased.
Recently, Tesla’s Stepdaughters has been getting more and more interest. It continues to slowly climb in sales and is the best selling of any of my single (non-series) books.
The Voyage of the Minotaur was actually the second novel that I wrote– sort of. As I mentioned the other day, it was originally the first part of a very long novel– almost 400,00 words, about 850 pages. I was almost done with this book before I even had a working title, but settled on The Steel Dragon, and this of course later became Senta and the Steel Dragon. The three parts were originally called– Expedition, Colony, Dominion.
After the book was done and had gone through editing, I decided that it was just too big and had to be split into three parts. So part one became The Voyage of the Minotaur.
Several things influenced me to devise this story. A friend had encouraged me to self-publish Princess of Amathar, and the success of that book, minor though it was, encouraged me to write a second. Lord of the Rings had just come out and so I was already thinking of a three part fantasy story. I had also just read Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, and remembered his notes about it being his Lord of the Rings. Finally, I had recently watched James Michener’s Hawaii. Putting this all together with several non-fiction books I had recently read about colonial imperialism (particularly Britain in Africa), I came up with the story outline for Senta and the Steel Dragon.
I wanted a story that told about colonialism over a long period– in this case about ten years. I had thought about how badly native people were treated by the colonial powers and wondered just how much worse it would have been if those natives were an entirely different species. I already had a world map that I had created a few years earlier when I had toyed with the idea of writing a role-playing setting. All of this went into the mix. I also used the setting I had created twenty years before for a few fantasy vignettes I had written– the otherworldly place that people visit when they use the magic drug opthalium. Throwing all this into the mix, I just started writing. It took 14 months to write the drafts for what became three books.