Motivations: Princess of Amathar

Princess of AmatharI began writing Princess of Amathar so long ago, it’s really difficult to remember what I was thinking at the time. It was about 1980 and I was just about two years out of high school. I began writing several stories in short chapters, rotating between them. One was a fantasy story about an alternate world, one was a fantasy story set in a dream world (which I later used as the white opthalium drug-induced world for Senta and the Steel Dragon), but most of them were fan fiction sequels to Edgar Rice Burroughs Books. Finally there was Amathar.

My idea behind Amathar was to write a book that ERB might write if he was still around at the time. In that way, Princess of Amathar, more than any of my other books, was written as a book I would really want to read. As the years passed and the story was revised, it became more of a love-letter to the fond memories I had reading John Carter of Mars, Pellucidar, and Carson of Venus as a kid.

I still have the original first chapter draft and the story is quite different than the final version. Our earth hero arrives mysteriously in Ecos, though he doesn’t have the same name and he doesn’t meet Malagor. Instead he immediately finds a family of neo-luddite Amatharians whose daughter has been captured by Zoasians. The book changed again and again over the years. Alexander got his first name after I wrote a college paper on Alexander the Great, and his last name from a girl I worked with at Kmart.

By 1994, when I started teaching, the book was only half done. I worked really hard to finish it and did so about 1997. Many of the characters and alien races were named after kids in school, though in revision they were usually changed. It went through many revisions after that and it got many rejection letters from publishers, before I finally published it in 2007. The ebook came out in 2009.

Princess of Amathar has sold a little over 1,000 copies– not one of my best-sellers.  Still, it holds a special place in my heart as the beginning of my writing career, and I still enjoy reading it.

Motivations: Astrid Maxxim and the Mystery of Dolphin Island

The idea for this story came from an article about real people working on dolphin communication just as I describe in the book.  I also wanted to say something about cetacean strandings and ocean pollution in general.

This was also a chance to play with the characters being influenced by somebody else besides Astrid, who is away, and also flesh out the backstory of the Maxxims, of which there is more to come.

I have outlines written for the next four Astrid books.  They are: Astrid Maxxim and her High-Rise Air Purifier, Astrid Maxxim and the Great Water Project, Astrid Maxxim and her Hypertube Hovertrain, and Astrid Maxxim and her Outpost in Space.