I wanted to write The Dragon’s Choice right away after doing A Plague of Wizards, but I was committed to writing A Great Deal of Patience. That was the book that everyone wanted. As I stuttered along with Patience, though, I worked out the whole story of The Dragon’s Choice in my head, so the next time I paused in writing Patience, I whipped out The Dragon’s Choice. It only took me about six and a half weeks to write, and it was probably the most fun book to write to this point. Because of this, I think that after I finish the final Patience book, I’m only going to write whatever I feel enthused about at the moment.
After writing Patience is a Virtue, I decided I wouldn’t write another robot book unless I had a story. I finally thought of one and planned out a trilogy of books. The first book was A Great Deal of Patience, and I think it is by far the best of the series.
As so often, I started writing and got side-tracked several times. I stopped for about two months and wrote The Dragon’s Choice, but left it unedited to return to Patience. It was finally done and I published it in 2017. That sounds like a long time ago, but in my mind, I just finished that book. It continues to sell well and I get more positive emails and comments about it than any other book.
I had just read a Harry Turtledove book called,A World of Difference. In it, the author simply replaces Mars in our solar system with Minerva, an earth-like world. I used this same idea to place our world’s continents into one section of a ring world. Then I set it in 1913, which let me put Teddy Roosevelt in the story.
There were a lot of starts and stops before I finally finished this book, but eventually I did.
A Plague of Wizards is the eighth book in The Sorceress and the Dragon series (formerly Senta and the Steel Dragon). The book started with what if Senta disappeared for several years and what would happen to Port Dechantagne and the people in it if that happened.
The question that naturally follows is where was she and what happened to her. I guess a lot of that part of the story comes from my reading books and watching movies about people who have been mistreated in mental institutions.
There are a number of story elements that result from this book, particularly with Senta and Baxter that continue to the end of the series.
I had planned for the fifth Astrid Maxxim book to be the Electric Racecar Challenge all along, and had built up to it in the previous books. As I was writing Astrid Maxxim and her Hypersonic Space Plane, I came across an article about a woman who had suffered amnesia in an auto accident. I decided that it was how I wanted to start the next Astrid book. It would be quite a shocker opening.
I wrote the first two chapters and then got sidetracked writing His Robot Girlfriend: Charity. I got back to Astrid and then got sidetracked again, first writing a few new chapters of Kanana: the Jungle Girl and then writing the entirety of The Price of Magic. At that point, I looked back at the Astrid book, which was about half done, and thought “get to it!”
Even after all that, I ended up with everything but the last chapter done and got stuck. I don’t really know why. I knew what I wanted to write.
One little thing I’ve been playing with is that each last chapter of an Astrid book is named for a Shakespearean play. I was stuck with this book until I suddenly realized that I could name the rival race car the Cheetah Tempest. There you go!
The Price of Magic, The Sorceress and the Dragon Book 7, was set up in book 6. Reading through them, they really feel like parts one and two of a story arc, although that wasn’t quite the way I planned it. I wanted it to be a bit more open-ended.
The Price of Magic was much easier to write than The Sorceress and her Lovers. It’s probably the longest book that I’ve written straight through without stopping. I had just finished His Robot Girlfriend: Charity and started in on Astrid Maxxim and the Electric Racecar Challenge, stopped that and wrote a bit on Kanana the Jungle Girl. Finally, I set all that aside and jumped back into Birmisia and Senta, and it seemed like that was what I was meant to be writing.
Perhaps what made it so much fun to write was that I was dealing with Iolana Dechantagne Staff as a fourteen-year-old. I seem to be making a career of writing about teen girls– between Senta in The Drache Girl and Astrid Maxxim. In any case, I really enjoyed writing Iolana’s portions of the book as well as Tokkenoht’s. She had not been one of the primary characters up until this point.
When I finished, the pieces of the next book just fell into place. I sat down and wrote out a very complete outline for it. It would become A Plague of Wizards.
I had been working on an outline for the next robot book, which I planned on calling His Robot Wife: A Great Deal of Patience. While I was doing that, I came up with a plot line that I wanted to write about. This probably grew out of my frustrations with writing Kanana the Jungle Girl, which I had been trying to finish, but couldn’t quite, and which also had a similar plot line woven into it.
I could have written this plot in any number of ways– made it an entirely new story or a space opera story. Knowing that people were clamoring for a new robot book, I decided to go that way. Of course the story didn’t fit with Patience and Mike, so I created Charity and Dakota. I decided to throw a bit of the back story that I had been working on for A Great Deal of Patience, along with a cameo by Mike, and there is a quick little book. As I mentioned the other day, it took me only forty-two days to write.
A Great Deal of Patience ended up changing a lot, because much of what I had originally planned was in Charity. That’s really worked out well, because I can move the plot along without having to worry about doling out background tidbits. The story has to be able to stand on its own though and I think it does. Both Dakota and Charity will appear in the new book, especially Charity, as this is a much more robot-centered story and less human-centered. Watch this space for more information on the upcoming books in the series.
It’s a funny thing. I had started and stopped writing Astrid Maxxim and the Antarctic Expedition several times, but by the time I was done, I was just hitting my stride. I immediately started working on Astrid Maxxim and her Hypersonic Space Plane. The previous books had hinted quite a bit about what would be in this book and I just continued on.
This was without a doubt the quickest I had ever finished a book. I started the rough draft August 24, 2014 and finished it September 13th. Twenty-one days inclusive. The very next day, I started on His Robot Girlfriend: Charity, It took forty-two days, exactly twice as long, but still pretty quick. A big part of this is probably because I just finished a second twelve credit graduate program at SUU, and I hadn’t been able to write much during those months.
The cover for the book went through half a dozen drafts as we got just the right spacecraft and image of Astrid. Though not created at the same time, this cover and the one for the upcoming Astrid Maxxim and her Outpost in Space fit really well together.
When I first wrote Astrid Maxxim and her Amazing Hoverbike, I set for myself a loose expectation that I would write one Astrid Maxxim book a year. I had written the first in 2011 and the second in 2013, so I was already a year behind. By this time, I was half finished The Sorceress and her Lovers, and really needed something light to clear my head.
I had always planned to take Astrid to the Antarctic. There were many reasons for this. First: Tom Swift (my inspiration) had gone on such journeys. Tom Swift and the Caves of Ice, and the Tom Jr. story: Tom Swift and the Caves of Nuclear Fire. Second, I had hinted as much with Astrid’s discovery of the dust-covered chest marked “Antarctic Expedition” in Astrid’s basement. Finally, the Antarctic is a timely location, with the subject of climate change so much in the news.
I wrote a chapter or two and then set the book aside, while I worked on His Robot Wife: Patience is a Virtue. Then I returned and wrote a bit more, only to put it aside to work on The Sorceress and her Lovers. Once the other book was done, I returned to Astrid. Somewhere in writing this book, I got off my outline and ended up with a couple of chapters two or three times longer than I had intended. I went back, edited them down, and renumbered chapters, but in the end, it was still off. This book has only 17 chapters while the others have 19 or 20.
This book works better as a part of the overall series than it does as a single volume. Lately, sales of this book and the other Astrid Maxxim books are really taking off, which makes me very happy. While written for teens, I think it holds up pretty well, and adults might find some nostalgia in here, as I do.
One final note. Matthew Riggenback at Shaed Studios did the cover, as he has all the Astrid Maxxim books. We had more trouble with this one than any of the others. We had a hard time finding an Astrid in cold weather gear. The first few versions looked even more like they came from a fashion magazine. Then we had a great background picture, but to get our girl in, we had to cover up either the snowmobile/sled or the base camp. In the end, we covered up the base camp, which is too bad, because it really looked pretty cool and perfect for the story.