Motivations: The Sorceress and her Lovers

The Sorceress and her LoversIt had been two years since I had published The Two Dragons, but it had actually been longer since I had written a Senta and the Steel Dragon book.  I was right in the middle of writing Astrid Maxxim and the Antarctic Expedition,  but set it aside and jumped into The Sorceress and her Lovers, without really even meaning to.

I had a long outline that was the original epilog of The Two Dragons, so I just followed along with it.  The return of Pantagria, Senta’s baby, and the Coral Dragon were three additions not in the original,  I had tacked her pregnancy onto The Two Dragons at the last minute, and I had created the Coral Dragon while writing The Young Sorceress.  Pantagria’s return provided the main story and set up the next book into what really amounts to a two-book arc.

This book felt a little unsettling for me.  I was writing in this world I had created, but it wasn’t the same.  The more I wrote of Iolana though, the more at home I felt.  This convinced me that she would be a major part of the next book.  Just as I was finishing this story, the plot for The Price of Magic just popped into my head.

Motivations: His Robot Wife: Patience is a Virtue

PatienceSince His Robot Wife had turned out to be such a good seller and His Robot Girlfriend continued to be downloaded, I had planned on writing several more Patience stories.  I had a vague idea of writing a series of adventures for Mike and Patience as they took trips around the world.

This first in the series, would take them to Antarctica.  I was already working on Astrid Maxxim and the Antarctic Expedition, so I had two very different books in the same setting.  Each of the robot books would have a catchy subtitle that played on the name of Patience.

I wrote the first one which was focused on a mystery.  As I mentioned before, mysteries are not really my thing, but  I did my best with it.  In the end, the story was okay, but I wasn’t satisfied enough to continue on with the series.  I would keep the names at ready, but I decided right then and there that I wouldn’t write another Patience book unless I had a compelling story to tell.

Motivations: Astrid Maxxim and her Undersea Dome

Astrid Maxxim 2I started writing Astrid Maxxim and her Undersea Dome at the end of 2012, about a year and a half after finishing Astrid Maxxim and her Amazing Hoverbike.  I knew that I wanted it to be an ocean adventure, because that was how the Tom Swift books I read as a boy went– alternating between air/space and ocean/other.

The undersea dome seemed such a natural progression for Astrid.  Since the invention of Astridium in book one– a superhard, ceramic material– could be made transparent, one of the first applications would be to create a geodesic dome under the sea.

I also wanted to introduce an ocean scientist to the series– some one who could fill the shoes of the late Jacque Cousteau.  So I created Dr. Feuillée.  He would go on to appear whenever I needed an ocean expert.  I have a few astronauts in the story, but as Astrid herself is something of an astrophysical engineering prodigy, they are less integral to the stories.

I’m very pleased with Astrid Maxxim and the Undersea Dome.  It really sort of cements the central cast of the series.  Astrid has grown to be my second best selling series, after Robot: Patience.  That makes me very happy, because I really love writing them.

Motivations: The Many Adventures of Eaglethorpe Buxton

Eaglethorpe BuxtonAfter finishing the two Eaglethorpe Buxton stories way back in 2009, I had always planned to write a third to finish up the story arc.  I had planned out Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Queen of Aerithraine in my head shortly after I wrote Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress.  I just never seemed to find the time to sit down and write it.

In 2012, I finished writing The Young Sorceress and then polished up The Two Dragons, which had been written years before.  Then I spent a good bit of the year working on 82 Eridani: Journey (as yet upfinished and unpublished) and got about halfway through before kind of running out of steam.  I needed something to get me out of my own head, so I turned back to Eaglethorpe.

I’m always telling my son how to get rich– monetize your intellectual property.  Eaglethorpe was pretty popular, so rather than release a third free book I decided I would create something that those people who enjoyed it would be willing to pay for.  I decided I would write three new stories and bundle them with the two originals and sell it as a single book– The Many Adventures of Eaglethorpe Buxton.

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Queen of Aerithraine was written in a few days.  I had the story floating around in my head for years, after all.

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Amazons took only a little longer.  It was fun.  I had the basic idea, and the setting, like the other locations in EB, had come from the D&D game I had played years earlier with my kids.

I had the most fun writing Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Day of the Night of the Werewolf.  It started with only a title and went from there.  I just made it up as I went along.

I was pleased to finish The Many Adventures of Eaglethorpe Buxton and don’t really have any more stories at least like those.  Since publication, TMAOEB has been one of my slowest selling books, so the monetization hasn’t worked out so well, but if there’s a game company out there or a movie studio….

While I don’t have any more similar stories for Eaglethorpe, I have thought about some other possibilities.  One of them is Eaglethorpe’s Fractured Fairy Tales.  Another is Eaglethorpe Buxton’s Garden of Verse.  Maybe some day.

Motivations: The Two Dragons

The Two DragonsThe 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.

Motivations: The Young Sorceress

The Young SorceressWhen 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.

Motivations: Astrid Maxxim and her Amazing Hoverbike

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.

Motivations: His Robot Wife

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.



Motivations: The Drache Girl

The Drache GirlThe 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.

Motivations: The Dark and Forbidding Land

The Dark and Forbidding LandThe 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.