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.
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.
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 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.