It was 2009 and His Robot Girlfriend was being dowloaded by the tens of thousands. I had just finished editing The Voyage of the Minotaur and was entering it into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. (It made it to round two.) So what to write next?
I wanted to do something short and fun and I decided on a fantasy comedy. I had read and enjoyed Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, particularly the character of Lemony Snicket who is narrator and somehow involved with the characters and frequently hints at things outsidet the story. I decided that my hero would be a story-teller who changed the story to suit himself. Eaglethorpe Buxton was born.
I set the story in (sort of) the world I had created for my D&D campaign. My kids still have fond memories of some of the settings in which the stories take place and even met some of the characters when they played– notably Queen Elleena of Aerithraine. I had a lot of fun writing EBEP and many people have written to tell me that they like him. I’ve heard a few negative comments too, but that’s okay.
The book is very short and was always intended as a freebie, but there are a very few paperback copies around.
It was 2008, and I had just finished writing the first draft of a massive fantasy novel that I was calling The Steel Dragon. This would eventually become The Voyage of the Minotaur, The Drache Girl, and The Two Dragons. I printed up 10 copies and handed them out to friends to read and edit over the summer. Each one was a 4″ thick notebook. I had also just self-published Princess of Amathar.
While I was waiting for the editing to be completed, I thought I needed something to post to Feedbooks and Manybooks to get my name out there. I had written some sci-fi flash fiction a few years earlier and thought I could piece them together to make a novel. This became the first half of His Robot Girlfriend and I wrote the other half over the summer (while teaching summer school). I published it online and was astounded at the interest. At one time, it was the third most downloaded book on Feedbooks.
His Robot Girlfriend succeeded in getting my name out there. It’s been downloaded almost 500,000 times, has been reviewed numerous times, and I get many emails and notes from people that enjoy it. Part of this has to do with the fact that it came out at the same time that Apple Books was founded. It was in the top ten free downloads on what was then called iBooks, for years. That being said, I think it’s far from my best story.
One comment that detractors frequently make about His Robot Girlfriend (feedback is overwhelmingly positive) is that Patience has no will of her own. She is a robot, duh! But this gave me an idea for the new book– His Robot Wife: Patience is a Virtue. It shows a bit more from her point of view and we find out that not everything is as Mike thinks it is.
The newest edition of the series will be His Robot Wife: A Great Deal of Patience, and will be the first full-length novel featuring the characters. And as they title suggests, it will feature a great deal of Patience.
I 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.
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.
His Robot Wife: Patience Under Fire has been out for a week and sales are better than I had hoped. Thanks to all of you for your support, both financial and emotional.
His Robot Wife: Patience Under Fire is out and available as an ebook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo Books, Walmart Ebooks, Smashwords, and other outlets. It is also available as a paperback from Amazon. I will be updating the book page with links ASAP.
The book had a really great premier, doing well enough to appear on the New Releases and Trending Now spots on the Smashwords front page. Thanks to all of my readers and a special thanks to my Patreon supporters.
I will make a promise right now. The time between the second and third book will be much shorter than between the first and second.
In preparation for the release of the final book in The Sorceress and the Dragon series (AKA Senta and the Steel Dragon), I’m issuing new editions of the earlier books. I just uploaded the new edition of The Voyage of the Minotaur. It should be available as you read this.
If you haven’t read this series, now would be a good time to start. For the next 30 days, visitors to this site can get the book free at Smashwords. Just follow this link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/11536. Be sure to use coupon code: LF93V at the checkout, or you will be charged full price.