In 2012 and 2013 the floodgates opened with numerous story sales and publications. I even published my first novella, an ebook. Then I lost momentum. Everything from that time is a scramble in my brain. I had a death in the family that threw me for a loop, multiple projects, and high hopes.
It began with the sale of a short story originally envisioned and started in 1996, then finished and rewritten in the year 2000. I never imagined how long it’d take to sell that story. Yes, 12 years to sell it and 13 years to see it in publication, if we only count from the year of the rewrite.
I’m sometimes asked when you should give up on a story. It’s a hard question to answer. Some stories sell quickly, some take longer, and some never sell. In this business perseverance is everything.
The origin of the story begins much earlier than even 1996 though. The first inkling arrived when I was in high school. Back then, a new game show appeared on the air later at night, at least in my market. The program, American Gladiators, pitted superhero type muscle men and women against your run of the mill athletic but common Joe and Janes.
The contrast reminded me of Joe Buscemma’s depiction of the superhero vs. the ordinary person in How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way.
While watching the program, an idea hatched. Raye Hollitt (Skin Deep), a female bodybuilder who used the stage name Zap, inspired me.
Wouldn’t it be interesting to cast her in an action film like the ones in which Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger starred? I decided the world was not ready for that idea, and besides, I didn’t know how to write or submit a screenplay, anyway.
Around 1996, with the 1980s horror fiction implosion far behind me, I returned to reading Science Fiction. I picked up copies of science fiction magazines, read Neuromancer, and caught up on some 80’s SF I had missed.
While perusing an issue of Science Fiction Age, I read a steampunk story and used it as the model for the tone of my next manuscript. Continuing to take my cue from that story, I mirrored not only the mood, but the female lead. Unfortunately, after looking through a pile of back issues, I haven’t been able to identify the story that inspired me.
As I wrote, the muscular female idea reemerged and Irina Kira was born. I remember reading or thinking Kira was a Russian name that meant Strong woman. Although, Kira, from my research for this post, means “leader of the people.”
I decided a Russian first name, Irena, which means peace, matched one theme of the story. Leading the people into peace seems à propos, but what happens after the end of the story is up to your interpretation.
I envisioned a muscular woman living in what had once been a utopian society within a biosphere orbiting Venus. A popular self-help book of the time, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, inspired me to use Venus as the location for the orbiting biosphere space station.
Looking for a name for the biosphere/space station, I dreamed up the Audallis Sphere. It sounded like something out of a SF story.
I came up with a history of the biosphere and the science behind Audallis’ artificial gravity, neither made the completed manuscript.
Then I chose to include a controversial idea that would forever change the direction of the manuscript.
We’ll talk about that next time.