(Part One of a Three Part Series)
Writers hear it again and again: write the book you want to read. I’ve been circling closer and closer for years. No, for decades. I’ve always had a soft spot for science fiction. I was a part of the generation who were wakened from cozy beds to watch astronauts set foot on the moon. I remember sitting very close to the TV in an attempt to see the puffy men better. Mom and Dad got us up to see stellar activity as well: constellations, planets that came closer than usual or lined up in a row, and comets, infrequent but lovely visitors to our world.
I sat in the front row the day the For Reals NASA Astronaut talked to us in school, and if I hadn’t already fallen deeply in love with books and writing, I’m certain I would have tried for work at NASA. As I grew older, I tagged along when my dad went to lectures on space, stars, UFO’s, and one very special time, to a talk delivered by Ray Bradbury, who shook my hand, treated me like an adult, and signed my book. (He paused for a peppermint first, telling me his breath tasted like six dead rats—a phrase I have never forgotten. Why six? Why dead? Why rats? Oh, what wonderful things you can do with words!)
In middle-school, I checked out science fiction books, asked my nerdiest teachers to recommend more authors, and hid the book covers so my girlfriends wouldn’t sneer. Heinlein I liked, Asimov I didn’t understand, and Bradbury terrified me, but I couldn’t stay away! My own writing at this time always veered quickly to the speculative, although again, I hid it from everyone but a few teachers.
Eventually I discovered The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, The Sword of Shannara and the Prydain books. Stories with an epic villain and heroes who didn’t all die in the cold vacuum of space at the novel’s close. I liked this better—these hope-filled endings—and set aside my search for written Sci-Fi, enjoying doses of screen Sci-Fi instead. I’ve only started reading Sci-Fi again in the last few years (and death-by-the-great-vacuum-of-space is still popular), but I’ve maintained a soft spot for attenders of Star Trek conventions and get tears in my eyes riding Mission: Space in Florida. (The part where Gary Sinese tells me it’s okay to feel a little scared and he’s proud of me? OMGZ—where’s my Kleenex???)
You must write the book that only you can write. You must write even when you are scared to death everyone will hate it but you. You must write what you love. These words echoed in my head for decades, a Grecian chorus of voices, insistent. And right, too, I knew. But for so very long, I wasn’t ready to share anything Sci-Fi that I’d written. Something about recalling too clearly the snickering when classmates saw my copy of THE MAKING OF STAR TREK. (I know. I know. But that is for Part Two.)
Well, I’ve done it now. I’ve gone and written the first book in a science-fiction series. (Cover reveal coming in Part Three of this post!) I’m terrified. Will the cool kids still be laughing? I think it might be the best thing I’ve ever written. It’s the kind of book I love to read—with a cause worth fighting for and flying through the stars and love and loss and in the end, hope. And I do hope, dear reader, that some of you have a soft spot for science fiction as well. Anyone feeling brave enough to confess?