Back in 1992, I had a strange thought that was both interesting and scary. As it refused to go away, I opened the word-processor on a Mac Plus I’d just acquired and wrote down four lines of dialogue. Over the next few months it expanded into an interesting story, including many ideas that at the time were, quite frankly, either too fanatical or just plain weird. One thing led to another and before I knew it I was down a rabbit hole, imagining a world of wonders and horrors.
My biggest challenge was finding a way to distil the torrent of ideas that needed to be in the story, so that it matched my vivid imagination. I needed to interpret them in such a way as to make it both easy for me to write down, and more importantly, easy for people to read.
When I started writing the first book, the heart of the story arc seemed a little far-fetched, rather bizarre and, in retrospect, I can understand why. Unlike other fantasy story genres, where readers are expected to suspend belief, this story was based on the world we live in. Of course there are elements of fantasy, but much of the real story focuses on things I believed at the time and still do, however fantastical, were likely to happen.
The first book was always going to be the hardest to write, as it sets the tone for the anything that follows. Throughout its conception, I was constantly writing and re-writing the characters, scrapping whole sections of the book and revising the storyline, but over the years it coalesced into a story that I am very happy with.
I’m not a slow writer it’s just that the story needed to get to a level that was acceptable to me, and that was never going to be an overnight affair. Interestingly, as my writing skills improved, it forced me to rewrite the first of the four books several times, in order to maintain a consistent writing style, with the second and subsequent novels.
Due to the darker overtones that had been hinted at in the first book, when I wrote the second book I took the opportunity to explore the characters in more detail, pushing them in new directions exposing both their strengths and the weaknesses. At the time it felt like I was looking at a creepy door, not knowing what I would find when I opened it. But in hindsight the second book has added so much to the story arc and and as a result it has been made all the better because of the foundation and effort I put into the first book.
Initially the second book started as a chronological continuation of the story, but as the ideas developed, it expanded the world the characters lived in, in ways I’d never expected. This led me to heavily research Australian culture both pre and post 19th century. I also took the opportunity to research the latest technology developments, which helped me draw further connections between now and our unwritten future.
With the completion of Phoenix Ascending, I took a breather and thought about what had so far been written. It wasn’t long before I turned my attention to the third book in the series. I have a substantial chunk written, but due to other commitments I’ve taken a small writing holiday to have a think, or as some might say, ‘get past my writers block.’
All throughout this odd writing journey, I’ve been exploring a path that every day seems more and more likely to happen in the real world. Although it is a much-quoted cliché, I felt I was fulfilling my calling. The closer I get to the fourth and final book, the more I realise that I am one step nearer to completing the journey I started almost 25 years ago. Strangely enough as we move towards 2050, my personal feelings on how I thought the future might turn out all those years ago don’t seem so far fetched after all.
Even though I believe that the future is only fixed until you see it, something in those dreams and ideas I had all those years ago, has me more than a little worried. I keep hoping it’ll be different, but every time I see something on the news or I visit a website, I’m not so sure anymore. From what I know now, and what I saw then, we’re not just running towards the flames of our own downfall, we’re galloping towards them.
On a final note, all I can really add is the old and often quoted phrase, ‘be careful what you wish for as it may come true.’
. . . but then again maybe it’s fanciful thinking on my part.