As an author, I constantly run into news articles or historical events where if I were to write them into the plot of a story, no one would believe it. It seems Shannon A. Thompson has the same issue and gives some excellent examples in this recent post on her Hate / Love Relationship with Historical Fiction.
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Reflections on the Creation Process by Anthony Stevens
My friend, the Sassy Brit, has a weekly challenge.
What’s On Your Desk, Wednesday?
I accepted her challenge, sent her a photo and a brief description, but then it occurred to me that some folks might be interested in a more detailed description of how I do what I do.
“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” – Cesar A. Cruz
Any discussion on the creative process should start with the physical environment and tools to be used. With that in mind, here’s a little background.
My wife and I have retired to a small apartment wing of the old family homestead. With this in mind, I downsized my office to include only that which I found critically useful.
The Multiplarity trilogy mentions several different spacecraft. It might be interesting to see the real-world examples that inspired these craft.
The first is, of course, the US Space Shuttle. While there are many good reasons why it never fully achieved its potential, the fundamental shape was the result of more than twenty-five years of airframe development. The Shuttle was such a good basic shape that the USSR copied it with their Buran Shuttle. A great deal has been written on both designs.
Behind the Creation Part 1 can be found here.
When I pause to consider it, Multiplarity not only has multiple plot lines with dozens of characters, but it required the detailed creation of four different fictional worlds. The first third of the book deals with a near future version of our world. The second part follows the founding of a lunar colony called Port Heinlein. The last part involves the reader with a rapidly maturing lunar colony and the colonization of two alien worlds. One is virtual and the other circles another sun.
What the heck am I talking about?
Ray Kurzweil and Vernor Vinge’ have written a great deal about the ‘Singularity’, but few have paid much attention. It has been called “the rapture of the nerds”. While the Singularity makes for interesting reading and conjecture, I don’t see it as totally transforming the entire human species.
At this writing, there are naked humans walking jungle trails and smearing frog snot on arrowheads. Within a few thousand kilometers, there are laptop computers, cellphones, aircraft carriers, and rockets able to lob men into orbit.
I’ve been following Dutchsinse for over a year now and I’ve checked some of his earlier work. He has an 80% success rate in predicting earthquakes. That’s better than NOAA predicts hurricanes. You might want to take a look at this video clip.
Let me preface this by mentioning I’n a bit of a history nerd. When I started to write a short dieselpunk story a few years ago, I knew the overall background for my tale. I also knew I needed a realistic setting.
The first step was to create a sub-folder under the folder I have my Work-In-Progress and call it research.
A central part of the tale takes place on the coast of south east Australia. Here are some of the steps my research led me over the next few months.
- I started with Google Earth and carefully examined the current cities, seaports, and terrain of SE Australia.
- I chose an area from the city of Albany, up to Waychinicup National Park, and Bald Island.
- My characters needed a fictional community so I had them develop it on the shore of Two Peoples Bay. That was the easy part.
- Next, came research on the history of that area from the turn of the 19th century up until WWII. This part of the project turned into more than 26 pages of URLs, notes, and dozens of photographs in my research folder.
- Beside humans, my tale also features a dozen or so machines as characters. Two of these are fictional, but based on existing devices. The rest actually existed in that timeframe. Here’s a partial list:
- Zeppelins – High technology airships between the two world wars.
- Schnellboot – German coastal warcraft, similar to the US PT boats.
- Cloud Dancer – Littoral Combat Ship with a trimaran steel hull, two seaplane catapults, and heavily weaponed.
- Cloud Singer – A huge and well-armed airship
- Kingfisher seaplanes – Use a lot during WWII
- The next item was a detailed timeline of the events. At this point, I planned to cover two generations of the families involved. I didn’t want my readers to be confused by any logic bombs. This was actually a two part process. In the first part, I created a timeline of real events, along with quotes from historicaly figures that would play background roles in the story.
- A list of Australian mineral resources was added to my research notes.
- A page of notes on the Aboriginal peoples of Australia prior to and during WWII.
- Notes on the Indian Empire (British Raj) at the turn of the century.
The first short story was released in both ebook and print format by Captiva Press as “Crazy Taylor”. I immediately realized there needed to be a sequel. Unfortunately, Captiva Press closed shop due to family and health issues, a few months later. “Crazy Taylor is not available at this time.
Crazy Taylor languished on the shelf while I was writing other tales over the next couple of years.
When I decided to setup this website, I worked with an editor to rewrite some of my previous works. A few of them had been previously published and a few have never seen the light of day before.
One day, I reread a gothic horror short tale I had written as a halloween project more than seven years ago. It dawned on me that it was actually the first chapter of a much longer steampunk tale. As soon as I started working on that, I realized it was the steampunk preguel to Crazy Taylor. The die had been cast and I got to work.
The dieselpunk short story has grown into a crossover work-in-progress of more than eighty thousand words. The new title is Airship Legacy and I expect it will be published third quarter of 2015.
The images below are part of my research notes. At this point, I’m looking for some beta readers for Airship Legacy. Drop me a line if you would like a preview.
These images are the original cover for Crazy Taylor, a promotional postcard showing the Cloud Dancer, and my original design for the Cloud Singer littoral warship.