Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Origins of Earth Angel and the Writing Process

It is common knowledge that my significant other, "Alexx Momcat", is a paranormal romance fanatic. A couple of years ago, while brainstorming on birthday gift ideas, I had an idea (note the lack of descriptive adjective before the word "idea"). Why don't I just write her a paranormal romance? How hard can it be? With a little over three months to go, I figured that I had plenty of time. I barely finished Book One in time for her birthday. Well, I got the paranormal part down. To my credit, there are romantic elements. However, to date, no one has accused me of writing a paranormal romance

I have never been a big proponent of extra-terrestrials visiting from outer space. The vast distances between the galaxies leaves the possibility too remote in my mind. Of course, this doesn't stop me from writing science fiction that includes space travel between worlds. I am much more receptive to inter-dimensional travel, which gave rise to the Seven Realms.

Alexx Momcat liked the old tv series Sliders, about several humans who slip into parallel dimension Earths that are similar to ours. In Sliders, there was a nasty lizard-like humanoid race trying to control the multiple Earths. In the movie The One, Jet Li tries to kill off the other world copies of his character. So I needed a new take. I decided to create a threat that would cause the veil between the worlds to dissipate, causing the worlds to crash together, etc., etc. (I know, crashing worlds is 1950's sci-fi.)

Okay. I had a premise. Veil between worlds imperiled—situation bad. So next I had to decide, is it natural decay, or the result of outside influences. I liked the latter better. Next up—causation. Science or Magic? Science? Magic? Both? I couldn't decide, so I took both. 
In Sliders, all of the worlds were copies of Earth as we know it. I wanted the Seven Realms worlds to be a bit different. So the worlds are placed on a continuum. The First Realm is a world where the laws of physics strongly predominate. Only the strongest practitioners of magic can access their powers and abilities. Humans reside in the Second Realm, commonly known as Earthside. The laws of physics govern much of this Realm, but magic is fairly accessible. Eventually, by the time you reach the Seventh Realm, wild magic rules. Reality is only as real as the moment.

I needed some fanciful characters. Since Earth Angel was supposed to be a paranormal romance, just plain vanilla, off the shelf, humans alone would not suffice. I made a couple of lists of potential characters from a number of different pantheons, including Norse mythology, Greek mythology, Indian mythology and more. I had another list with the usual suspects, vampires, shape-shifters, incubi and succubi, etc. Finally, I decided to use all of them. Every creature and entity that was ever known or imagined exist, or existed at one time, somewhere in the Seven Realms.

It was time to start writing. I don't work from an outline. I may have a general idea of where my story starts, and where it ends. However, sometimes I just start a story and see where it leads. Other times, I have a grand finale in mind, and have to figure out what characters and actions are needed to get there. This time I was armed with a general premise, and an explosive finale. So I started writing.


One of the best things about fantasy writing is that you can do whatever you want. Really. You aren't bound by the laws of physics, history, time, or geography. If you need a mountain range in the middle of Kansas, you can just put one there. Similarly, your characters can do anything you want. So I started out Earth Angel with a 400 year old, body stealing TechnoWitch that linked her id to her computers to locate a demon, to help her release the Anarch from the Veil, so she could steal the Anarch's body. I figured if magic and technology were going to go at it head to head, they might as well start out as friends. That was fun.
Next I needed to introduce my hero, Prince Dzhok (who goes by “Jack” when Earthside) of the Qpiad (commonly misspelled in English as “cupid”). Jack is a human looking humanoid with one outstanding feature. No matter the species, size, shape or color (yes, color—it makes a difference in hamadryads and some other species) of his partner, Qpiad males are always a perfect fit. Jack will always be the right length and width to please his partner. Put Jack into play and move on. 
Enter Salash, the High Sidhe Ambassador to the Court of Queen Amura (Jack's mother). Short, copper skinned, flame red hair and chrome diopside green eyes (all green, no whites). She is Jack's oldest friend, periodic lover, the mother of 22 of his 1900 plus kids. Salash takes Jack on a detour to hunt for the Anarch. Still having fun.

Introduce the Anarch, wandering freely and corporeally. Have her talk to a, uh, er, Lithuanian goddess. Enter Vejamate the Mother of Winds and her sisters. By now the rules were clear. It's my fantasy fiction. So I can put anyone I want in it (who isn't subject to trademark or copyright infringement).
Slowly the story grew, a thousand words one day, a couple of hundred the next. Unfortunately, as the birthday drew nigh, the story was only about a third finished. So I took the expedient route and created a minor climax, and called what was written Book One, never really intending to go on to Books Two and Three. Fortunately, Alexx Momcat had other ideas.

There is no “one way” to write. Extemporaneous writing works for me. It may not work for others. I “drop ship” my research, doing it as necessary. I don't work from a copious set of index cards, and a story board or time line. My writing takes me where it needs to go. Don't worry if your story isn't turning out the way you originally envisioned it. One of the best stories I ever wrote came out of an attempt to just blow off some steam when I came home thoroughly pissed off at having been stood up on a date.

Pay attention to the basics (spelling, grammar, etc.), but don't obsess over it, particularly in the first draft. Just get the story down. You can always revise it later. I wrote a screenplay with a male hero. When I was done, I was happy with the result, but I thought it would have been much better with a heroine instead. So I turned it around. Zorro became Zorra (optioned once, but not produced, alas). Whether you choose to write flash fiction, or a modern day War and Peace, stick with it. Write on!


  1. Fascinating.

    It absolutely amazes me to see how a sci-fi writer's mind works. I'm a huge fan of the genre, as is my husband. And yes, I have tried to write it, but it never quite works out the way I want.

    That you can keep all of these little connections and details active in your mind all at once is absolutely amazing.

    And yes, Alexx is fabulous. I love her to pieces, and think it's beautiful that you've used her as your muse. :)

  2. Thank you Charlie! And Thank you Siobhan for such sweet comments!