Why I write fiction novels
December 24, 2023
Why I write fiction with sci-fi, medical and sometimes paranormal bent. The Next Day.
My first novel takes shape
The first book I wrote was The Next Day. But, this book I published third. I think I needed to learn more about writing. I started it right after 9/11/2001 and finished it after a couple of years.
Many questions I wanted to answer
I wanted to learn about how and why someone becomes a terrorist. Try to figure out why we in the US went overboard about Muslim hatred.
I started writing it by hand in those composition books, then graduated to Word Press.
Put in a little medical sci-fi,
I have always had a penchant for near-future, medically related sci-fi books like Michael Crichton. So, the protagonist, Alex Smith had a common name, but uncommon job, working in a secret, technically illegal microbial lab in Brazil where an old US Navy tropical medicine lab used to be.
Add supersecret bio-research microbial lab, prior Navy base
I had been stationed in Edzell, Scotland which was a Naval Security Group Agency base—i.e. supersecret jobs, so developing Alex felt good.
International setting, villain and hero connected, supernatural powers
And, being a Navy guy, I wanted it set internationally, but ending in Colorado, where I grew up. The sci-fi medical twist came when Alex and his mirror image terrorist, Jabril, were exposed to a virus that caused DNA mutations that exaggerated their underlying personality traits and gave them supernatural powers.
The end is good against evil in Colorado
Alex and Jabril must eventually battle, symbolically good against evil.
Now it was time to get it published. I tried various agents once we moved to Colorado in 2005. Too many rejections. I got frustrated and put The Next Day away and wrote another book.
Why I wrote Dan’s War
The biggest reason was frustration with Big Oil.
Dan’s War blossomed out of my hating the high price of gas in the 2006-2008 time frame. Big Oil was continuing to make record profits, yet not lowering the price to the consumer of a gallon of gasoline. Will America ever become interested enough in green energy to leave fossil fuels and make a difference in global warming?
Sink or Swim
So, I thought, what if all the oil just disappeared in weeks. Sink or swim philosophy. We must do something. But, the further I got, more dominos started to fall when oil disappeared. World War III or The Oil War started.
My hero had to be in support sector and weird.
Being in the support sector of the Navy, I also wanted to have the hero, Dan, not be a warrior, but a support CIA guy. He became a disguise guy. He also had to be a little weird, so became a high functioning, on-the -spectrum guy lacking social skills.
The hero needed help from a field agent
He needed a special CIA field agent, Sam Houston—the same guy I used in The Next Day, similar to the Mission Impossible hero played by Tom Cruise, Ethan Hunt—a NOC list CIA agent, Not Otherwise Classified. I always loved those movies.
Time for more Sci-fi medical
Once again, I pulled a sci-fi scenario with the nanobacteria. I love the international settings, though it ends in an area I was familiar with–Eastern Louisiana, very close to Pensacola Naval Hospital.
Journey to self publishing this first book
I entered Dan’s War into a contest at Pike’s Peak Writers, and it came in third in the thrillers category. I felt sure that would be the ticket to an agent and publication. Yeah … no. Lots of rejections. I got a couple of teases, “Send me fifty pages. Send me the whole book.” But nobody bit.
I finally got frustrated and found a self-publishing outfit called Telemachus Press. So that was my first published book in 2011. It took four years from the date I finished it until it was published. A long time in my mind.
Next Book after Dan’s War
But, by then, I had been working as a fly-fishing guide, and started another novel about a fly-fishing guide and a serial killing doctor in Rocky Mountain National Park, The Guide. This book got first prize in thrillers at Pike’s Peak Writers. More on it next post.