There’s always more to a book than meets the eye. Here’s some behind-the-scenes info about my new YA science fiction novel Freefall!
1. I started writing Freefall in November 2013, the first time I participated in National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo (where participants attempt to write a novel in thirty days). I wrote 50,000 words in those thirty days, largely by ignoring everything else in my life! But as you can imagine, writing at that breakneck pace, the book was a complete mess. So I spent the next two years expanding it and getting it into shape.
2. The first thing I came up with for Freefall was the title. I had no idea what it referred to in the novel; I just liked the word. It wasn’t until midway through the draft that I named one of the spaceships in the book the Freefall.
3. I typically draft on the keyboard, but occasionally I’ll write a scene out longhand if I can’t easily get to my computer. That’s what happened with the prologue to Freefall, which I scribbled on the back of a printed-out page from one of my earlier novels as soon as I woke up on the morning of November 1. Here it is; as you can see—assuming you can read my handwriting!—it’s similar but not identical to the prologue in the published novel.
4. My son was ten years old when I started writing Freefall, and at the time, he was really into football. (I can’t tell you how many pass routes he ran in our back yard while I threw to him.) So I named the three main male characters—Cam, Adrian, and Griff—after his favorite NFL players.
5. In the opening scene of Freefall, Cam reads personal data that’s displayed on the screen of his deep-space pod: height, weight, eye color, birthday, etc. I thought that would be a fun way to provide a physical description of my narrator without resorting to the overused device of having him look in a mirror. When it came to choosing his birthday, I could have just made up a date, but I decided, well, he’s my narrator, so he’s kind of me, so why not give him my own birthday? So we were both born on February 5. The only difference is the year: I was born in 1965, and he was born in 2134!
6. If you’ve read my other books, Survival Colony 9 and Scavenger of Souls, you know I love monsters. So forFreefall, I created a really horrific alien and drew a sketch of it to help me write the descriptive parts. Problem is, it didn’t make the final cut; a totally different creature did. Which meant I had a cool monster but nothing to do with it. Hm, maybe I should post it here!
7. At one point in Freefall, my teen heroine, the revolutionary leader Sofie, tells Cam about Plato’s Allegory of the Cave (a favorite text of English teachers like me). I thought it would be fun if her words turned out to be prophetic, so I based a later scene in the novel on Plato’s allegory. Bonus points if you can spot it!
8. Just for the heck of it, I decided to create one of the physical objects that appears in Freefall: a drawstring bag imprinted with the logo of JIPOC, the company that finances the mission to colonize another planet. Then I said to myself, “Why create this just for me?” So I had a whole bunch of bags printed to give away to readers. If you want one, stop by one of my events, or go to my blog to find out how to get one!