This is a surprisingly complicated topic for me. Technically, my first novel was written several years ago, then published, then rewritten and re-released in a new edition when I started up my own publishing company, Queen of Swords Press. I started working on Medusa’s Touch before that happened, but didn’t finish it until Queen of Swords was up and running. I started Medusa’s Touch before Emily L. Byrne existed, in fact. So this post is actually about writing my first novel under this name, which is not my “real” name and not my ‘first” novel. Welcome to the wild and wacky writing life!
I’ve written elsewhere about the history of Medusa’s Touch, my spicy lesfic science fiction romance and about why I adopted a pseudonym for my sexy writing (link) so this post will focus on my writing process for this particular book. Medusa’s Touch started out life as a novella. Well, really, it started with an idea along the lines of “how come I haven’t written any cyberpunk?” I don’t remember if the original idea was the result of something I was asked to write for a specific anthology or it just came to me one day and I started writing about TiCara, a medusa pilot who flies her spaceship with tentacle-like implants, and Sherin Khan, a beautiful intergalactic corporate rep with a bunch of secrets. Both of the characters are damaged by the world they live in, TiCara by her past as a former sex slave to corporate spies and assassins and Sherin by the loss of the implants she valued. Both of them are prepared to do almost anything they have to do to control their own destinies. And apart from the basic world-building, this is where the similarities between the original version and the novel ended.
Unlike a lot of fiction writers, I didn’t get started writing novels when I was a tyke, or even as an occasionally angst-ridden college student. I sat down when one day when I was in my early 30s, wrote up a short story, sent it out the door and had it get accepted. I quit law school a few days later and started writing (along with various day jobs).
What this meant for my longer term writing career was:
a. I had no trunk novels lying around waiting to be revised or transformed into new work and b. I only wrote short fiction and nonfiction articles for about a decade of my writing life because those fit well with my schedule and I often got immediate gratification from selling them. Also, for some social context, I was writing a lot of literary erotica and there was a booming anthology market for it. One of those stories was a novella length erotic cyberpunkish tale that went on to get an honorable mention from the Gaylactic Spectrum Awards. It was called…"Medusa’s Touch" because once I give something a title, I have a hard time letting go.
Years passed. I finally started writing novels. I finished a novel and saw it get published. I got asked for more novels. I poked around at my pile of miscellaneous writings and my wife said, “What about that story about the woman with the tentacles that she uses to fly a spaceship?” This got repeated until it sank in. I created a book proposal and sent it in. Stuff happened and then I had an outlined novel draft and then a half-finished novel. And a publishing contract I had no intention of signing. The book in progress had no home or deadline, but it did have the pilot with the tentacles. And her hot lover. And some science fictional worldbuilding. So I dug in and wrote the whole novel. Then rewrote it. Then rewrote it a bunch more. I expanded the cast of characters, added a lot more details to the world-building, added some additional queer representation, fleshed out some of the secondary characters and made other changes to turn it into the current Medusa’s Touch, which I released through Queen of Swords Press earlier this year.
I should also note that my real first novel, Silver Moon, also grew out of a novella. I think that novellas function as the equivalent of outlines for a determined pantser like myself. It gives me a jumping off point as well as enabling me to organize my thoughts and my plots. But I also think that using novellas as a my “book starter” is a thing that I am starting to grow out of as a writer. None of my novels currently in progress have used novellas as a starting place. But can I finish them? That is burning question. I’m certainly giving it my best shot. All I can say is to please stay tuned for more books. I’ve got a lot more stories in me and I think they’ll emerge a t bunch of different lengths. Sometimes, you need to grow into your stories.
Next up on the Blog Hop, check out Serena Bishop's blog on her first novel. Find out how Serena managed to balance life, a science thesis, and write a novel (or three) in five years without driving herself or the people around her crazy. Serena J. Bishop officially joined the lesfic writing community in 2017 and has loved every moment it. When social media isn't distracting her, she writes about the dramas that play out in her mind when she is supposed to be focused on something else. Her first novel Beards has received positive reviews. She loves her wife and chihuahua. http://www.