One of my earliest memories of writing was wondering how to spell the name of a planet I’d just made up. So, as any child would do, I asked my dad.
“You can spell it how you want.”
And there, at that moment, was a sense of unbounded creative license, let loose. I realised that the normal rules applicable to factual writing really didn’t apply. Or at least some of them didn’t.
About three years ago, after a near twenty year hiatus, I took up pen and paper once more and began plotting Ascending Angels, remembering that formative moment from my childhood and what it meant.
As an adult, I’d found that my ideas could finally stand on their own, with their feet planted firmly on the foundations only an adult could build; hard earned experience, observational knowledge, the lessons of failure, and those fleeting moments of success, pleasure, and joy that punctuate our lives.
Shortly after writing Earth Day, I found myself feeling like that child once more, wondering if more rules could be bent, broken, or discarded entirely.
A series of serials. Seriously?
It became apparent to me that Earth Day had potential beyond itself and its own novella confines. A kind of potential I’d stumbled upon not quite by chance but by “idle” imagining, though few thoughts that appear in the mind of the creative are truly idle.
I’d written Earth Day while awaiting feedback from friends for an advanced draft of Ascending Angels. And it’s more than likely that the context of that novel was the seed for the idea I had.
Much of what takes place in Earth Day has a correlation with Ascending Angels, and by extension the events of two other novels I had planned as part of a series; Perdition’s End, and Gods of War. However, the idea of extending this series in such a way made little sense to me; Earth Day, which is a novella, would need to surrounded by those other novels. Bookended, no less. I found the idea weird.
But then I began thinking about those other novels and novellas I had in the works, and it became apparent that they too, in their own way, fit within this “universe” I was building.
“What, like the Marvel Universe?”
Soon, the idea of a series of novels was less appealing to me than the prospect of creating a constellation of novels and novellas, each connected to another in some way — be it a technology, a character, a company, an event, place, or alien race. I had found something that truly appealed to my sense of grand design.
Imagine, every single story connected to another in some way, weaving a thread through space and time, with each story revealing something else, something perhaps trivial, or maybe deep and provocative, but each incrementally building upon the one before.
“What, like the Marvel Universe?” Christy said, without a hint of sarcasm.
Yes, I suppose so! But if I were to abandon an idea just because someone else had gotten there first — having created their own universe, of all things — then there’s not much hope for anyone else.
2 for the price of 1
But why stop with one universe when I could have two? Again, not entirely by design, but I have ended up with two universes (sadly, no spoilers), which forces upon me at least one restriction, in that rather than fumble over the plural form of universes, which just sounds clumsy, I have elected for continuum, which — while perhaps a little pretentious — it makes infinitely more sense, both literally and figuratively.