When I first began work on the story that would become The Desolation Trilogy, I really had no idea what an amazing and convoluted journey I was setting out on.
I was in my early twenties when I began, and there were periods where I shoved the project aside; frustrated and insecure in what I was trying to achieve with it. Sometimes I had to set it aside because events in my life dominated my time; such as when I had to be a caretaker for my parents when their health failed, or when a troubled marriage finally came to a catastrophic end. I moved across the country, remarried, and fought to simply survive the daily trials and travails of the world.
Fortunately, it was the woman I was lucky enough to marry who encouraged me to get serious about fine-tuning and finishing the story. She had experience in editing, so even though she wasn’t a science-fiction fan by nature she expressed willingness to go over the manuscript and look for inconsistencies and grammatical issues. As I worked on that final draft, I would send her the bits I had finished… and was never more surprised or delighted than when she looked at me and scolded me for not writing faster so she could find out what happened next! Suddenly, not only was she editing the story but she found herself sucked in and genuinely enjoying the tale I was spinning!
It was at that point that a lot of my own doubts evaporated. If my wife – someone not really interested in sci-fi – could find herself enjoying the story I was telling then maybe I was a better writer than I’d given myself credit for! I set to finishing the story with a will, then went to work getting it published (again, with my wife’s enthusiastic – sometimes fiercely aggressive – encouragement), and once that had been done I sat back, took a deep breath, and began to think about what project I should dedicate myself to next.
I had a lot of ideas at that point; notes and short passages on a number of different potential projects… but I found myself thinking about the path I had been on to finish the original story, and everything that had happened in my own life over the intervening years, and I realized just how fundamentally different my life was; even how fundamentally different I was from the young man I’d been when I started. I began to wonder just how different the characters of my story might be after they endured the challenges presented to them, and where they might be later in their lives.
I’d already decided that the universe created in The Desolation Trilogy would be a fertile ground for future stories, but one idea in particular – the tale of a young woman thrust into a crisis and having to learn about survival in an environment completely alien to her prior life experiences – seemed to perfectly dovetail into a way to revisit the characters I’d come to know so well and see how they had changed over the course of the intervening few years since The Desolation Trilogy had come to a close.
How would they evolve? Who would they have become? What roles would they play in helping to mentor the young woman through the dangers and pitfalls of her own situation? How would she respond to their influences and the lessons they had to offer her?
It was almost a surprise to find myself fascinated by the idea of revisiting the characters that I’d sometimes thought I was ready to leave behind, and be excited and reinvigorated about diving back into their lives and seeing what they’ve been up to!