I’m thrilled to have Christian Schoon stop by the blog, because I have a serious question for him and Zenn Scarlett: What Difficulties did you have transitioning between writing Zenn Scarlet and Under Nameless Stars?
CS: Funny you should ask. Not funny like 😀 but funny like Because you’ve hit on the part of crafting Under Nameless Stars that ended up being one of the more challenging/maddening/rewarding bits of authoring I dealt with in the year since Zenn Scarlett was published. The reason? The two average-length Zenn books were originally one near-epic-length book.
When I was writing the original draft(s) of Zenn, I paid no attention to word count. I let the story take as many pages as it needed to be told. Is this optimal procedure for breaking into to the current publishing environment? Probably not. But that’s how this book worked its way onto the page. In any case, shortly after my agent Adam at DeFiore & Co. began showing the manuscript around, we came to the decision to split the story in two. I had no problem with this; plenty of characters/action/alien biology to go around.
So, I put the hulk of the big, existing book on the operating table and brought out my little #15 scalpel blade and prepped for some delicate surgery. This phase didn’t last long. I quickly discovered that the tools I’d need for this procedure fell more into the class of bone saws and pneumatic rib-spreaders.
Like any author working on a sequel to any book, the main issue was ensuring that the new narrative arc of Under Nameless Stars continued the flow of book one to its logical climax, while still standing on its own. But as you might imagine, detaching a second book from a pre-existing story is a bit like separating conjoined twins; you spend a long time in the operating theater re-connecting the new entity’s veins and nerves, grafting bones, ensuring blood-flow to all major organs and then shocking the heart back to life and holding your breath as you wait to see if keeps beating.
Ultimately, the great thing about this experience (other than hearing that heartbeat, and being able to sell two books instead of one…) was the chance to re-imagine the path to the conclusion of the two-book arc-within-an-arc, which led to the arrival of some new characters/sub-plots that didn’t turn up in the book’s first incarnation (Charlie, the chimp-like, tech-savvy Loepith and his simstriss A.I. stalker, Lu, for instance). I don’t know about other authors, but for me, new faces suddenly peering out at me from inside my story-world are always welcome guests.
And that’s the scoop on my transition-ing from the first book to Under Nameless Stars. Thanks from both Zenn and I for letting me drop by the blog. Keep on scribin’!
Now For your chance to win a copy (ebook or physical – your choice!) of both Zenn Scarlett and Under Nameless Stars PLUS a Name Your Own Star Gift Package, simply answer the following question:
What Angry Robot Books imprint is the publisher of Under Nameless Stars?
a. Strange Horizons
b. Strange Chemistry
c. Strange Formula
d. Strange Reactiong
Read an Extract:
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