crystal ball over book

Write Like You’re Gazing into a Crystal Ball?

Sometimes it feels as if there’s a crystal ball kind of clairvoyance going on when I write each novel of my Other Worldly series. Or perhaps I fervently hope that if I write something, it might come to fruition in some form or another. Like, maybe, actual accountability for Earth’s all-too-human bad guys will eventually happen.

I’ve “predicted” things of lesser consequence before, wherein I fabricated a massive spherical building like the one now being built on the Las Vegas Strip, albeit mine has three tiers, not merely one.

Planet Wynne, as it’s known beginning with the first novel, Alienable Rights, depicts a ringed planet on the bottom, a mid-level resembling a flying saucer (complete with a flight deck on the outer rim), and an upper portion appearing as Earth’s moon.

A rather elaborate architectural design imagined for a place that already contains many, but it seemed over the top when I came up with it back in 2018.

Recently I read an online article for Pipeline Artists that resonated with me for this very reason. The piece by Jeffrey York titled, “Something Writers Can Look Forward To…No One Knows Anything,” discussed how nobody knows for sure what will sell or become a hit, making this lack of foresight a form of freedom.

“Nothing is certain, so why not take the risk and be as bold or unusual or as personal as we want to be in whatever we are creating?” said York.

Boy howdy, as my Other Worldly series female protagonist Rowan Layne would say.

The article addressed movie screenwriting in particular, but once again some of the best advice I’ve gotten comes from writers of that milieu. After all, it was Mary Robinette who shared at the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference back in 2019 the wisdom of entering a scene late and exiting early.

This is how I now aim to write all of my chapters, which also helps keep them short and evenly paced. Because each of the Other Worldly novels of roughly 375 pages has exactly 83 chapters. You don’t need a crystal ball to figure out why that particular number. You just need to read Alienable Rights to learn about Rowan Layne’s alien DNA percentages.

My latest novel launching soon, Altogether Alien, had me writing about potentially erupting volcanoes—and the Big Island of Hawaii—as it was fixing to happen in real life.

Kilauea was already spewing lava, and is right-this-minute doing so again, but Mauna Loa was quite unexpected for me, having not erupted in forty years or so. I got to see its resulting lava flows in person back in 1985, and was busy writing about that as it began erupting once again.

This wasn’t actually a prediction, but it still feels uncanny, as Rowan Layne would say. Kind of like when I created a Space Force before it happened in real life. Although I’m sorry it did, because attempting to “dominate” space, as the Air Force Secretary crowed about in 2019, is not a good look for humans.

And on the subject of aliens. Yes, they’ve been done—and perhaps overdone—in movies, TV shows, comic books (Superman is an alien, lest anyone forget), and novels. But why should I let that stop me from writing about my own version of alien species who aren’t necessarily here to destroy or dominate Earth?

Just because literary agents or traditional publishing houses can’t conceive of fresh material from an unknown literary voice doesn’t mean I shouldn’t feel free to come up with my own original take on ET, little green men, close encounters, or resident aliens.

It’s not like I’m gazing into a crystal ball to try to guess the next big trend. I’m simply doing my own thing and being as personally bold about it as possible. Just as the Pipeline Artists article suggested.

I’ve got entirely new alien species introducing themselves in Altogether Alien, coming in late February/early March, as well as in the next and seventh Other Worldly novel already in the works, Aliens Watch.

My literary crystal ball says a few particularly pernicious humans, several serving in Congress or haplessly worshipping a vile ex-president, will meet a most fitting form of justice—if nowhere else other than in the pages of my books.

But if I write about it, could it please finally come true?


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