01 Feb

Ask me a question: was Crystal Rain sold as part of a series

I’m limiting these to one a day, but since this morning’s was an easy cut/paste for me, here’s one I had to work at. Ebenstone asks in my ‘ask a question‘ comment thread:

When you sold Crystal Rain, did you mention it was part of a series in your query? (I’m gonna cheat a little here and ask 2) Could you share your query with your blog viewing audience? Thanks.

I sold Crystal Rain as a stand alone book. I wrote it as a stand alone book with no eye towards a sequel. I didn’t sell it with a query, I wrote the whole book for my agent, who then sent it to Tor. The synopsis I gave my agent back in 2004 was this:

A Divided World!

It is a world that once existed within a spider-web of wormholes, but was torn from its rightful place in a long ago war. Warmed by the remains of a mysterious star, it drifts through space towards a destination long since relegated to old myths. There is a single continent on this world, divided by a mountain chain called the Wicked Highs, and a deadly ocean rages offshore.

This is Nanagada. In the East, the tiny fifth of the continent is a jumble of Caribbean peoples. Their cities are fairly well developed, approaching the industrial age of Victorian Era England, but with a more “˜mash-it-up’ make do approach than a Western-styled world would have it.

Legends claim they arrived from another world but were unfortunate enough to settle near god-like beings who warred against each other. To protect themselves, Nanagadans destroyed the wormholes around their world. The strange gods caught behind fought the humans down to the surface in a bitter retaliation that left both sides devastated.

Some of these leftover gods roam the continent as lords of the Azteca, a human race they created at the end of the war. A small and lesser-seen number favor the Caribbean side. The Azteca have expanded and taken the entire Western area of the continent, up to the Wicked Highs. This land is called Aztlan, the Azteca Promised Land. Highly ritualized “˜flower wars’ involve Azteca province fighting Azteca province for sacrificial victims to their “˜gods.’ The Wicked Highs have kept the Aztecs away for many years.

Until now. With technology revived by their gods, the Aztecs have
developed the means to attack. For their “˜gods,’ this is the first step in a long plan to create a race of warriors that will continue a distant battle fresh only in the minds of these beings. This is the setup for the novel Crystal Rain, an unabashedly Steampunk tale in parts, with threads of a Caribbean Scientific Romance, and the hint of a galaxy spanning epic.

After this was a 3-4 page outline of Crystal Rain as it was in my head (you can see some differences even in this synopsis/teaser, such as an initial idea I had that Nanagada was moving to a certain location, and that the star it orbited was ‘mysterious’ which I dropped as I wrote it). After the outline were my first 3 chapters. Chapter 3 of the novel in print was my first chapter on the synopsis, chapter 2 was chapter 2, chapter 1 was added in later revision (this is why I tell student writers not to obsess over perfecting their opening chapter and opening lines until well into revisions and after the novel has been written).

Once Crystal Rain was done talk turned to a next novel, and I was asked if I had a sequel in mind, and if I could show a synopsis/outline for that. I’m trying to write each one like a standalone book, where you will enjoy reading it without reading the previous ones, but if you follow along and have read the previous ones, you get more out of it :-)