This month marks four years since I released the omnibus edition of my Syzygy novella series. Although a book’s birthday makes me smile like a nostalgic parent, this particular milestone is bittersweet, because I haven’t published anything since. What kind of indie author goes that long without a new title on the market?!
One with an evolving identity as a writer.
Syzygy and my debut novel, Blue Karma, originated in ideas from my teens. It took a decade before I overcame enough English-department-induced self-doubt to put them on paper as YA books. By the time I’d completed both legacy projects, I’d entered my 30s, and my connection to adolescent audiences felt distant. Eager for creative growth, I started writing my first adult science fiction novel. After 16 months and almost as many rounds of revision, the story still didn’t “click”.
I shelved the manuscript to prepare for my big job relocation to Australia. Then COVID-19 interrupted travel, leaving me and my Laddie in limbo. With lots of time and few possessions besides my laptop, the pandemic offered an unlikely writer’s retreat. But the dark world of my erstwhile novel wasn’t one I felt like visiting. Instead, I wrote a piece in the style of childhood favorites I re-read during lockdown. Creating a vibrant headspace for myself during a high-anxiety time, I realized where I’d gone wrong with the adult project.
I’d stopped having fun.
Determined to write a “literary” novel, I’d warped my story from a simple cyberpunk thriller into a pretentious allegory that groaned under the weight of its own ambition. It was well-written. It was meticulously plotted. And it was hollow. The missing element I couldn’t identify was the story’s soul. Yet the core concept still intrigued me. So when my sister suggested I try writing mystery—her favorite genre—I salvaged a few pieces from the wreckage and re-engineered them into a whole new story.
This time, it worked. The puzzles I always weave through my plots needed only a little encouragement to become a “whodunit”. My lifelong fascination with investigative dramas made the structural beats feel as familiar as the bass line of a favorite song. Learning a new form took some effort—even with research into the unique craft of mystery novels, it took me a few drafts to bring everything together—but I’m pleased with the result. I couldn’t have done it without editorial insights from my sister. Now I hope the book can repay her, in the literal sense.
My sister suffers from severe Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). For those unfamiliar, EDS is a connective tissue disorder that causes musculoskeletal problems, nervous system malfunctions, and a host of other issues. Disability makes her every day a challenge. The deeper my novel delved into the public health consequences of climate change, the more it paid homage to her ordeal, including the frustration of dealing with a broken healthcare system. Medical bills threaten to crush her. Since she’s too sick to resume work, even the paltry profits from an indie novel might help…if I ever publish another one.
How about another four? Individual titles might not earn much, but a successful series could generate some financial relief for my sister. So no more wallowing in my authorial identity crisis: I’ve planned a quartet of biopunk murder mysteries, and anticipate the first book’s release this year. Please keep up with my blog over the next few months so you don’t miss the teasers, cover reveal, and giveaways for…