What would you do if everything you were taught
about your home planet was a lie?
What would you do if you were Left Behind?
How These Books Come To Be
It starts out as nothing more than a passing thought. A random passing thought. Something kind of weird, kind of strange and farfetched, like what if those little green men from outer space are actually our long lost relatives? The wheels start turning. Ideas burst out of nowhere. What about an alien story told by an alien? A teenage alien who lives underground on a squalid planet destroyed by greed long before he was born!
Somehow what was just a thought evolves until the premise can support a novel. Or in this case, a trilogy. (Read the first book in the Left Behind Trilogy on Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.) But that's just the beginning. And I've got half a dozen of these beginnings waiting in the wings, waiting their turn. Not nicely, either. They claw and scratch, some more than others, and demand to be let out. While they're waiting each idea gets its own brainstorming notebook, a composition book where I free write and also capture any more random thoughts related to the idea. The brainstorming chart is probably the greatest thing I learned in K-12 so I use it a lot to expand the setting and plot further.
Characters, on the other hand, develop mostly in free writing. That's where they shine through, become more than a vague shadow at the back of my mind. That is where they begin to steer the plot. That is where they prove that they are their own person and I cannot tell them what to do. Like Endirion, the thirteen year old alien protagonist in The Forbidden Voyage. I really wanted him to be tougher. A hero! But no. No, he had to turn out to be an average kid instead. And the school bully I wanted to hate? Well, I guess he just knew too much and it was eating him up inside, because he turned out to be the gallant one.
In my world a story could be remanded to those lined, handwritten pages for months, even years. Meanwhile I'm writing another book that started out the same way, daydreaming about quitting my job to write full time, and taking mini holidays in VanCity, BC to recharge my muse. The hardest part is sticking to one novel with the pile of different colored composition books calling my name.
The second hardest part is trying to put the story back together after I've written it. Since lot of the free writing also ends up in the final product, acting as the springboard for a scene, or a chapter, sometimes for the whole novel, the story itself is often written out of order. There is a method to this madness and I do end up with a complete draft. It just has to be put in order when it is done. Of the three novels I have completed so far, The Forbidden Voyage experienced the least of this. While I wrote a whole second part, a prologue, and an epilogue that were removed and saved for the second book, for the most part Left Behind Book One was written in a much more linear manner than my other two books. While a few switcheroos were definitely needed it's not like the beginning and ending chapters flopped around and traded places over and over.
Maybe this means I'm growing as a writer? Maybe, but more likely it just reflects the different genres. A middle grade dystopian sci fi is certainly easier to write from beginning to end than a fictional treatise on mental illness or a tragic comedy about suicide by hitman. Either way the organized mess that comes out of my process seems to work. Ultimately, however, that's for the reader to judge and I really want to hear what you think. From now until December 5th you can download Left Behind Book One: The Forbidden Voyage for FREE from Story Cartel. Happy reading!
R. Anne Polcastro
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About the Author
Riya Anne Polcastro wrote her first book when she was five years old. It was only twenty some words long, typed up by her kindergarten teacher, and bound with construction paper and yarn . . . but it was the beginning of a dream that would later eat at the grown up her until she finally gave in and let the stories pour out. She was born and mostly raised in the Pacific Northwest. When she wasn’t there, she was growing up on the other side of the Mexican border, which is why she learned to read and write in Spanish first (not that she can speak anything but English very well, and even that can be a challenge early in the morning). And while it was hard to love the wetness again after the desert, Polcastro still hails from the rain infested northwest where she lives with her two kids and their family dog. Find out more at her website and find her on Twitter @RAPolcastro