The Story Within The Story Within Me
Every story has a story. A place where the ideas begin. This is the story of my upcoming new release, Peyton's Doll.
At this point in my writing career I'm known mostly for writing erotic romance stories. So it may come as a shock to some readers that this story is science fiction--very steamy science fiction--but science fiction just the same.
"Where did that come from, Kate?" you ask.
Well, you see, and here's a big confession, science fiction is my first love.
I never set out to be an erotic romance author. I didn't think I had that kind of heat in me. Much in the same way that I never thought I could self-publish my books, or be a small business entrepeneur, but here I am just the same, and quite happy for it. Isn't it nice when we surprise ourselves?
In my house, while I was growing up, romance wasn't allowed. The stories that were deemed acceptable were written by authors such as Asimov, Le Guin, McCaffery, Bova, Herbert, Adams and one of my all time favorite authors, Mr. Philip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, aka Blade Runner)
I saw the original Star Wars when it came out in theaters (I was 6).
Luke Skywalker was my first crush.
I visited planets on TV with Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk.
I wanted a pet Tribble.
I wanted to be an astronaut and a biologist, an exciting adventurer who got to explore new worlds. But I've always been tempted by the steamy side of imagination, and, even when I got lost in those distant worlds in books, I enjoyed it most when the characters got lost, too, and ended up finding love.
I read my first romance novel when I was 25.
That's 25 years old, people. That's a long time to live without that kind of literary heat in your life. The book in question came to me as a gift from my (then future) husband's grandfather. It was Julie Garwood's Ransom. It was a book that changed my life, and we can all thank Poppa Stewart and Julie for setting me on my current path of being a writer. Because when I read Julie's books, (and after Ransom, I proceeded to devour them all) something clicked into place inside of me and the author, the dreamer, the sleeper was awakened. (you didn't really think you could escape a blog post like this without a quote from Dune, did you?)
Fast forward a few years, during which time I put my writing aspirations on hold while I dabbled with an animation career, got married and embarked on the most terrifying and rewarding journey of my life--becoming a mother. But always during that time, especially during the 3 am feedings, my mind would wander the distant planets of my dreams and imagine what sexy things characters could get up to.
At some point, nearly ten years ago, I put pen to paper. It was more of an act of desperation than a conscious desire to actually write a book. But at the encouragement of my husband (yes, the same guy whose grandfather gave me that first romance novel as a Christmas gift so many years before) I joined a critique group online where I met some of the best friends a person can ever have, and learned an important thing or two about the writing world. The first being that first drafts are hideous monsters which need lots of hard work to tame. The second being that science fiction romance is a "thing".
Imagine my excitement to learn that not only are there lots of writers out there just like me who enjoy steamy sex in their science fiction novels, but that there are a lot of readers who like it too. I immediately put everything else aside and began a story about a desperate future Earth, where humanity needed to overcome its inherent fallacy of mistrust in order to survive. With a hero named Peyton who was a bit of an ass, and a heroine who was an android but more 'human' than anyone else in the world. "Oh, this is going to be so good," I thought, and entered the first few chapters in a contest.
It didn't win.
It was too technical. Too much science and not enough romance. So, after wiping myself off the floor, I promptly rewrote the first chapter...and then stopped. I got stuck. I couldn't figure out how to fix the connection between the science and the fiction and the romance. My mind was telling me one thing, my heart another, and I didn't know where to turn for answers. And that was when life threw me one of those life changing things it likes to throw at people every once in a while.
I got sick.
Fast forward through the years where I learned to live my life despite chronice illness shackling me, where Peyton's Doll gathered dust, and I concentrated on learning to write romance and how to self-publish (because that was now a 'thing' too, and the only way I could see to fit deadlines into my life between the trifecta of a fulltime job, illness, and family). Three steamy books later, my mind once again turned to Dr. Peyton Chase and his sexy android lover and what the heck I was supposed to do about them? They'd been waiting 8 years for me to get them their happily-ever-after ending.
I cringed when I opened up that dusty manuscript. 8 years is a long time for a book to be sitting, during which time I'd changed, my writing style had changed, the romance market had changed. Was anything in it salvagable?
Reading it through, I fell in love with Peyton all over again. Sure it needed a bit of work in places, but the root story still made me smile and the best thing? I finally knew how to fix that awkward, awful beginning and pull all the disparate pieces toghether in a way that made sense for both romance and science fiction.
Peyton's Doll is a story about a journey, for me as much as the the characters. It's about fighting against despair. It's about never giving up and embracing that tiny gold nugget of optimism that lives inside all of us, even in the darkest hour. It's about finding love inside and outside of ourselves and accepting who we truly are.
I hope you will enjoy the first installment, coming this January.