The idea for a new series written inside an existing sci-fi universe was born on a gorgeous summer afternoon in August of 2006. I was sitting under the umbrella of our deck table thumbing through The Genesis Equation by Kenneth Tam. This fifth book in his Equations series was published the previous month. I was ruminating on the Equations universe that Kenneth had created while still a high school student. I loved the series and was quite taken with his Earthers, as well as his human characters.
On this particular afternoon I was awaiting the arrival of my friend Kenneth, who wished to discuss one of the early drafts of A Personal Journey to the Heart of Teaching, which I was writing for his family’s company – Iceberg Publishing. That day, however, I was preoccupied by questions about the Equations universe.
We both enjoyed these visits and we still do despite the fact that I’m no longer an Iceberg author. Now Kenneth characterizes our meetings as “publisher summits”! Eight years ago, I think it is fair to say that Kenneth and I recognized that despite our age difference, we were kindred spirits as writers and Trekkies. So our visits were, and still are, very animated and intellectually stimulating.
This particular day’s meeting began with a discussion about the edited draft of Journey that Kenneth had brought with him. There were revisions and rewrites necessary, as well as requests for additional material that would turn into new chapters. We were excited by the project, so the discussion was lively and constructive.
When that business concluded I asked Kenneth if we could discuss The Genesis Equation. He grinned, “Did you like it?” I assured him that I thoroughly enjoyed the story, but I had some questions that were bothering me. Without saying anything, he gestured that I should continue. Hoping that I wouldn’t upset him, I asked why he had left a gap of forty years between books four and five. It was peacetime on Genesis, he explained, so he picked up the story at the point where a new conflict was starting.
“But what about Pat and Sarah?” I shot back. “Book four ends with the Genesis Navy returning home from the Krogg War. Pat and Sarah had decided to marry and they had an engagement party onboard the flagship of the fleet. Then I pick up Book five and discover that they had been married for forty years, and Genesis was such a different place after that period of time! Good Grief!”
Kenneth shrugged, “All true. But for me the next big development was the return of Omega.”
“Oh,” was my immediate response, before I tried once more. “I’m sure the marriages of Pat and Sarah, and of Graham and Gillian would have been terrific stories… And I’ll bet the Earther Navy brass would have showed up for that! Now that would have been exciting for the main characters as well as for the people of Genesis.”
Kenneth nodded, but didn’t interrupt. So I continued my diatribe.
“And how did the democratic government on Genesis come about from a Church dictatorship? That must have been a fascinating process to behold! When did an Earther embassy get established on Genesis? How did that go over with the Churchers who weren’t happy about the wartime alliance with them? There’s so much to explain!”
I stopped and studied my friend carefully to see if I had offended him. On the contrary, he seemed amused – and interested. Finally he leaned forward in his chair: “So… why don’t you write those stories?”
I was aghast, instantly thinking: He can’t be serious, I’ve never written fiction in my life.
When I actually voiced those thoughts, he pointed out that I had never written an autobiographical account of my teaching career before, either. Kenneth was enjoying turning the tables on me. It was clear I had never expected that kind of response.
We sat in thoughtful silence for a few minutes, sipping our drinks, before I spoke up again: “Two questions: first, are you serious about me writing inside your series, and second, do you honestly think I can pull it off?”
“Yes, and definitely yes,” he replied without delay. “Writing fiction is different than writing non-fiction, but you can learn. We’ll help you.”
His eyes were earnest and confident. I looked down at my drink, picked up my copy of The Genesis Equation, and made my decision. I told him I’d start the project as soon as Journey was ready for publication.
I had no idea what I would call the series that sunny afternoon in August, 2006, nor did I have any idea how many books there might be. But I had a universe that was already created, and I had a beginning and end point. For the next eight years my mind churned away happily dreaming up plots and sub-plots – new characters and a more detailed Genesis society. This fall, those stories will begin to told, as The Genesis Saga.