Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Greetings from Earth


“All his life has he looked away. . .to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. What he was doing.”   - Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back

Not sure if this holds true for Luke Skywalker, but, in my case, truer words have never been spoken.

I have always dreamed of going to the stars. I remember helping my father in the garage one chilly March night in 1978, having only recently seen the original Star Wars for the first time. It was a clear night and the moon was very full. It was then that I realized there was more to life than just this tiny rock we lived on called Earth. Heavy thoughts for a seven year old.

I have not looked down since.

I became obsessed with space, and anything to do with the subject. I would watch every space shuttle launch and landing. I watched every hokey sci-fi show that came out in the 70’s and 80's(Anyone else remember Jason of Star Command?) and devoured many a novel or comic book on the subject. I wanted to be Luke Skywalker, or Buck Rogers, or Battlestar Galactica’s Starbuck. My friend Dave and I would play space cowboys every Saturday afternoon.

Then, when I was twelve years old, the writing bug bit me.

Or, at least, the slightly unoriginal, highly plagiaristic writing bug.

My first short story was a twelve page, hand written epic called Space War 3000. Its first five pages were my own creation, the last eight of which I copied almost word for word out of the novelization for Return of the Jedi, merely changing appropriate names here and there to make the story my own.

James Kahn, the novelization’s author, had nothing to fear from me.

Nevertheless, I continued to hone my skills as a writer. High School saw me wiling away many a study hall session creating worlds and mapping out galactic battles, when I should have been doing homework or studying.

I was sixteen years old when I first met the crew of the Starhawk.

This one, a long time have I watched.” - Yoda

The Starhawk Chronicles is a tale years in the making. April 17, 1987 is the official birthdate, if fictional characters can be considered born.  The idea came about while waiting on a particularly long line at Disneyland. We had just come from seeing the Michael Jackson 3-D movie Captain EO. I loved the idea of a bunch space-faring misfits that come out on top. Over the next weeks and months, the crew of the Starhawk began to take definite form. They would be a group of down-on-their-luck space pirates, constantly in trouble, and just as constantly getting out of trouble by story’s end. The final, final draft of the manuscript weighed in at over 250 pages—quite an accomplishment for someone still in high school. Over the next few years I would teak away at it until I had it just right. Then I threw the whole thing out.

Looking back, the story about a group of down-on-their-luck space pirates who accidentally end up on Earth and wind up with a teenage stowaway who will eventually take over as captain was just a bit too much like the 1984 film The Last Starfighter (A personal favorite of mine.). I decided to make the crew rougher, the story a bit darker, and ditch a character that I could only loosely call a heroine. Oh yeah, and make them bounty hunters, not pirates.

I have been fascinated with bounty hunters since Boba Fett first appeared in the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special (NERD ALERT! Yes, I own a copy.)and the 1980 Steve McQueeen film The Hunter. This profession seemed a natural fit for the crew of the Starhawk. Most of the characters and personalities stayed true to their original incarnations, Jesse Forster became the troubled leader of the crew, Rahk Garrakis and the Nexus Gang, planned antagonists for the sequel to the original Starhawk tale, became the villains, and Kayla Karson is introduced as Jesse’s rival, sidekick, and potential romantic interest. (I have to admit, Kayla is so much fun to write, I have a series of solo books planned for her as well.)

So, the novel is done, edited, re-edited, tweaked, pinched and so-forth. I begin submitting to agents and publishers . . . and hit a brick wall.

Everywhere I tried, I was told “We like your concept, but it doesn’t fit what we’re looking for at this time.” Translation: Since your novel does not include whatever happens to be popular at this moment (Sparkly vampires, etc.), we are afraid to take a chance on it.

I thought about self-publishing years ago, but then it was considered a vanity thing. “Not good enough for an agent? Self-publish to feel better about yourself.” The times have changed. With the advent e-books and self-publishing houses like Outskirts Press and Createspace, those of us who have something to say can now be heard, whether the traditional publishing world wants to hear us or not.

That being said, The Starhawk Chronicles is due to be released in a few weeks. If you’re looking for something along the lines of Azimov, Bradbury, or Clarke, then I suggest you hit your local library or bookstore and pick up a copy of Azimov, Bradbury, or Clarke. While it would be an honor to be included among those great writers, I don’t see it happening. They used science fiction to explore and comment on the human condition. I’m just writing to have fun. My writing, and the aforementioned influences behind it, has, admittedly, a certain cheese aspect to it, but what can I say? I am a child of the 80’s. I'm guessing that those out there with a nostalgic attitude probably share my POV.

That’s all I have for now, fellow space travelers. Keep watching this blog for more on the release of The Starhawk Chronicles, the influences behind it, future projects, and other random stuff I may post just for the fun of it!

Regards,


Joe

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