I never intended to write a novel.  Scylla and Charybdis was supposed to be a short story.  In hindsight, I’d never written a “real” science fiction novel before:  I’d dabbled in it, but they were all terrible, straight up fantasy-in-space, or both, written when I was too green a writer to know better.  (There’s a particularly entertaining project, unfinished – two chapters, maybe? – entitled “The Universe Is On Fire!” which featured an alien race I can only describe as fire elementals.  This whole idea came about because of writing advice to be sparing with exclamation points:  one should only use multiples when “the universe is on fire.”  This is a pretty good example of how my head works, I just have a much better filter from idea to execution now.  I hope.)

Back to Scylla and Charybdis.  At the time, I knew my limits.  I figured I could “fake” science fiction for the duration of a short story, but no longer.  So I wrote it up, got it extensively critiqued, revised, was highly satisfied with the end product … and I couldn’t sell it.  Multiple editors were very complimentary, but they all said the same thing:  it read like the beginning of a novel.  This was several years ago; now I have a lot more resources for markets, and I might have found a place for it.  Maybe it’s for the best that I didn’t, because I don’t think I would have considered expanding it had I sold the short story.

So I trunked the story.  It was a few years later, when pondering what my next novel project might be, that the idea resurfaced.  I hesitated:  I knew hard sciences weren’t my forte, and as much research as I could do, I was afraid of making invisible mistakes – assumptions that I wouldn’t even think to look up.  But I still really enjoyed the idea and the characters.  I ended up deciding to solve my science problems by defining as much of the technical specs of the setting as I could.  Knowing star strengths, orbits, lightspeed calculations, etc, helped me to avoid making dumb assumptions.

Of course, I also had to come up with an answer for the question that was the end of the short story:  which route would Anaea take?  I had initially envisioned that the short story would only be a small portion of the novel, but as I re-explored the opening events, I realized I needed more development and conflicted.  It ended up being much more pivotal than I had anticipated, taking up the first quarter (roughly) of the book.

And then I was in uncharted territory, plotting a new course …

Scylla and Charybdis releases April 15th!