The inspiration to write a science fiction novel set on Mars didn’t come from a song, film or dream. I never intended on writing this book. I was going to write a story about post-Brexit Britain. I had even been researching different English dialects.
To be honest, LOVED MARS, HATED THE FOOD started out as a gag that spun into a novel.
It began in the spring of 2016. I had decided to take a creative writing course on humour at the University of Toronto. The course was taught by Terry Fallis, a multiple winner of the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour, one of the oldest literary awards in Canada. I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to learn from a great Canadian humourist.
On the first evening, Terry asked everyone to introduce themselves and describe their writing experience. People who know me well, will know that I’m rarely serious. It eventually got around to me. Umm, I must have made a mistake registering online,” I said with a deadpan face. “Maybe I reversed a couple of numbers. I’m supposed to be in a science fiction writing course.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” said the instructor. “You are welcome to stay.”
Of course there was no science fiction writing course. The university offers almost no genre specific courses.
“Well, I’m here so I guess I’ll stay and see if I can straighten this out before next week. Maybe I can give my aliens funny names I can make it a humourous sci-fi story,” I said, shrugging.
I participated throughout the evening. I even wrote a story about the types of Toronto drivers that Terry read to the class.
The next week I reappeared. Terry looked up and said, “Oh, you’re back.”
“Yeah, the science fiction course is full. I’m on a waiting list.”
For several weeks this continued. I wrote some hilarious stories in class, but no one caught on. Then one week we were to write a story that included physical comedy. I decided to write about the opening of the first Starbucks on Mars. in the story the Martians had an unusual reaction to caffeine.
I was asked to read it in front of the class. I got a great reaction. Then someone asked whether the story was from the novel I was working on.
I broke out in a big grin. “I’m not working on science fiction novel. I writing a political satire. I was just joking about the sci-fi stuff.” You should have seen the look on everyone’s face.
At the break, Terry came up to me. He thought the story was really funny and suggested that I consider turning it into a novel.
And there you have it. A novel was born. The short story I wrote for the class was incorporated into Chapter 23 of my novel.