The Genesis of Loved Mars

damonIt’s been far too long since I’ve posted on this blog. That’s because sometimes life is a form of inertia that sucks up free time and kills the concept of a regular schedule.

I’m weeks away from releasing Loved Mars Hated The Food and thought I would reveal a little bit about the genesis of this quirky story. I’ve revealed some of the background before but it started in a creative writing class that I took over four years ago.

The course was on humour writing but I claimed to have been a science fiction writer. In each class we would write a short story based on the topic of the week. One week we were asked to write a story containing physical comedy. I decided to write story about the first Starbucks on Mars and the reaction of Martians to caffeine. After reading the story in class, several people asked if that was from the book I was writing. It was then that I admitted I wasn’t a science fiction writer but was working on a political satire. After class, the instructor, Terry Fallis, suggested I should consider making the story into a novel.

The seed was planted.

When I finished The Road Ahead, I had to decide on what my next novel would be. I finally decided I would do a spoof of the book/film The Martians complete with a stranded astronaut and too many potatoes. Instead of the botanist protagonist in the film, my main character, Dix Jenner would be a chef. But I needed more that just that, so I decided the story would also pay tribute to the 1960s TV show, My Favorite Martian but with a twist. Instead of a Martian stranded on Earth trying to adapt, I would have an Earthling stranded on Mars, struggling to fit in.

I decided I needed an antagonist so I came up with an orange-coloured Martian leader, Cheyhto who would be a narcissist, bully and tyrant. The fact that those traits might be similar to a politician here on Earth is pure coincidence [wink wink].

Those were the initial concepts that I used as I began to write. I had no plot outline and only a few other characters that I had decided on. There were Seepa and Bleeker, the Martian couple that discovered Dix and agreed to shelter him, and the nosy next door neighbour, Plinka. Along the way I decided to spoof spectator sports and developed an amusing Martian team sport called Sling.

At first, I was going to introduce a class war on Mars and eventually have Dix campaign to replace Cheyhto as the Martian Grand Leader. As I wrote, I decided this wasn’t going to be another political satire and dropped the idea of running for office. But there remains an underlying tension between Martian classes because it worked so well with the character arc I was thinking about. Of course, my original short story about the first Starbucks on Mars eventually got worked into the second half of the book.

I couldn’t decide how to end the book. As I wrote, I had narrowed it down to three possible endings. It wasn’t until the final several chapters that I finally decided on what would the most appropriate ending to this story.

My favorite character wasn’t included in the book until after I had completed the first draft. I often wake up in the morning with some of my best story ideas. On one such morning, I thought the book needed a bot. So, I went back and added Sementric 3 (Todd), an advanced robot with advanced artificial intelligence who was slightly neurotic, very annoying and extremely sarcastic. He turns out to be my favourite character.

I hope you decide to pick up the book. It was a real treat to write and it should be a fun read.

 

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