The story behind the story. How I came to write Duty and Defiance.

For my first blog, I thought It might be interesting to tell you the story behind my new sci-fi book, Duty and Defiance. I have always been a huge science fiction fan, as my library will attest. I have more sci-fi books than most respectable used bookstores, much to my wife’s chagrin. I also have always wanted to write sci-fi. I wrote my first “book” in Junior High. And I mean “in” Junior High as I was avoiding the ever-present bullies. In 7th and 8th grades, I was picked on pretty regularly. I had horrible buck teeth and was very much a nerd, which was most definitely not cool in those days. I also was very bored in my classes. So I took to writing – often during my classes – filling page after page in a loose-leaf notebook I carried around. At the time if you can believe it, Star Trek was in its first, original run. (Yes, I’m that old). And I was a huge fan. So my book, Galaxia, was inspired by it. The book was ongoing as I had a perpetual need to escape, so it was never completed. I think I still have it around somewhere, although I doubt even I can read the tiny scrawls that were my handwriting back then.

My next serious attempt at writing science fiction came in college, when I was fortunate enough to take a class in writing science fiction from renowned author James Gunn at the University of Kansas. It was a wonderful class.

However, I just never had time to write. There were so many things that were happening in my life, then and well into adulthood. Writing, which I saw as a pastime that would require a major part of my time, just never had a high enough priority – with work and then family.

About twenty years ago, I got inspired to write again. My kids were twelve and nine at the time. I thought it would be cool to write an “E.T.” inspired book where a brother and sister teamed up with an alien teenager to save the earth. The heroes were naturally nine and twelve, with the alien being thirteen. The title was “A.T.: Alien Teen.”

I fulfilled my dream of actually completing the novel, but never seriously tried to publish it. I sent It off to a few agents, quickly got discouraged and put it aside.

Five years later, I picked the book up again and decided to do an updated version. My kids were now seventeen and fourteen, so I updated the characters in the book, which was quite an effort because kids really, really change when they become teenagers and have these massive hormone attacks. Again, I finished it but was never really happy with it.

Skip ahead to four years ago. In October 2016 I received the news that permanently and dramatically changed my life. I was diagnosed with Stage IV Renal Transitional Cell Carcinoma. This is a really bad cancer that once it reaches stage IV has essentially a 0% five-year survival rate. It is also incurable and, in my case, inoperable. I was given about six months to live – if I was lucky. Going through something like that really changes your life – and your perspective of life. One way I had of coping was to document my thoughts, feelings, and experiences. This would eventually become my first published book, Mortal Musings: Awaiting Dawn. Miraculously, and thanks to the efforts of my Doctor and staff at Emory, my cancer disappeared – completely.

However, the experience made me reevaluate my priorities in life. And writing was one of the things I always wanted to do. So I decided to take the plunge in a major way. Changing my career from something that had always paid the bills to one where it likely never will.

One of my first projects was to take the book I had written such a long time ago and completely rewrite it. The theme and characters remained the same as did much of the plot elements, but almost every word and sentence changed. That rewrite became Duty and Defiance. It is the first of a series of books I hope to write called The Zanchee Chronicles which will develop the characters further. I hope you enjoy it.

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