June 6, 2020

Tim Kaiver

Swallowing time and finding a new prize.

My first LitRPG novel, Cipher’s Quest has hit a setback. It was rejected in a submissions queue, and I’m taking a break to write in a new series. The hope is this will give me space to think if I’ll change anything or publish. A wise man suggested I give the rejection a good listen, and I am, so for now I’m not rushing anything. Cipher’s Quest has a lighter LitRPG system than subsequent books, so there is a question of whether enough readers will like it.

I’m six chapters in on my new series I’m lovingly calling Dune Australia. On one hand, Dune, because I want to evoke the wonder of an unsuspecting youth discovering a war greater and closer to his life than he thought possible. On the other hand, Australia, because at twenty, I flew to Australia to live for a semester in one of the most beautiful places I’ve known. I remember the feeling of leaving, excited to find adventure and freedom, and maybe a little terrified, but mostly just excited and ignorant. My main character is on a similar trip, but his world is much different. It’s Earth, but it’s thirty years after a global pandemic radically changed society and governments, including vast divisions and civil wars that split the U.S. into three, with one part becoming a monarchy.

Australia is also now a self-ruling monarchy and allied with the U.S. This would be more exciting to read in the prose, but I post about it here because, while it feels a bit on the nose, I’m writing this book like most fantasy and sci-fi authors, where we envision future ramifications and amazing new worlds to play in. I don’t know what other book this would be like. Dune is an inspiration, and I am plotting toward the space opera feel even though it takes place on earth. Is Dune science fiction, fantasy, or both? The spice is fantasy, but the worlds and civilizations are science fiction. I’m kind of going in that direction with my own “spice”.

In my free time I’m reading How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy, by Orson Scott Card, again, and right at the front Orson talks about boundaries in publishing as an author chooses a genre. A publisher and editor might read something and say it doesn’t fit in the genre. I’ve made this mistake recently, but I’m also feeling out how stories build within my mind, and I honestly don’t know at this point what the answer is. Mikael’s Island is the tentative title, and I’m trying to hit a cross between Dune and Lost, but not too post-apocalyptic to be classified as horror. If you’ve read this far and would like to read the first four chapters, let me know. This is not LitRPG. I need a break from that so I can reassess my other series with fresh eyes down the road.