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Monday, June 8, 2015

Guest post by Alex J. Cavanaugh: where can story ideas take you?


Today my guest is Alex J. Cavanaugh, author of the bestselling space opera CassaStorm and founder of the Insecure Writer Support Group, a community of writers that "meets" in the blogosphere every first Wednesday of the month.

It’s amazing where one book can take you.

The idea for my first book, CassaStar, came to me when I was a teen. Inspired by Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, Buck Rogers, and the like, I started thinking of adventures for my main character. I even wrote a short but full manuscript. It was awful and sat in a drawer for almost thirty years.

When I rewrote it and eventually landed a publisher, I intended it to be the only one. Fans wanted more and my publisher asked if I could continue the series. The second, CassaFire, came from a short story, but I had to plot CassaStorm from scratch. The main character and the Cassa universe were both established though, which made writing the sequels a little easier.

After CassaStorm’s release, I knew the series was complete. I also wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue writing. Music is my passion and I wanted to explore that further.

Not long after the third book’s release, a song reminded me of an idea I’d had years ago. Ayreon’s Dragon on the Sea is about Sir Francis Drake, but from the first time I heard the song, I’d always pictured a dragon space ship in battle.

Now, unlike most writers, I don’t have tons of ideas in my head. I’m lucky to have one good one hit me at a time. So when this one resurfaced, I took it as a sign that I had to write it.

I decided this story needed to take place outside of the Cassa universe. That meant world-building from scratch. Joy!

Once I had a basic outline, I started researching and creating the planet of Hyrath – geography, commerce, politics, etc. A little investigation revealed that sea kelp could fulfill the role of food, drug, and power source, and that filled several slots and kept things simple. I also needed to make the Kargrandes (see the site What Are the Kargrandes? http://whatarethekargrandes.com/ for clues) very tough creatures, and discovered the real life Tardigrade provided many of the answers. There were other details, such as distances and space travel speeds, that required a bit of math work. (And I’m not great with math.)

While it was difficult to set up a new universe and design new characters, exploring the story through fresh eyes was fun. Once I had the initial rough draft finished, the characters really came to life. I’m as proud of Dragon of the Stars as I am my Cassa trilogy.

Where has one book or story idea taken you?

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design, graphics, and technical editing. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. He’s the author of Amazon Best-Sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, and CassaStorm.

Alex's latest book, Dragon of the Stars, published by Dancing Lemur Press, is available on Amazon, Barns and Nobles, Kobo and iTunes. For more information visit http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/

The ship of legends… 
The future is set for Lt. Commander Aden Pendar, son of a Hyrathian Duke. Poised to secure his own command and marriage to the queen’s daughter, he’ll stop at nothing to achieve his goals. 
But when the Alliance denies Hyrath’s claim on the planet of Kavil and declares war on their world, Aden finds his plans in disarray. Entrenched in battle and told he won’t make captain, Aden’s world begins to collapse. How will he salvage his career and future during Hyrath’s darkest hour? 
One chance remains–the Dragon. Lost many years prior, the legendary ship’s unique weapon is Hyrath’s only hope. Can Aden find the Dragon, save his people, and prove he’s capable of commanding his own ship?


32 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks so much Alex, congratulations on all your success!

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  2. Nice to see Alex here. It is always interesting to see where the book ideas originate. Thanks for hosting him today!

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  3. Very interesting. You never know where that spark of inspiration comes from. Sometimes, it takes 30 years or longer for it to come to fruition.

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    1. Just glad there hasn't been a thirty year lag in between books!

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  4. Interesting spark. Look where it took you. Congrats!

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  5. As you said on my blog, Alex, it's nice to meet another write who hadn't meant to be one. Everyone else talks about writing all their lives and you and I are at this little table by ourselves amazed we got here.

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    1. Patricia, it's rather amazing, isn't it? I used to feel bad. So many who are dying to be an author and here I rather stumbled into it. But we both have stories to tell and should tell them.

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  6. Your worlds are really different, Alex. And Dragon has so many different races and a unique society setup.

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  7. Thanks for hosting Alex today, EE. I'm glad he re-wrote the first Cassa story because I loved the whole series. It would've been a shame if it hadn't been born. It's amazing the things that inspire us. Have a great day. Eva

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  8. It's always interesting to discover where story ideas originated.
    And I'm always amazed at the world building involved in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. Really cool!
    Thanks EE and Alex!

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  9. Tardigrades! And I was trying to think of something among the cephalopod molluscs that inspired you, Alex. And here it was, a little waterbear! I didn't realize they were so tough. Thanks for hosting Alex, EE!

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    1. It was the little water bear! Tough little critters.

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  10. I enjoy reading how authors get their ideas. I have some ideas lingering from my teen years that I'd like to write about.

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    1. You should! You are a writing gold mine right now.

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  11. I always find it interesting to know where authors get their ideas for their novels! I'm amazed you let it sit 30 years! Mine usually tug at me so much, I have to just write it right away. Now it may take me years to finish, but anyway hahahah

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    1. Madilyn, writing wasn't a big passion when I was younger and other things came up in life that were more important. I'm just glad I did finally go back to that manuscript.

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  12. I did wonder where you got your idea from. :-D

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  13. I've always thought that the human imagination was the most amazing thing. I don't know if it is unique to us but what comes from it leaves a mark we should all be proud of. :-)

    Anna from Elements of Writing

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  14. It's cool knowing how Alex got the idea for his books. I know I get my ideas from anything and everything and love knowing what creates that spark for other writers.

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  15. It's always fun to find out how writers get their ideas. My story ideas have taken me to some amazing places, and my journey's far from over.

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  16. I love how focused Alex is. It's true that most writers have ideas coming out of their ears, but Alex seems to work with a few ideas that he makes into rich stories through a lot of thinking. Everyone has a different way, but his sure works. Great interview!

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    1. Thanks, Shell! I cling to those few ideas.

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  17. Champion in the Darkness was once "The Crystal Sword" and before that, "The Sword Choice" in short story format. I didn't expect to world-build the country of Septily, much less all of Aramatir. I'm still working on the nuances of various people groups . . . more details will come out with Champion's Destiny about the mysterious Watch Guard who may even get their own trilogy. I may or may not be working with the world of Aramatir for a while, but then I have other projects I'm interested in pursuing, too - most of which started with short stories gone wild. :)

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    1. Amazing how a story will take off and lead you places you didn't expect.

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  18. An idea has inspired me to write a whole series. I'm on the tenth book of it. You never know where the road will go with just an idea.

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  19. thank you all so much for the kind comments!

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