My novel for NaNoWriMo 2018

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Next month is NaNoWriMo and I have an idea for a novel.  I’ve had this idea since NaNoWriMo 2017 and have been running through different storylines in my head for almost a year. I’m keen to do NaNoWriMo again this year, despite the lack of time I have available and how overworked I am.

I set myself one deadline in order to be able to participate; I want to finish editing the first draft of last year’s novel before I start the next one. I have 30,000 words left to edit, and about 3 weeks to do so.

My goal this year is 2000 words a day (I averaged 1700 words a day last year). My novel, which I’ve optimistically already registered, is called …but Anna Sparks is dead? Here’s a rough synopsis:

Anna Sparks is no ordinary human. She was the first human to encounter life in space, and it terrified her. After seeing how this alien technology has destroyed and corrupted other civilisations, Anna vows to stop people on earth from ever getting their hands on it. But Anna cannot be trusted. Anna embodies the very technology she’s protecting everyone from. Some people call them superpowers, but her ability to control the things around her is a technological enhancement she gained during the last great intergalactic war, a war she tried to stop and couldn’t. Now she battles to keep the fighting away from her home. But Anna Sparks dies, and everyone sees it. So when earth is invaded, how is she the one who tries to save it?

This novel obviously has a lot more science fiction elements than The Black Swan Experiments, which is the novel that inspired me to start this blog. My original plan for this novel was to have Anna as the sidekick to a male who was the first human to encounter life in space.

If I’m honest, it was watching Doctor Who that make me question why Anna had to be the love interest. I realised I had no good reason for keeping her as the love interest to a male character, especially when all of the action revolves around her choices.

Another big inspiration for this novel was Captain Cook. I was in Newcastle recently for the National Young Writers’ Festival, and, at the foot of the public library, were stairs commemorating the bicentenary of his exploration, charting and claiming of the east coast of Australia. It made me think a lot about colonisation (how is there a statue that commemorates the slaughter and takeover of a whole race of people?!), and I really want this to be a big part of my novel.

My intention is for the alien race to act as the coloniser, with them having technology that we, the colonised, cannot possibly compete against. I’ve been very careful in planning how this is narrated, as I don’t want to talk outside of my experience or create something that could be insensitive. I can’t explain that in more detail right now though, because I’d giving away a huge twist in the book.

While there are a lot of science fiction novels which explore colonisation already (with War of the Worlds being one of the more notable examples), I want to explore it in a slightly different way.

In every war there’s a side who doesn’t win. What would a novel be like if you followed the same characters the whole way through, thinking you were on the winning side, only to reach the end and realise you were wrong?

I want the final chapters of this book to be written from the antagonist’s perspective, and I want the antagonist to be the winner of the war. It’s someone else’s voice. Someone else’s story. Maybe it’s told through newspaper clippings and found documents. Maybe it’s first person narration. What matters is that the narrative everyone in the story world comes to remember, the way history gets written in the world of the book, is completely different to everything you’ve just been told by the previous narrator.

That isn’t to say that the previous narrator was unreliable; what they told you was their experience of the war. They just aren’t in a position of power to have that experience acknowledged. History is written by the side that wins, and it’s the winner’s story that concludes the book.

Anyway, I’ll leave it at that for now. I’ll be exploring colonisation in fiction in more detail (with references!) in later blog posts. In the mean time, watch this space for updates on my NaNoWriMo preparation and progress. I also have an author Q and A with the Laundry Man (AKA Jakob Boyd) coming your way soon. I’ll be interviewing some fantastic guests over the next few months, so make sure to visit often.

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