I have always liked the raw elemental nature of deserts. In New Zealand we have little in the way of desert. There are some wonderful dune fields way up north (I even considered working with a photograph I’d taken earlier this year for the new cover – left that in favour of Joshua Woroniecki’s wonderful illustration – see below), and there is the Rangipo desert, though this is a high-plateau area, most of which is army reserve, so not accessible to the public. Nor is it anything like that classic endless dune sea that you might think of when you imagine the Sahara, nor wide open hot lands as you would find in Australia, Chile and Peru, or even the Western U.S.
I have been lucky enough to travel to some of those places. The dry, hot wind whipping across a dune crest is something to experience.
I have written a few books and stories set in deserts – it’s fun to go play in these desolate places – both Raphael Marooned and Desert Creepers (part of the Captain Arlon Stoddard series) came out earlier this year. Set on distant worlds, where the rules of deserts may be a little different to here.
One thing I try to avoid with my SF worlds, is making a planet have all one environments. I have the feeling that there would be at least some variety. My new world, Tolesse, does have ice caps. It has some flora that thrives in tough ecosystems, closer to the the ice caps. But mostly, it’s desert. Bare rock. Sand. Barchan dunes. A few salt pans around, maybe. Certainly some local fauna. Oases with fruit palms. A culture of nomads, and feudal lords (I suppose) and some conflict (well, a fair bit of conflict).
I am looking forward to the movie Dune, coming out in October. I loved the first three Dune books. Transported to that wonderful place.
It may seem opportunistic to release this book so close to the movie’s release. For a moment I was even tempted to name it just “Erg”, but that would have been a little much, perhaps.
So, yes, why not put it out now. It’s ready, I think it’s a fun read (at least, I had fun writing it), and it’s not Dune. There are no sandworms or stillsuits. No spice, nor anything like the Bene Gesserit. There is technology, though it’s unequally distributed. There are ancient ruins and a megalomanic ruler.
Here’s how I describe the book in the blurb:
Jessaline loves exploring the old hidden relics out on the erg. Tolesse has many secrets. A history dating back to the earliest times when humans first inhabited the planet.
But do humans belong?
A twisted tale of hidden destiny and people who will stop at nothing to get what they need.
Even from the innocent.
I think there’s space here for some more books too. I know some writers plan out their series and get the all neatly scheduled up (I do have thriller series coming out like that next year – with three and a half books written and the fifth in the back of my mind), but in general I tend to let my inner writing child just write whatever it feels like, and then I put things out.
Of course, I should write some more of those Captain Arlon Stoddard books. And some more of the Karnish River Navigation series. And there’s a sequel to Hunting Shellot around somewhere. So many things to write and only 168 hours in the week.
And I also need to tidy up this site to make it actually something vaguely close to up to date (sidebar, I’m looking at you). And I have a bunch of cover updates to do. I did manage to update the two Emily Jade thriller covers recently, making something that looks closer to professional, and more on point for genre. And I have to get that mailing list going. Did I mention that there are only 168 hours in the week?
Thanks for reading. Take care in these challenging times.