The question that most writers get asked at some point is, “What inspired you to write your book?” In my case, there is the immediate trigger and the deeper answer. The immediate trigger for Sea of Dreams was Star Trek- The Next Generation. I was watching an episode one night and was struck by the fact that all the aliens that were in the particular episode were, despite their odd skin colours or the various types of facial ridges, decidedly human in their actions, thoughts and emotions. I got thinking about what would happen if we were to encounter something truly alien; that is, something for which we had no references for.
This was the seed out of which the book grew. As I started writing, the deeper inspirations started to fill out the story, expanding it from its initial insubstantial musing to a fully fledged book. Specifically, my twin interests in transformation and what I call ‘future history’ started to express themselves. I have always been interested in great transformations, both personal and social. The periods of history that attracted me the most were the periods where old orders broke down and new ones began to emerge: the Industrial Revolution, the inter-war years, early medieval Europe to name just a few examples.
I have always been interested in how the present will play out; the implications of our choices, or non-choices are. As I started writing Sea of Dreams, the idea of constructing a plausible future led me to try to work out the story’s past. The first draft became a background to the story. I wrote long sections describing how it was that social order the characters find themselves in came to be. In addition, earlier stories began to suggest themselves. Characters whose existence are only briefly hinted at began to develop their own stories in parallel.
In the end, the book’s origin is a life time’s worth of creating and exploration. Seeds of its style, themes and concerns appear throughout everything that I have written over the years: short stories, poetry, non-fiction and academic articles. But this is a subject for whole series of other posts.