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The Story of My Next Book

It's such a struggle

This is not a history of books in general, but the story of how my latest science fiction novel Planet Downfall came about, and my book problems.

I don’t remember where the idea came from, but I planned it out and wrote it for NaNoWriMo several years ago. Then it was called Planetfall, but I found out that means landing, not falling apart, so I changed it. As usual with NaNoWriMo, I only wrote 30,000 words, even though I got to the end of the story. And there it sat until I got the third Flight of the Kestrel novel published and decided this would be the fourth.
Kestrel spaceship
With each of my science fiction novels I’ve had to do a lot of work after I finished the first draft, but this one has been a nightmare. Am I losing my touch? Have I run out of ideas? I don’t think so. I hope not. But this story is really giving me book problems.

First problem: five different locations! On board the spaceship Kestrel, on board the Ochran mining spaceship Ajalom, the science survey team on planet Arcadia, the landing party from Kestrel, the miners from Ajalom who have been smuggled down on Arcadia. Spending time with each of the groups, it can be hard to keep them in sync.
Man writing
Second problem: asteroid impacts, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis. How long does it take for the effects to work their way round the planet? The ships in orbit quite quickly lose contact with those on the planet, because of the debris in the air, but I don’t describe the conditions on the planet quite so soon.

Third problem: common to all my novels, I don’t put enough description in. The people may be having an animated conversation, but the reader has no idea where they are or what they’re doing. The group set off across the country but there’s not enough description of the terrain and surroundings.
These book problems all have to be addressed at each point in the manuscript, but there are some general points that have to be addressed all over the place. Things like Captain Darrow being more commanding and some of the scientists being more professional.

My editor also thinks there are two days on board Kestrel but three days on the planet. So much to check! I had hoped to publish before Christmas, but it’s now February and I’m not even nearly done. Sorry fans, but it’s got to be right.

Head shot Ann Marie ThomasAnn Marie Thomas is the author of five medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel, Intruders, Alien Secrets & Crisis of Conscience are out now Follow her at