Scott Thine joins us again to talk about world building in Sirius Academy, his latest book. Be sure to check out his blog and his book! I also want to take the time to apologize for the lack of updates. Family stuff plus a tiny itty bitty hurricane called Sandy really messed up my schedule (and my car)!
The Making of Sirius Academy
For the sequel to my most popular Science Fiction book, Jezebel’s Ladder, I decided to focus on Jezebel’s daughter Miracle. Both are on the top 100 high tech list now. In this story, a UN astronaut academy, Sirius, is formed in the South Seas in order to build a team to reach the alien space artifact Jez discovered in book one. Miracle, talented in her own right, goes into the program undercover, underaged, and under the height requirement. She makes up the short fall in attitude and determination.
As the author, this presented a challenge for me in world building. I had to design:
+ Details about how alien mental talents worked and interacted
+ A brutal curriculum for the world’s best astronauts
+ A collection of varied talents from all over the world to be students
+ A set of exceptional instructors and sponsors, some of whom have their own agendas
+ Architecture for the academy not only must resemble the moon base but can move at sea
+ Security protocols to protect against terrorists who weren’t included in the mission
I started with the academy because that was where I’d be spending four months of my life. I had to know it as well as my own colleges. I wanted the center to look like a cathedral of glass. Here’s what the sketch of the island looked like:
Then I drilled down on details for the women’s metapod where most of the action takes place:
Once the core was established, I developed the foils for my main character: a female talent who is just like her but without morals, and a slightly older man who is normal but smart and trustworthy. During my vacation that year, sitting on the deck of a cruise ship, I hand wrote 109 pages of the novel. I had a great time listening to these friends rib each other and save each others’ lives and careers. My favorite scene is where Mira makes an offhanded comment to someone and she sticks them with a new nickname for life—Taz. Then I had to weave actual islands and real-world weather/ecology into my setting to add authenticity.
Once I could see every detail of the setting and characters, I had to put something on the cover that would help the reader enter this world. I started with the pods. I pulled futuristic photos from the Spanish City of the Arts as the core, and then I built from there, adding: tropical waters, a space ship, whales, and a young woman resembling Jezebel working an advanced computer interface. My cover artist enhanced the photo with neural monitors and other touches.
Air Force brat and techno-gypsy, Scott Rhine wanted to find a job that combined his love of reading with math problem solving. He studied both short stories and computer languages. A couple of degrees, patents, and children later, at forty-eight, he still didn't know what he wanted to be when he grew up. When his third publication "Doors to Eternity" unexpectedly hit #16 on the Amazon epic fantasy list, he decided to retire from engineering in order to write full-time. Humor is a part of every story he does because people are funny, even when they don't think so. In the real world, something always goes wrong and people have flaws. If you can't laugh at yourself, someone is probably doing it for you. Strong female characters also play a major role in his stories because he's married to a beautiful PhD who can edit, break boards, and use a chainsaw.