Those of you who have read my short story collections know I always include a section “about the stories.” These are snippets that tell about when the idea came to me, how it was developed, and when it was published. Although I know many readers don’t give a hoot about such things, I’ve always enjoyed reading about stories in this way. My novels, however, don’t have this sort of thing so I thought I’d put some of this up on my blog. Perhaps I’ll have no readers for it, but what the hey, that’s why they call it a personal blog, I guess. Anyway, here’s a bit about the way Swords of Talera came about.
Swords of Talera was my second novel. The first was a western written when I was 17 and it will never see print. Because of events that happened around the time I finished that western, which I wrote about in Write With Fire, I decided writing was not in my future and just gave it up. I couldn’t stay away, though. Seven years after the western, I was in graduate school. Sometimes late at night when I’d finished my research work but couldn’t sleep I would type out sentences and paragraphs of fiction on the computer. By this time I’d read a lot of fantasy fiction, in particular a lot of ERB and REH. The John Carter stories of ERB particularly resonated with me. I’d been making up Sword and Planet type stories for my own amusement for years, and then just said, what the heck, why not write one of them down. I figured it would probably just be for myself, although the thought that it might get published was always in the back of my mind.
I didn’t start the writing immediately, though. First I spent quite a bit of time in the University of Arkansas library doing research. I already had the idea for the world of Talera, but I needed a character. I decided he would be a descendent of a Maclang, the characters from my western. I looked through a bunch of Irish and Scottish names and found the name Ruane. That didn’t sound quite perfect to me, though, so I modified it to Ruenn. I also did a lot of research on sailing vessels, on gas giant planets, and on all manner of creatures and plants that might be twisted around to form the basis of Talera’s biosphere. Only then did I sit down to write.
In fiction, ERB’s Barsoom books were certainly the biggest and earliest influence on Talera, but another major influence was the Dray Prescot books of Alan Burt Akers, who I didn’t know at the time was really a British author named Ken Bulmer. Still other influences included the Llarn books of Gardner Fox, and the early books in the Gor series by John Norman. Although I never liked the slavery aspects of the Gor books, that didn’t figure at all prominently in the first few books and Norman had a dramatic writing style that I did like.
“Swords,” which was originally entitled “Taleran Genesis,” is a linear book full of all the things I loved to read, and still would love if anyone was publishing them. It had alien characters, lots of action, sword fights and desperate rescues. I wrote “Swords” in about 4 months in 1984, although it wasn't submitted for years and was heavily polished in 1988 before I submitted it. Eventually I sent it to Tom and Ginger Johnson in Texas and it was serialized in their magazine. It was very well received by the readers and was voted best piece of original fiction for the year in which it ran. Below are the notes I kept during the initial process of writing the book:
Taleran Genesis? (Book One) [begun June 15, 84] [1st draft fin [Christmas, 1984]
(Retitled, 6-7-85 Swords of Talera [3rd draft fin, 6-11-85]
[4th draft started 5-29-88; finished 6-20-88]
Final draft start 7-12-88, fin 7-29-88; printed 8-1-88:
final polish 9-29-88 Did a minor rewrite 6-30-96 and reformat
starting 3-3-02, doing a final rewrite to bring it up a notch
Went through it one more time in 2004, again trying to bring it up a notch.
The book was finally published as a paperback from Borgo press in summer 2007. It was mildly revised one last time before it was submitted for publication.
And there you have it. If you should have a hankering for such a book, it’s available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Wildside Press. It’s in print, ebook, and audiobook, along with the sequels, Wings Over Talera and Witch of Talera. There are clickable links to Amazon for the books along my right side border of the blog.