The Long Road to Epiphany

For me, the writing process begins long before I start drafting the novel. Usually, it starts with a new voice in my head, one too powerful to ignore. In the case of my upcoming book, Outlaw Justice, the first voice I ever heard was Loretta Ryder's.

A pretty woman looks to the left. She has long, reddish brown hair and strong yet femine features.

Loretta's “casting photo” from my writing journal. We all imagine fictional characters differently, but this is how I see her.

I remember it was November 2020, and this 'new voice' in my head wouldn't let me sleep. She was writing a letter to someone, thinking the words out loud. After a bit of grumbling, I crawled out of bed at 2am to write her words down.

When I was a child and too young to question what I'd been told, my second father told me that fate wasn't real. He was an arbiter, one of the respected few who resolve Martian conflict and administer Martian justice. On the day we first met I was a girl of thirteen and he was just another face in the hearing room, explaining why my parents were dead.

Only Marcus was wrong about fate. Sometimes she swoops down like a lacewing owl and pivots your life to one side. My love, I never could have predicted us. And if Fate turned me toward you, I can only thank her, no matter where I ended up. This dark place. This cell. There are three days left until my execution.

History is written by the victors, and after I'm gone they'll tell stories about who I was and what I did; how Marcus's adopted daughter became [Spoiler Redacted]...

Fate plucked me up the moment I [Spoiler Redacted]. And she carried me to you. My time may be ending, but my love for you is not.

Give my love to our friends?

I wasn't sure what this all meant! But I'd been thinking about writing a “Space Western” for some time, and it seemed to me that one of my heroines had arrived.

The Long Road to Epiphany 🚀

I was writing other books at the time, so Loretta's story had to wait. But as I let myself doodle and daydream around the margins of my other work, I learned more about her, her friends, and Martian settlement where she lives, named Epiphany.

Many evenings over the last few years, while Patrick and I relaxed after work, I doodled spaceships and a beautiful, golden-domed city on a desolate Martian landscape. When I closed my eyes, I sometimes I saw it all spread out before me like a photograph.

A doodle of a shuttlecraft with a long-stemmed flower on the hull.

One of the spaceships in my novel.

I'm no artist, but that's okay. 😊

Creativity isn't always linear; sometimes the pieces arrive out of order. A few months before I began writing Outlaw Justice, I realized that my first encounter with Loretta hadn't come from the start of her story. Her letter had come much later.

There was so much I needed to know! Where did Loretta's journey begin? How did she become a hero? A leader? Who was she writing a letter to? And what dangers would she and her friends face during humanity's early expansion into the universe?

Figuring out who Loretta was took me on one hell of an adventure this year! Yet Outlaw Justice is only the beginning of what I hope will become an epic story, and there's so much left to discover. For me, that's what makes this gig worth it, the not knowing and the pleasure of finding out. In that way, writing can be a lot like reading. It's just that I'm a bit further along the path, smoothing the way, marveling a little at voices that speak in the dark.

Every story has an understory, those scraps of inspiration and history and emotion that swirl up from a writer's life, mix in the subconscious, and become something unexpected. It's been a good ride, and I can't wait to share Outlaw Justice with you. 🥰

Available Now! Get your copy of Outlaw Justice

Book Cover for Outlaw Justice

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