[third of the MIC blogs]
My two first published novels were science fiction, Second Star and A Handful of Stars, about Star Svensdotter, an off-Earther building a habitat at Ellfive and a mining colony in the Asteroid Belt. I had a third novel planned for the series but I was exhausted from the research required to make nuts-and-bolts science fiction sound credible, so I decided to take a rest from sf by writing a crime novel.
It’s not as nuts as it sounds. I mean, it wasn’t like I was going to publish it or anything. It was just for practice, to keep my writing muscle exercised while I took some time off from the Star novels. I’d been reading a lot of crime fiction novels, Ellis Peters, P.D. James, Sue Grafton, Marcia Muller, Sara Paretsky, and I thought, “I wonder if I could write a crime novel.”
I set parameters. I couldn’t do any research, if I couldn’t find it between my own ears or in the Alaska Almanac Book of Facts I couldn’t use it. The Park is based on the Wrangell-St. Elias Park because I’d just been there, helping my aunt move down to Cordova. The heroine would be an Aleut because I was raised with Aleuts, and she was a woman because I am, too, and it’s always easier to write in the voice of your own gender.
In short, this was the lazy woman’s way to write a mystery.
I was housesitting for a friend on the Big Island at the time, and I wrote at a card table on his lanai. Five months later, I had about 300 manuscript pages, imaginatively titled “Mystery.” It wasn’t awful, so instead of deleting it I put it on a floppy disk and went to work on Red Planet Run, the third novel in the Star series.
A couple of years later I sold the first Star book and my editor at the time said, “So, what else have you got?”