The Process of Writing The Zarulium Chronicles

      After I decided on sci-fi as my genre and time travel as my topic, I needed both story and characters. The first idea I explored was simple: how many young characters will I have?

      I knew immediately that I wanted my main young character to be female. This was mostly because I have almost only experienced male ones, in the past. That is, whether it was Luke Skywalker, Marty McFly, Harry Potter, or even Frodo Baggins, most of the big sci-fi & fantasy character box office stars of the past 40 years have been male. When The Hunger Games heroine Katniss hit the screens in May of 2012, I could only recall Lara Croft as the other recent female version of such a character, going back many years.

      After I made this decision, I examined the love triangle as an archetype. For example, I noticed that Luke and Han competed for Leia's hand until we received the message that Luke was actually her brother. In the Potter series, one might have guessed that Hermione and Harry would become romantically involved, but in time, we discover this is her destiny with Ron. I enjoyed this as a plot surprise device, as I believe most fans did, and so I began to think about using this in my work.

      I reasoned that if it made logical sense that an adult created the time travelling device that the young characters will use, then it followed that at least one adult would be very important in the story through-line. I felt that both adult readers and young adults might enjoy a plot that involved romantic surprises throughout at both levels. After all, the telling of most sci-fi and fantasy novel stories is fundamentally rooted in the romance novel: I decided the inventor should have a romantic interest, and so should the teens.

      By the time I arrived at this point, I had the idea brewing that I should have multicultural characters. Although I admired the works of Lucas and Rowling; nevertheless, they were respectively rather American and British. Being Canadian, I thought it would be a pleasant change to involve as many characters from different places as possible. I thought this was most reflective of the society I grew up in, and might serve to help promote a culture of global harmony.

      To that end, I began to explore where the young people might hail from and this led me to the question 'How many will there be?' That is, how many young time travelers did I need to make the stories work?

      I did not want to copy the idea of 'two guys and a girl', and so I considered more of a 'Scooby Do' team concept. I reasoned that if each youth brought a special ability or two to the group, then that would be both realistic, and allow me to expand the group size. This meant I could look at a team with five or six teens from a similar number of countries.

      To be fair, I imagined each continent represented by one youth, and then set out to create a story line that would be believable within this framework. Thus, I had a few characters rolling around in a time machine, but no story within which they could participate.

      By now, I was refreshing my knowledge of science fact and fiction as the two related to time travel. I was pleasantly surprised to recall that virtually all fact on the subject remains theoretical; thus, easy to use as fiction because, until anyone proves anything incontrovertibly, then one claim has as much merit as another!

      As I read, I began to imagine what my inventor adult looked like, where he hailed from, and what his relationship might be to any of the teens. Since Back to the Future covered the 'scientist bonds with teen' so well, I needed a new slant.

      I decided next, that I would create one of the teens as the child of the inventor, but I did not want a close relationship between them at the start. I preferred them in conflict. I would create a second teen who becomes close to the inventor, and who serves to break down language and comprehension barriers for the reader.

      I also thought about what caused my scientist to become reclusive, beyond the reason being personality based. Again, I sought a fresher character approach, and besides, 'reclusive mad scientist' was almost the only sort I had ever encountered in fiction: I felt a need to move on from him.

      Thinking about time traveling stories in 2012 encouraged me to 'think big' – after all, one's budget limitation in a novel, is one's imagination; moreover, recent computer graphics enable visual arts media to match the imagination to the latest innovation: if someone were to want to make a film of this book, then I should not limit my imagination.

      When I revisited my plan to present a global concept regarding characters, I became stuck in Europe. That is, I am a fan of so many European cultures that it was hard for me to pick one country to represent; thus, I decided to make the inventor hail from a European nation. I realized about the same time that I wanted to have a First Nations teen from North America as a character; yet, I had also envisioned my main female would somehow be local too.

      My solution became to celebrate a significant achievement that two world powers experienced when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990: the Cold War ended. I decided that my inventor could be an ex-pat from what is now the Ukraine; his daughter was American born; and that my First Nations teen would be Canadian.

      Technically then, while two of my teen team were North American, I count Natalia's inventor father as representing Europe. To even the slight imbalance there, I decided Anton should have a very rich sponsor who supports him financially. I decided that she would be European also, and then I thought about the recent royal wedding in the UK and how the British monarchy still have an almost magic effect on so many people in the world with their royal sophistication, charm and sense of propriety, and thus I created Lady Ruth as the wealthy sponsor.

      After that, I began compiling story. I wanted the teens to have an advantage as travelers that made them better than adults for the task. I recalled that years ago I read or saw a story about how the Nazca Lines in Peru sat atop protected mountains that someone speculated had 'all the minerals known to humanity within them!'

      I will stop now, and let you read the story!

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