Cindy Koepp

Writing on the Edge

Where Did This Story Come from Anyway?

Remnant in the Stars was originally based on a role-playing session or few in high school involving a passel of friends and me.
The original was "The Adventures of Aerosmith," a series of 4 short stories developed from those gaming sessions.

The early plots of those short stories had to do with aliens that wanted to observe humans and understand them by putting them under stressful situations and an AI computer taking over a derelict ship on an intercept course with Earth.

In college, a gent I knew offered to help me turn the short stories into a novel. We parted ways after some heavy-duty creative differences.

Someone pointed out the obvious: The name Aerosmith was already in popular use. So, I changed the name of the ship to Gyrfalcon. The next version was called Adventures of Gyrfalcon.

In Adventures of Gyrfalcon, Sora, Remnant in the Star's main character, was female and avian … and had a different name (Cara M--- something-that-had-20-odd-letters-after-it. No kidding, but it only showed up once. The rest of the time she used a shorter version.). At that point, there was no plot about his kid's disappearance or about his other kid's mental powers. It was all about tricking the AI computer into a self-destruct sequence then having to bail out quickly while systems failed and exploded around them.

Adventures of Gyrfalcon had plot holes you could parallel park a fleet of semis in.
I wasn't sure how to deal with that, so I shelved it and worked on other projects including Drug War and Lines of Succession before coming back to it.

Right about the time I decided to shelve Adventures of Gyrfalcon, I got stupidly sick. A year was spent figuring out what the problem was. The final diagnosis: food allergies and intolerances. A friend at church suggested that I should write about my medical misadventures in a novel. I decided that I would resurrect Adventures of Gyrfalcon and use that as a vehicle to write about my medical misadventures.

So, the character that was me in the original role-playing game scenario changed to a pilot who was badly injured in a battle. The prosthetic she got as a result was hinky.

Well, "pilot with a hinky prosthetic" wasn't much of a plot. I mean, hanging out in doctor offices while eighty-five million and a half tests are done isn't very exciting. Trust me. I was there. I still needed something for the characters to actually DO. The AI spaceship run amok changed into a derelict spaceship lost somewhere, and the plot involved finding the ship and rescuing what was left of the crew. I also added a Bad Guy to chase the crew around and cause problems.

I needed a reason for the ship to go derelict and decided that they were attacked by Pneumodyne, a race of spiritual critters that come in good guys and bad guys. They look like spheres of light.
As bad as I am at finding interesting titles, even I can tell that Adventures of Gyrfalcon is pretty hokey, so I changed it to Pneumodyne. Pneumodyne is a combination of Greek root words that mean Spirit Power.

Sora showed up in his current form for the first time in Pneumodyne. All the characters solidified at this point. There have been name changes, but otherwise all the character personalities locked down.

Sora had a very dense accent. Imagine a line or few of dialogue with no pronouns and only present tense verbs ... no helping verbs or infinitives allowed. Present tense only. It was so stiff that when I went back to reread a scene, even I had trouble figuring out what he was saying. I toned it down considerably, which was not as easy at it sounds. When I did the final proof check at the end of May, I still found a couple traces of it. All clear now!

The Pneumodyne in this draft represented a civilization of fallen angels, some of whom had repented and were trying to work their way back to God by taking care of the survivors of the derelict ship. This bit of backstory was only hinted at in the draft.

My pal played beta-reader for me on that draft and suggested that the story needed more on the Pneumodyne world. So, I followed Sora's kid a little more closely to give more of a perspective of what was going on there.

She also suggested I find a title that actually meant something comprehensible to people who haven't studied Greek and Latin roots. The title changed to Remnant in the Stars.

I kept the name of the race the same, but spelled it phonetically to get rid of the weird Greek letter combination. The alien race became Numodyne.

The next draft included the hermit crab-like race and the additional subplot of Sora's youngest daughter. The purpose of the hermit crab critters was to resolve the problem the Numodyne good guys were having. The subplot with Sora's youngest daughter was set up to increase the conflicting feelings Sora felt about having to leave his family behind while he searched for the oldest. There isn't much left in the plot to hearken back to the original "Adventures of Aerosmith."

Remnant in the Stars in its "final" form has had 6 different openings. Yes, I have a hard time figuring out where to start these things. I'd fill you in on the different beginnings this had, but that'd spill the beans on some of the surprises in the current plot, which is why some of them had to go away.

I originally sent this first to Oaktara, who declined, and then to Virtual Tales. Right about then, Yahoo changed spam filters, and only through the acquisition editor's persistence were they able to get in touch with me to let me know they wanted to offer a contract.

Unfortunately, Virtual Tales closed down shortly after I signed the contract. Don't get the impression that they left all their orphaned authors in a lurch, though. They used their contacts to recommend other publishers who might like to pick up our work.

One of the publishers recommended for me was Under the Moon, the book publishing side of role-playing game company Final Sword Productions. Since Remnant in the Stars had its start as an RPG, I decided to go for it.

Terri Pray at Under the Moon accepted it with the caveat that we had some work to do to spiffy it up. That was fine by me. I knew it wasn't perfect.

Sam and Terri Pray at Under the Moon have been wonderful to work with. They were very patient when my job left only a few hours a week to work on revisions, and they answered all my bizarre questions quickly and with specific examples. Terri's suggestions greatly improved the work while leaving my ideas intact.

Sequel? Why, yes, there will be!  I'm working on The Loudest Actions even now.

dice photo credit: HammerIntoAnvil via photopin cc
truck photo credit: Erik.Nielsen.Photos via photopin cc