Jeannette Bedard is a blogger and science fiction author whose book Day 115 on an Alien World is a futuristic mystery. In this guest post, she shares her journey in becoming a writer.
Sci-Fi Author Jeannette Bedard
It was a dark and stormy night...
This was the first line of the first piece of fiction I ever wrote. I think I was about ten at the time and the story was about a wizard in his tower working on potions. This wasn't my first foray into imaginary worlds, just the first one I wrote down--sadly, I don't have a copy now.
As long as I can remember, my imagination has been swimming with stories—almost always set in a fantastical world (futuristic or fantasy) filled with adventure. But, I've never considered myself much of a writer, being mildly dyslexic and a non-linear thinker.
A few years later, when I was in high school, I started mulling over a new story idea and I started writing it down. The story was military science fiction – a genre I’d never read any books in at the time. At that point in my life, I don’t think I’d even read any science fiction then either beyond A Wrinkle in Time. But, I kept at it, taking the manuscript with me to university—two years later it was done.
I don’t remember the full plot of my book, just snippets of a post-apocalyptic Earth, space ship battles and a futuristic prison. My original idea included pegaus-style horses with wings, but couldn’t come up with any reasonable explanation of how they could possible generate enough lift to get off the ground so I edited them out. The title was Twilight– chosen over a decade before that title was linked to vampiric romance.
I still have a copy of this one. The stack of printed pages are thick enough to be roughly 70,000 words, an okay length for a novel. I’ve been debating if I should read it or not. Over the years after that, I wrote two more novels that are still stashed (un-read) in binders on my shelf along with notebooks full of ideas.
To my surprise, when I started grad school in a mathy, science discipline, the first piece of advice my supervisor gave me was to start writing--and he wanted to see my early drafts. I handed in a potential thesis chapter right away with my non-linear thoughts and taciturn writing on full display.
He was brutally honest about the state of my writing, but he was also clear that the mechanics of writing could be learned. He pointed out that writing about science is an exercise in storytelling (or at least it should be) and that the only way to become a good storyteller was to practice.
After our conversation, I walked out his office and started a blog (Tangent Ramblings) to write about science. I didn't think I had more than a half-dozen posts in me—that was in 2011 and I've been writing posts ever since. I think I'm up over 300 now.
Fast forward a few years, and I realized I liked the mechanics of telling as story, and I was getting better at it.
Then I read The Martian, which I enjoyed greatly. It was the first science fiction I’d read in years and it set gears into motion in my head pondering my own fiction again. This is the scenario I started with:
You are in an atmospheric suit on an alien world and there’s a leak in it. Alarms are blaring as your bubble of breathable air is bleeding away. Slap a patch on the leak and you’d be good to go. Mark Watney managed it – but you’re not this lucky. What if the suit was also covered in mud? How would you find the leak then? Muddy gloves wouldn’t get far in cleaning the suit off. But it still could be worse, what if the mud was about to freeze? What if you’re completely alone?
Ideas flowed from there and grew into an entire novel. This time, I didn't put the book on the shelf after the first draft. Instead, I kept working on it. First by dissecting its structure, morphing my non-linear thoughts into a logically flowing story. I shared it with as many people who would read it and incorporated their feedback.
Three years later, I bit my lip and released the completed novel to the world--Day 115 on an Alien World. The book is widely available both in ebook and print format and I've been amazed at the all the positive feedback! Here's my favourite review so far (from Amazon): “I'm a sucker for well-written sci-fi adventure novels, and boy, did this one deliver!”
I think I can declare myself officially bitten by the writing bug as book 2 in the series (Far Side of the Moon) is also now out and book 3, Abandoned Ships; Hijacked Minds, is in its final stages on track to be released early summer.
I'm still debating if I dare to read my first novel. Perhaps someday I'll make up my mind—until then it'll remain stashed on my shelf.
The first Dragons, Zombies and Aliens blog was started in 2015. Somewhere between college coursework, paying rent with door-to-door sales, and keeping up with my sorority sisters, I wrote reviews, rants and commentaries on books, TV shows, and movies. Now, this blog has moved, improved, and the sky's the limit!