Ideas to reboot the Island of Fog series
Posted on June 27, 2012 (Subscribe to Blog)
No, I'm not planning to rewrite the books or anything like that; this "reboot" is more for the benefit of publishers. You see, I learned long ago that publishers might not be interested in my books because... well, because they're already published. And I couldn't undo that even if I wanted to, which I don't. I like self-publishing.
But there's no reason I can't produce Island of Fog-ish books exclusively for submission to publishers. I can't simply rename the books because that would be cheating, but I can write spin-off books or prequels that are based on the series but otherwise completely unique.
So by "reboot" I mean writing about different characters in a similar situation. The obvious choice is delving into an era before Hal and his friends came along – way back when Miss Simone and her classmates were discovering themselves. I have everything I need already in place. The characters are there, the world is there, even the background history is there. I would be writing about my familiar world but from a fresh new perspective. Fans of the series would instantly relate to it, but new readers would see it as a completely new series that stands on its own.
I would also benefit from several books' worth of experience. When I look at Island of Fog now, I keep finding clunky sentences and minor typos and missing hyphens... In other words, I feel like (and hope) I've learned a few things over the last few years. They say you should never submit your first novel to a publisher. Or your second. Well, by the end of August I would have written five, not to mention a couple of others in the background. Hopefully that's enough "practice" in the eyes of a publisher! Five books is half a million words, after all.
The problem with writing about Miss Simone and her classmates is that, according to the story, they all began shapeshifting at age eight. I started off my series aiming for MG (middle grade readers age 9-12) but I think they've shifted a little towards YA (young adult readers age 12+). An eight-year-old main character wouldn't work in either case, and since I plan to label my spin-off novels YA, I really need a main character who is around fourteen or so. Therefore I wouldn't be able to follow Miss Simone directly the way I followed Hal; I would have my new fourteen-year-old working with the young shapeshifters, perhaps unaware of what's going on until they start changing...
There are lots of ways I could go about this, but in all cases I'd be writing about "what I know" – in other words, a world I've already created and am familiar with. I think having an obvious familiarity with a vast number of small details introduced throughout the Fog series will come through in a new, back-to-the-beginning novel, even though the main character will be someone entirely different.
I had another idea, too, that takes place several years after the current Fog series. I'm going to add a small tie-in toward the end of Roads of Madness, a sort of foreshadowing for that future book. In fact I'm about to write it into an upcoming scene. This foreshadowing will probably go unnoticed by most, but if I ever write that tie-in/spin-off novel, then fans will be able to look back and say, "Ah yes!" and point triumphantly at the page. I like stuff like that.
At the moment I'm thinking of writing these spin-offs exclusively for submission to publishers, but failing all else I would end up with a set of new books that I could self-publish for fans later on. :-)
I'm all for anything that keeps more Robinson books in the pipeline. To me, your work is a matter of it falling in the right hands. It's not a matter of it not being good enough or you not being a dedicated writer. You have all the right attributes to succeed. My vote is for you to write every spare second you can get and toss more deliciously creative books out there.
I admire me Keith Robinson and the wonderful body of work he is building.
Well, gosh, please tell that to the publishers!! :-)