Today’s guest is the author of Flotsam. I would call Flotsam a scifi steampunk fantasy – in other worlds – very cool!
Why I Wrote FLOTSAM
Or, How Stories are Itchy Mosquito Bites and it’s Totally Okay if You Want to Scratch at Them
by R. J. Theodore
I was possessed. Inspired. I was taken in by the fantasy of a world I preferred over my reality. I was lonely. And bored. I was fresh out of college, I had a new job, and I feared my real-life adventures were over.
I believe everyone has books in them. For me, the summer of 2003 planted and nurtured the seed that became the sprout that became the mighty sequoia of my author career. Mind you, neither I nor my career is sequoia-sized.
Me? I’m small. Perhaps birch or dogwood-sized, but this isn’t about the accurate portrayal of me as a woody plant. This is about epic fantasy and swashbuckling and otherworldly magic. I’ve got a book. And I believe you’ve got a book. We’re book-having trees – pick your variety – and we’re bursting at the seams with stories.
Don’t think so? Fight me. I started as an innocent with no idea I was going to write FLOTSAM until I was in the middle of the thing.
I could have laughed off the idea, amused myself with a single illustration of a character who appeared to me while I was watching a flick, and then moved on with my life. If I hadn’t been in the uncomfortable transition between college and corporate life that summer, the vaporous form of a female pirate captain might have been only a passing fancy quickly forgotten.
And I think that’s what happens to sort folks into writers and non-writers. People have ideas and, as if the idea were a mosquito buzzing around their head, they wave it off. Maybe a passing comment, but the very notion of inviting that story mosquito to drink from their veins is unapproachable. Society likes blockbuster movies based on bestselling novels, but I don’t think society really values the moment when the idea happens, unless that idea is a tennis racket which syncs with your smartphone to schedule follow-up meetings with your opponent to gloat about your score. The pieces of stories which come to us from flashes of inspiration are not things we readily want others to know about, especially if we are trying to fit in with the society that we perceive wants an “As Seen on Shark Tank” product promising to make life effortless, instead of a book that demands an investment of time and attention.
I think the reason I write books when other people don’t is I hear that whining buzz and my instinct is to bare my throat to it, rather than shoo it away. This instinct wasn’t always so … instinctive. First, I had to welcome the buzz when I heard it. It helped I was suffering a new, unfamiliar anxiety and I was eager to escape. Talis’s story, daydreaming of it and eventually recording it, provided a welcome distraction.
I’ve recently heard the suggestion that story-creators are addicts. That those who go from idea to finished work are those who give in to the compulsion to create. I know I have an addictive personality, so I’m all for that explanation. No matter what I do, this invented world is on my mind. I nearly destroyed my wrist and back trying to illustrate the story, because coming out of art school, visual expression was all I knew. I worked at my oversized pages whenever I had spare time, driven to get my story into the world. I thought I would be free once it was done. That was never ever going to be an option.
Now I know I will never be free of story ideas. They swarm around me, buzzing so loud I may miss entire conversations. It’s as distracting as the metaphor makes it sound, and as itchy as the mosquito bites are in real life. Except this itchy saliva also wakes you out of dead sleeps and shoves you toward your keyboard.
But once I let the idea of FLOTSAM bite me, I had no other choice. Giving into that first story granted me an extra-sensory perception. Now I see stories in everything. Offhand comments; the warm glow of flame over the ash in a fireplace; the crescent shadows cast by leaves during an eclipse; the texture of a handwoven net preserved from the 1800s; vocabulary; weather; steak knives. Stories are everywhere.
I was compelled to write FLOTSAM and, by writing FLOTSAM, I am now compelled to write more. I didn’t shoo away that mosquito, and I can’t seem to shoo away these next swarms. Life as a storyteller is all about ending up as their pincushion.
I let my character tell me about herself, about her world, the people in her life, the ship she dreamed of, and the things that got her out of bed in the morning. And through chronicling it all, I discovered what I wanted out of life as well.
FLOTSAM is her story tangled with mine. As Talis comes to grips with her desires and what she’s willing to do to obtain them, it mirrors my own journey to learn what I wanted and what it’s worth to me.
It wasn’t what either of us expected.
Captain Talis just wants to keep her airship crew from starving, and maybe scrape up enough cash for some badly needed repairs. When an anonymous client offers a small fortune to root through a pile of atmospheric wreckage, it seems like an easy payday. The job yields an ancient ring, a forbidden secret, and a host of deadly enemies.
Now on the run from cultists with powerful allies, Talis needs to unload the ring as quickly as possible. Her desperate search for a buyer and the fallout from her discovery leads to a planetary battle between a secret society, alien forces, and even the gods themselves.
Talis and her crew have just one desperate chance to make things right before their potential big score destroys them all.
Add Flotsam to your Goodreads shelf:
About the Author
R J THEODORE is hellbent on keeping herself busy. Seriously folks, if she has two spare minutes to rub together at the end of the day, she invents a new project with which to occupy them.
She lives in New England with her family, enjoys design, illustration, podcasting, binging on many forms of visual and written media, napping with her cats, and cooking. She is passionate about art and coffee.
FLOTSAM, Theodore’s debut novel, is available in print, digital, and audio from Parvus Press.