Releasing my first full-length novel Colonisation in April 2013 was a pretty big deal for me, and even though that form was only available briefly, it taught me a ton of lessons that are reflected in my writing to this day.
I’ve been closely scrutinising my own work in terms of Colonisation; I’ve nearly finished (at long last) a careful and thorough pass over the current draft, with a ton of changes I hope to make. Some of them are to harmonise my own in-universe terms and ideas, and some are as mundane as spelling and others as significant as re-architecting entire chapters. It’s been a heavy job; I am my most ardent critic, but it’s been thoroughly enlightening and enjoyable.
During that time, too, I’ve also read a lot, and written a lot more and I feel Colonisation can benefit from the cumulative experience I’ve gained during the rewrite and writing subsequence short stories. Moreover, I feel that Colonisation has, a a concept, outgrown not only my initial aims – no longer do I feel the “young adult pulp sci-fi” epithet does the story I both want to and now feel I can tell justice – but also its title.
Colonisation is no more – the edition I’m working on now will go under the title of Mars Zero.
My rationale is that my plans for the book – to bring the story to a wider appeal through better characterisation, better pacing and, to be honest, better science means a new title is not only advantageous but befitting. I’m taking inspiration from the Mars One project that I find both fascinating and inspiring. I’ve also been reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s seminal colonisation novel Red Mars – it’s a book I’d have loved to write; that realisation alone led to my new plans for Mars Zero – which had proved an education, and given me the grounds to focus my efforts with the current “green” rewrite (current rewrite is in red pen; I’ll do another pass in green with the new additions) that’ll take me the rest of the year.
The core of the story that I told in the original Colonisation is going to be intact. It’s going to be about a group of pioneers, betrayed by their human brethren, forging a path on a new world and the inherent struggles. But it’s going to be so much more than a slushy teenage love story with the a science-fiction story on the periphery; the science is going to get hardened up and the action more compelling.
I can’t wait to show Mars Zero to you as soon as I can squeeze it from my brain! So keep your spacesuits warmed up, it’s on the way!