Sunday, July 8, 2007

Birdwatching in Grantville, U.S.E.

Where does the time fly? Well, lately it's been through a burning ring of fire!

Just over two years ago I walked into Kinokuniya's excellent English language bookstore here in Bangkok thirsting for a good read. Scanning the science fiction section my eyes were caught by a novel titled simply 1632 by Eric Flint. The cover featured a group of seventeenth century musketmen taking on a pick-up truck of shotgun wielding hillbillies- wild and wonderful, I took it home. That night I read into the wee hours not wanting to put it down! I was hooked and went downtown again the very next day to grab 1633.

Premise in a nutshell: The sleepy West Virginia mining town of Grantville is caught up in a dimensional rift; a side effect of the solipsistic alien Assiti's latest quantum art project. In the flash of light and cosmic thunder that follow, dubbed the Ring of Fire (RoF) , a six mile circle of 1990's WV is transported to seventeenth century Germany. Finding themselves in the middle of the Thirty Years War the American townsfolk begin to change the course of world history with their advanced technology and notions of freedom.

I eventually learned that the novels rightfully enjoy an enormous fan following and that publisher Baen Books hosts a forum dedicated to Eric Flint's RoF sagas. I was very excited to discover that there is an online e-zine dedicated to expanding this shared universe: The Grantville Gazette !

Ever since reading the first novel I had a story of my own set in the RoF lurking in the back of my mind- now I knew there was a place where I might be able to share it, so I started writing Birdwatching; the quest of depressed divorcée and amateur birdwatcher Pam Miller to learn if her beloved eastern cardinals survived the trip through the RoF. Hiking all over hilly Grantville and the surrounding Thuringean forests with her bodyguard and guide the stoic ex-soldier Gerbald in search of transplanted American birds (particularly the cardinal) leads to the beginning of a better life in her new time and place.

I was incredibly pleased that the editorial staff and fellow writers liked my work and the next thing I knew I had made my first professional creative writing sale! To my further delight
Editor Supreme (and wielder of fearsome supernatural powers!) Paula Goodlett encouraged me to write more! I now have a color copy of the check from Eric Flint for Birdwatching framed and hung in a place of honor over my writing desk.

Since then Ive written a mini-trilogy of 'Pam the Birdwatcher' stories. Birdwatching was published in The Grantville Gazette, issue 12 and now my second story, Protected Species is featured in the current Grantville Gazette, issue 13. The third, Bats in the Belfry is currently slated for issue 14. I'll be posting here in detail on those stories shortly.

Writing these stories and working with the wonderful folks at Baen's Bar is a lot of fun and a wonderful opportunity. I would especially like to thank Eric Flint for starting this phenomenon, Paula Goodlett for giving a new author a chance and Virginia Demarce, co-author of 1634: The Ram Rebellion, for sharing her knowledge and experience.

Right now I 'm struggling with, ahem, *cough* I mean working on a new set of stories that focus on Pam's young adult son Walt and his new bride Crystal. After I finish these (gracious gods help me!!!) I'll start another set of Pam stories that will feature some world travel, seventeenth century style! Here's the teaser: Mission to Mauritius!

More fun to come!