Forever Hollow is a story that really came out of nowhere for me. It all started with a little writing contest that many may be familiar with, NaNoWriMo. For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. The contest is to write an entire novel in a matter of 30 days during the month of November.
I came across NaNoWriMo a few years ago after I had finished the first book of my Legends of the Houkou trilogy. Since it was a quick writing contest, I wanted to try something different and take a break from the fantasy realm for a while. I decided to go with a sci-fi, dystopian novel. I’ve always loved science fiction, and the dystopian genre has been one of my favorite areas of science fiction. Novels like Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Brave New World, and The Book have had a great deal of influence on me. I gained so much from reading these books that I wanted to attempt to do the same. And when I found NaNoWriMo, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to try. So, three days late to the contest, on November 3, I started writing.
Actually, when I started writing, I had nothing. No plan. No characters. No concept. Just a genre.
It all started with one phrase and a single object—“Let me give you a hand” and a figurine of a monkey. That’s how the antique store scene came about. I went to a character generator, and suddenly Lucian Pope found the page. I thought the monkey statue a good image to use for dystopia since monkeys are often connected to mischief. After finishing the antique store scene, I knew I had something going.
People’s over-reliance on technology is something I’ve had a soap box about for a while now. I’ve noticed how things that used to be basic information to us suddenly became nonexistent. I couldn’t even remember my wife’s phone number because I had programmed it into my cell phone and never really thought to look at it. With my experience in education and teaching high school, I easily connected this reliance on technology with the lack of real critical thinking in a lot of people. So, I took it to the extreme, and Brightwater was born.
I took a lot of thematic inspiration for Fahrenheit 451 as well. The first time I read through that novel, I was amazed at the way Bradbury depicted a futuristic America. Sixty years after Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit, the things that he wrote seemed to be the present. The lack of interest in reading, the shallow nature of people, the inability think all made me think of the things I experience on a daily basis.
I knew I had something going on when I found my concept, so I worked on some more characters. I needed some rebels, and that’s where I met Fireteam Alpha, led by the rough-cut Agent Small (who by the way, I picture being Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in my head). The Lucian and Genevieve story came a little later, but there will be another entry on the character of Lucian Pope.
I really fell in love with the characters, and the concept was one I’ve always had strong feelings about, so I was set and off to the races. My approach to this story was different from the Legends of the Houkou books. I had to do a lot of research and world building to write that story. Forever Hollow became my off-the-cuff story. I had no outline and no thought as to how it was going to end. All I knew was that Lucian was getting himself into trouble, and the story went on from there.
I didn’t win NaNoWriMo that year. By the end of November, I only had about half of the story written. But I had taken so much time and really became interested in the characters and their issues that I wanted to finish it. I finished the first draft by the end of January. Three months was a lot less time than it had taken me to write Flames of the Phoenix, so I was excited by everything. Eventually, I fleshed the story out some more and added some more depth to it and came out with a product I was extremely proud of.
It seemed like kind of a fluke, but Forever Hollow has become a story that I’ve grown to love. I love the characters. They pretty much created themselves, and have become near and dear to me.