Leon Stevens discusses The View from Here trilogy
The View from Here Trilogy: Synopsis
Two adventurous people. A strange world. One goal. Unravel the mystery.
What would you do if you found yourself on or in another world? Do you have the skills and knowledge needed to survive or to make sense of what you see?
Thomas sets out on a hike he has done many times before. Taking only what he needs for the three or four hours he expects to be gone, he passes a vehicle in the parking lot. The handwritten note on the dashboard read: Not Abandoned. The view at the end of the trail was not what he expected—neither were the friendships.
Two adventurous people in an unknown world. Only their physical fitness and combined knowledge will get them through everything they may encounter.
* * *
I didn’t set out to write over sixty thousand words. The longest story I wrote before I started this trilogy was the short story The View from Here, clocking in at a whopping 3900 words which made it into my first science fiction book, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories. As with many short stories, it had an open ending that allowed the reader to extrapolate what would befall the characters. Although I was happy with the story, it did leave me wanting more.
I considered myself a short story writer. Perhaps because I am a slow writer, I don’t tend to write long, detailed descriptions, and many of my story ideas come to a natural conclusion on their own. I accepted the fact that this might be my calling.
Enter NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. It was suggested to me that I give it a try, the challenge being to write 1600 words per day for thirty days. Now, I have done challenges before, National Poetry Month (thirty poems in thirty days) and Inktober (thirty ink sketches in thirty days), but trying to write fifty-thousand words was definitely going to be a challenge. I already had a head start with my short story and now I had incentive.
I set an obtainable goal: Write every day. And I did. I wrote over a thousand words in one day, which is a record I have yet to break. Needless to say, I didn’t write the next great novel, but I had a good start on a pretty good story. So, as November passed, I kept writing until the novella, The View from Here, was complete.
It was meant to be a stand-alone, but I still had some ideas for the characters, and I knew the next NaNoWriMo was coming up, so I began to write the sequel, The Second View. As I was getting close to the 30K word mark, and far from the conclusion I had in mind, I made the decision that this would become a trilogy. Now, some readers don’t like cliffhangers being sprung on them, so I published book two with the subtitle, Book Two of The View from Here Trilogy. So, no surprises.
But there was a problem. The way the book started contradicted the ending of the first book, so the solution was to add an epilogue to The View from Here, allowing the story to flow seamlessly to the next. If you have the first version of the book, hang onto it, it might be a collector’s item in the future. Oh, and that version doesn’t have page numbers either. Oops.
As soon as I published book two, I started on The Final View. With this book, since I ended The Second View on a cliffhanger, I had the beginning—well, the starting point—of the book, and I had already written the ending, so it was just a matter of writing the middle. Halfway through, I had an idea for an epilogue, which I have to admit teared me up as I wrote it. Who would have thought that a 3900-word short story would become a trilogy?
Let’s talk about the covers. The cover is what entices the reader first. It should give a glimpse of what the book is about. Yes, people do judge a book by its cover, and everyone says not to scrimp on cover design, that you shouldn’t do your own, and you should look at the covers of the books that sell in your genre and use that as a guide. But after looking at the covers on the best-selling lists, there was only one problem: I didn’t care for most of them, and I was on a tight budget ($0.00).
When I designed the cover for my science fiction short story collection, I looked at best sellers. This is what I discovered are the most common themes for Sci-fi/Post-apocalyptic:
- Spaceship racing away
- Spaceship heading toward you (Oh, no!)
- Battling spaceships
- Spaceship entering a vortex
- Spaceship emerging from a vortex
- Futuristic city
- Futuristic city with aliens
- Hunky guy with laser gun
- Sexy girl with laser gun
- Hunky alien with laser gun
- Sexy alien with laser gun
- Ruined city
- Ruined city with guy in makeshift armor
- Ruined city with girl in makeshift armor
- Ruined city with guy AND girl in makeshift armor
- Ruined city with guy in government issued armor
- Ruined city with girl in government issued armor
- Ruined city with guy AND girl in government issued armor
- Ruined city with zombies
- Ruined city with zombies and a guy in makeshift armor
- Ruined city with zombies and a girl in makeshift armor
- Ruined city with zombies, a guy, AND a girl in makeshift armor
- Hunky guy battling zombies
- Sexy girl battling zombies
- Hunky zombie
- Sexy zombie
For The View from Here, I wanted to convey the idea of relationships and mystery. This is not an action story; it is an adventure. As I wrote it, I was reminded of the computer game “Myst” (remember that one?). If you were looking for an action game, it wasn’t for you. If you wanted to wander around thinking, “What the heck happened here?” while solving puzzles and problems, then this was for you. I spent hours at a time on that game. Sci-fi covers had become too busy for me. Too cartoony, too computery (yes, that’s a real word*).
I was happy with the final result, and only one reader said it was “Meh.” So, when the story was set to become a trilogy, I had to decide how I was going to approach the cover. Everything I tried looked too … different. It wasn’t really a different story—it was a continuation, so how to continue the theme? Use the same cover? Can I do that**?
I might be ignoring some expert and tried and true techniques, but in the end, none of those made me happy, and you know the old saying, “If Leon ain’t happy . . .well, he’s a grumpypants anyway. Just leave him alone.” My solution was to make slight variations in the cover to highlight the beginning, middle, and ending of the adventure.
I think I did it.
And guess what? If you put them all together, voila, I have my novel.
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/EHgkjDDAoLY
* No, it’s not.
**It turns out you can do whatever you want. It’s your book. Plus, I think it will look awesome as a box set.