This may seem an odd question coming from the creator of a piece of fiction, but in all honesty, I do have a hard time classifying exactly what genre Once Giants falls into. It certainly has its root in science fiction with shades of cyberpunk, in terms of the world and technology, but as for the premise and the kinds of stories, well, they range from action, to romance, to adventure, to crime drama.
And while this was all intentional, as Garan and I were looking for a project that could tell these kinds of stories, I suppose it’s origins was somewhat organic in nature and why pinning it down to one thing has become somewhat of a struggle.
For all of our stories, character comes first, and that was no different for the original premise. It began as an assignment during a Science Fiction writing clinic featuring Tobias Buckell. It’s not often such things occur in our neck of the woods, so for Garan and I, it was a must attend event.
For me especially, it was a boost I needed to get back into writing. Since the publishing of my second book in 2010, I had been struggling with a third novel in the series and was stuck on the second act. Then life happened and it lost all priority. Or rather, I devalued it’s priority. Especially as it seemed to be going nowhere. I still wanted to write, but completing that novel seems like a mountain not worth overcoming. To me, the thrill in the story was dead and I was just going through the motions.
So the writing clinic was a true shot in the arm for me. The first thing I did was research the presenter, Tobias Buckell. What struck me immediately was his blending of Caribbean culture and Sci-fi, something I had always viewed in a negative connotation. But when I read his novels (I think I read two of them before the class) it resonated so deeply with my own cultural roots, that it reignited that passion for writing within me. And I knew what made it interesting for me now: culture.
I won’t go into the details of the clinic, but it taught me a tremendous amount about pacing and the craft of writing a good action story–lessons I still endeavor to apply today.
In the clinic, we each had to produce a short story and needed to come up with three ideas. I had two that were far more, Sci-fi-ish. One was set in a future china, about a synthetic eel farmer who switches his infant son with the emperor’s child after a road accident. (The story was perhaps a bit too noir for me, but I loved the concept of the eels. You may see it appear in Once Giants at some point. *wink*wink*). The other idea was about a commissioning engineer who ignites the blackhole engines of starships. The plot involved political intrigue and still might make a good book to write one day, but again, it was perhaps too complex of a story to write.
My final idea, I almost never put down on paper. It had been something I’d been kicking around in my brain for a few years, but the idea seemed too absurd to admit out loud. It originally came from an online game (I’m a huge mmorpg fan, or was, i.e. recovering addict) which featured superhero characters. One of the power options they had for characters included giant growth, which was done pretty well in the game.
On a whim, I decided to make a joke character, called Size Queen, who grew huge when she got mad. I eventually came up with a backstory for her as a reformed villain, who was once a bodybuilder that used bio-enhancements to stay competitive. The idea really stuck with me and I found myself recreating Size Queen on nearly every mmorpg I played.
For a time, I wondered if I could actually turn the idea into an actual story, but it seemed too weird and too far removed from my earlier Christian based sci-fi novels. It was a sort of guilty pleasure for me. Thus, when the thought rolled around for my third short story idea, Size Queen naturally popped up, but I was reluctant to commit to it at first.
Finally I said, why not, it’s just one idea in three. It was by far my least detailed outline, but I set to recreating Size Queen as a believable sci-fi character with the exotic cultural influence inspired by Tobias Buckell’s novels as a cyberpunk backdrop.
When I shared these ideas with Garan and asked which he liked the best, he immediately said something akin to, “The one with the giant ex-wrestler chick. I wish I’d come up with an idea like that. Sounds really cool.”
And thus I had the inspiration to write the short story, The Size Queen. It was well received by the other writers at the clinic and it felt like something that needed to be continued. I toyed with the idea of expanded the short story into a novel, but it was again Garan who gave the inspiration: “Nah man. This story is done. Start a new one, with the same character. Like a comic book series.”
That led to me writing Warrior Boyz. By this time, Garan was chomping at the bit to get in on the action. Garan loved the idea of the characters and wanted to create one for himself, but had no affinity for world building, which I love.We had for years been considering collaborating on a writing project and our enthusiasm for the premise seemed like a fit. Thus the idea was born to have two different sorts a tales told through two main characters who shared the same world, and a history.
From there the stories grew organically with small vignettes and shorts serving as backstories and fillers between the main novellas. So while we ourselves love the idea and the world, we had a problem. How the heck do you explain what this is to someone who has never read it before?
So I’m turning to you guys for help. What exactly is Once Giants? Is it Sci-fi? Is it cyberpunk? Is it action crime drama? Is it chicklit romance? It’s clearly all of these, but I suppose the question really is, which aspect appeals most to readers and if marketed to, will make them come away saying, “Hey, that was good <blank> story.” and not, “Hey, that’s not what I thought this story was going to be about.”
So please, help us out! What kind of story is Once Giants to you? Who would love it? Who would not? Please leave you comments below! And as always, thanks for reading.