Timothy C. Ward grew up on DragonLance, Stephen King, and Dune. Read how he blends these influences in his serialized epic, Scavenger: Evolution, where sand divers uncover death and evolution within America’s buried fortresses. Scavenger: Evolution is available in ebook and signed paperback at SpikePub.com.
His first printed story, “The Bomb in the President’s Bathroom,” released in the Amish SciFi anthology, Tales from Pennsylvania.
First off, imagine your favorite read from last year and then add the generosity of that author to grant you permission to publish a story in the same world. That’s what Hugh Howey did for me in letting me write in his world of Sand (which is now part of the Kindle Worlds program, so anyone else can, too).
I loved three things about Sand: the sand diving technology, the future America covered in desert, and the way one family struggles not only to survive, but to forgive and love in spite of the choices they’ve made to survive.
I’m a character first reader. The world can be cool, the action swift, the technology accurate or at least believable, but if I don’t care about the characters, nothing else can save the story. In Sand, the first three points are there, but it isn’t so complicated that I had to spend months researching. I did read the book four times, but that was fun, (and was helped out by a solid performance in the audiobook). Fan fiction is evolving into an opportunity for new writers to use an established world, focus on their own characters and use what’s been established.
Hugh had a scene where scavengers dove into a trauma zone, looking for bodies. I knew as soon as I read that part that I wanted to tell the story of the person one of those divers was searching for. That evolved into a semi-personal extrapolation of fears and emotions I’ve dealt with lately. Divemaster Rush lost his son two years ago to a sand spill and has since quit diving, left his wife, and has taken up residence at the local bar and whore house. None of that has happened to me, but I can relate to the depression that follows loss (though not to the degree of a lost child).
I wrote Scavenger: Red Sands (Part One of Scavenger: Evolution) months after my wife delivered our first baby. Writing Rush’s character in that stage of hopelessness helped me evaluate a different kind of hopelessness that plagued me at the time, inspiring me as I inspired Rush, to live for his child and how he would want to see him move on. There has been a lot of pressure as a new father, but as much as I’ve wanted to justify a wrong attitude by pointing out how hard life has been, one of the final arguments has been, “Your son sees you. What you do cannot be taken back.” In a way, I motivated myself by finding a way to motivate my hero.
Another aspect I loved about writing Scavenger: Evolution was the thrill of sand diving. Hugh’s description of the suit is pretty much a scuba diving suit with an electromagnetic pulse that connects to a visor on the temples, allowing the diver to manipulate the consistency of sand around him. He can dive as though into water or he can turn it into the hardness of stone, but if he isn’t careful, his fears can cause him to lose control and he’ll be crushed deep below the surface, with or without air. I live in Iowa. That may be enough said as far as the adventure I experience daily. But at heart I’m a snowboarder and surfer (if you could call paddling and falling, surfing) who’s been as far as Australia and New Zealand. Writing Scavenger: Evolution was my way of escaping this flat and land locked locale, on top of while suffering three years of debilitating injuries.
Finally, I loved researching the world behind this strange desert. I departed from some elements to Hugh’s setting and influential characters so that I could write my own story. What that turned into is a kind of Dune meets Alien combination of exploration and fear. Scavenger: Evolution is only the first step in this story, but if it goes well, I am excited to see how far it can expand. The technologies, character cast and wedge between Rush and his wife get pretty intense, but more exciting than that is they are only just introduced.