The Story in the Stars, the book that launched my Gateway to Gannah sci-fi series, was inspired by a little nonfiction book I ran across about a decade ago, originally written in the 1880s but reprinted almost a century later.
It proposed the theory that when God created the heavens and the earth, He arranged the stars in constellation pictures to depict the gospel message for early man to “read” in the sky. The concept so fascinated me that I decided to write a story in which the characters discovered this “story in the stars.”
While writing the book, my explorations of the planet uncovered too many fun things to include in one volume, so I dove into a second book. Its inspiration? The 1950s-vintage young readers’ book Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry.
Based on an actual situation, it tells the story of a young burro that lives alone in the Grand Canyon and is befriended by an old prospector. As I read it to my little daughter in the early 1980s, the desolate existence of that burro captured my imagination, and for the next three decades, the idea echoed like a faceless entity wandering through the empty wasteland of my mind looking for a story to fit into.
Or something like that.
Anyway, it was Brighty’s lonely existence in the Grand Canyon that inspired the character Dassa’s solitary wandering through the Ruwach Gorge on the planet Gannah.
While writing the first draft, I couldn’t decide what to call it, so the working title was simply “Gannah 2.”
Until I drafted Chapter 11. In the chapter’s last scene, the grandfather thought he’d heard a voice spoken by a shadowy shape. However, he explained it away by saying it was just a shadow on the wall, and what he’d heard was only the wind. Ten-year-old Adam thought that a ridiculous explanation. He thought, I’ve lived in this place my whole life and I’ve never heard words in the wind.
As soon as he said that, I grinned wide. Words in the wind? That’s my title! Thank you, Adam!
Writing is often a solitary pursuit, but I’m never lonely. Things like old books, burros, and opinionated characters can be good companions and active partners in the work.
The Story in the Stars, the first in the Gateway to Gannah sci-fi series, was a Carol Award finalist in 2012. The adventure continues with Words in the Wind—develops further in Ransom in the Rock—and comes to a stirring conclusion in The Last Toqeph.