Lucas Bale

Award-Winning Speculative Fiction Author

Sun Dragon, by Michael Brookes – Analysing a Writer's Process

2012: NASA’s Curiosity Rover lands on Mars to search for signs of whether microbial life existed on the planet.

2018: The first alien lifeform, a simple wormlike creature is discovered, gripping the world’s imagination.

2022: The first manned mission to Mars begins the longest and most dangerous journey ever undertaken by humankind.

From hundreds of potential candidates, six astronauts from countries around the world are selected to crew the historic mission. Led by Commander Samantha Collins, they must travel across the gulf of interplanetary space, over 150 million miles from home and help. Their mission is to investigate alien life, but what they discover is far beyond what anyone ever imagined...
— Sun Dragon, by Michael Brookes

What was the catalyst moment which made you decide to write for publication?

I've always wanted to write, but never seemed to push myself to take it seriously. There's a nanowrimo crew on Eurogamer and I watched them for a couple of years and finally dived in. Naturally the first draft was rough, but a few people who read it told me there was something there. So I worked on the draft and the following year released it. Thankfully it was well received!


How long do you generally research before beginning the first draft?

It varies depending on the book. My latest release - Sun Dragon - required a lot of research before I started. I also make sure to plan the story out before I start writing. Despite the plan things usually change along the way. That's part of the fun of first drafts.

What are the keys areas you research? Where does your inspiration tend to come from?

I tend to research technical aspects of a story if I'm in unfamiliar territory. For Sun Dragon there were two areas I need to establish before planning the story. The first was the mission itself. I read various papers and proposals for real manned missions to Mars. I wanted to make sure that I had an authentic feel for the mission as a framework for the story. The second aspect was the alien. I started with an idea for how I wanted the alien to work and that took some research to get right.


What led you to write Sun Dragon?

The inspiration for the story came from a fascination with the concept of first contact with alien life. However I wanted to come at the subject from a different angle to what I've seen before.

How long did it take you to write the first draft?

It took me about two months to write the first draft. For a first draft I tend to throw the story down as quickly as possible and then clean it up in the edit passes.

How many times did you personally edit that draft and how do you edit?

Sun Dragon had several edit passes. After the first draft I'll put it to one side for a month or two and then come back to it. The first edit pass is to clean up story and then one for the language. I then send it off to my test readers and incorporate any feedback that I need to. I'll then do a final language and proof pass before sending it to my editor.

What is your writing background and how have you developed your craft?

I enjoyed writing short stories as a youngster although it's only in the last few years that I've brought it to a level to publish.


Do you use a professional editor? If so, for what – developmental editing, line editing or copyediting? Or a combination?

I do use a professional editor for a final line edit of a book. For Sun Dragon I used the services of David Wailing.

Tell us about the cover design for Sun Dragon – how was it put together and what input did you have?

The cover design was put together by Katie Stewart. I described the general form of what I wanted and she put together a mock-up and she captured what I'd pictured in my head immediately and only some small tweaks were needed. I'm very pleased with the final result.

What marketing do you tend to do to increase your public face?

My marketing is driven mainly through my blog, on Facebook and Twitter. I'm also active on KUF, Goodreads and Kboards. I've also set up a virtual launch event for Sun Dragon on November 1st. Everyone is welcome -

How do you see the landscape of publishing developing over the next 24 months?

I think subscription based models will become more popular rather than pay per book, especially now that Amazon are getting in on the same model.

What is your next work in progress?

In my day job I'm executive producer for a space game - Elite: Dangerous which is due for release soon. I've written the tie in novel for the game that will be released at the same time. I'm also busy finishing the third book in the Third Path trilogy - The Last True Demon, it should hopefully be released early next year.

Michael Brookes is an Executive Producer with a leading UK games developer. Working in games and writing are two of his life passions and he considers himself fortunate to be able to indulge them both. He lives in the east of England, enjoying starry skies in the flattest part of the country. When not working or writing he can sometimes be found sleeping. Which is good as that is where many good ideas come from.

Michael can be found at his excellent and informative blog, The Cult of Me, and on Goodreads and Facebook.

Sun Dragon is available now!


All words copyright Lucas Bale, 2015