Guest Post – Karina Fabian
Posted September 8, 2011on:
Today it is my privilege to host Karina Fabian, here to tell you all about how her new novel, Mind Over Mind, came to be. Take it away, Karina!
Deryl Stephen’s uncontrollable telepathic abilities have landed him in a mental health institution, where no one believes in his powers.
But when Joshua Lawson, a student of neuro linguistic programming, takes part in a summer internship, he takes the unique step of accepting Deryl’s reality and teaches him to work with it. As Deryl learns control, he finds his next challenge is to face the aliens who have been contacting him psychically for years—aliens who would use him to further their cause in an interplanetary war.
Sometimes, a story does not leave you, but isn’t satisfied with its first generation. Perhaps it’s a short story that demands to be a novel; or a side plot that demands its own time. In the case of Mind Over Mind, it was a first novel that eventually ended up a trilogy.
I started this story in college as a short story for a science fiction class: simple boy-meets-alien girl/boy-saves-alien-world scenario. I wrote it more out of spite than anything; my midterm paper got a B because the professor didn’t like my analysis of some story I’ve long since forgotten. He loved the story, gave it an A, and thought I should make it into a novel.
I spent the next year working on that novel. I had played with it over the summer, generating an entire notebook of notes, dialogue, etc–which I lost the first weekend at college. So I decided, “Ah, the plot was stupid, anyway,” and rewrote it. I sent it out to several publishers, who all sent me very nice form rejections. So I gave it up, stuck the hard copy on a shelf, finished college, became an officer in the military, got married and had kids, then started a writing career in earnest in 1996.
In 2001, I was homeschooling two kids and had a toddler and a baby at home, so doing a lot of writing was out of the question, but I didn’t want to lose the habit. I decided to brush off the old novel and try again. I thought it’d be easy to revise until I saw how, well, shallow it was. The character, Chaz, was a cool college Mary Sue with psychic powers, and Joshua was a hick sidekick. TRIPE! Ten years of living had given me some perspective, and I realized I needed to rethink the whole thing. I did love the premise, though, and the planets (Kanaan and Barin) and the character Tasmae (known as the Miscria.) So I rethought poor Chaz until he ended up with a tortured history and was living in an asylum. His name changed to Deryl along the way. Joshua became a protégée intern (and went from country hick to Black kid from the suburbs–don’t ask how; I don’t question these things.)
The book then had enough meat to become a trilogy, where I could explore the character’s past, build the worlds of Kanaan and Barin more fully, explore the relationship between The Miscria and her planet, and have some really incredible, exciting scenes. I also had a lot of deep issues come up–from insanity to suicide to abortion. This was a rich universe with complex characters, and has been as much fun to write as to read.
I started sending the book around. I still got rejection letters, but these were more personal. Still, it took another ten years to find it a home, but I’m pleased as punch to have DragonMoon publishing it.
Don’t be afraid to tear apart an old story and rebuild it in a new way. You may surprise yourself at what you find.
Unlike her characters, Karina Fabian lives a comfortably ordinary life. Wife to Air Force Colonel Robert Fabian and mother of four, her adventures usually involve packing and moving, attending conventions, or giving writing and marketing advice in one of her many workshops. She’s always had an overactive imagination, however, and started writing in order to quell the voices in her head–characters who insisted on living lives in her mind and telling her their stories. Winner of the 2010 INDIE award, winner and finalist for the EPPIE and finalist for the Global e-book awards, she’s glad people enjoy reading the tales her characters tell.
Ydrel threw himself into wakefulness with such force that he sat up in bed. Still, the nightmare images clung to his mind: the beat of a hundred hearts, the smell of sweat and fear. He clutched his stomach and fought the urge to scream.
A hundred bodies crowded around him, crushing him against the splintered wood of the boxcar.
No, this isn’t real!
No room to move. No air to breathe. Suffocating. Drowning.
No, this isn’t me!
Confusion and fear. Fear the trip would never end. Terror of what waited at its completion.
NO! These aren’t MY memories!!
Ydrel threw up shaky mental barriers. The visions faded, just slightly. He forced his eyes open, drinking in reassurance from familiar objects.
He sat in bed, an oversized twin, backed up against pillows rather than splintered wood. Pre-dawn light shone softly through the blinds. On the nightstand, Descartes regarded him with one button eye. The only thing left from before his mother died, he’d slept with that bear until an orderly commented on his “abnormal attachment.” Since then it had stood watch over him instead, braced against the lamp. Even now, without any orderlies around, Ydrel resisted the urge to clutch it close to his chest, but he reached out to touch one tattered foot.
On the shelf beside the window sat a portable boom box, a gift from his first birthday here—his thirteenth. Five years ago, today. The maintenance man had disabled the volume control after Ydrel played it too loudly. Thereafter, he’d found other ways to block out the moans and occasional screams that penetrated the closed door. Happy birthday.
The stereo held up several books. He was studying them in case it called. He both dreaded and longed for the calls. Each episode only gave them more reason to keep him here, yet there was something as familiar and comforting about it as his old bear.
He turned his gaze to the far wall and the framed pictures of a nebula and the solar system by his half-empty closet. On his sixteenth birthday, he’d been allowed to decorate his room and he’d chosen those posters and a mild blue paint to replace the still–lifes and the institutional burgundy-and-pink color scheme. While it had been a relief to his eyes, it was also a constant reminder that they never intended for him to leave.
This is my room, he thought. In the asylum. Even after five years, he’d never call it home. He’d never give Malachai the satisfaction.
Calmer now, his mental barriers in place, Ydrel allowed himself to examine the vision that awakened him. Hundreds of bodies packed into a train car not suited for twenty. Most had traveling clothes, but had shed them against the heat. No room to move. The air was stifling and stale. No one knew where they were going. Some suspected, but said nothing. The destination was worse than the trip.
Ydrel sighed. Isaac was on the train to Dachau again.
Ydrel threw off the covers and dressed quickly in a blue t-shirt and jeans, socks and generic sneakers. Already Isaac’s projected fear was breaking down his mental defenses; Ydrel’s fingers trembled as he fumbled with the laces.
Once out in the corridor, he hastened to the old man’s room, forcing himself to keep his pace smooth, his face composed. Someone would stop him if he hurried or looked distressed, and any delay would be unbearable. As he walked he got into character. His stride lengthened; his face hardened. He held his hands relaxed but ready by his hips. When he got to Isaac’s door, he cast a wary look down the hall, then slipped in.
The old man lay on a standard hospital bed, his wide, wild eyes staring at the ceiling but focused on his inner horrors. His hands fluttered helplessly on the thin coverlet. He labored for each ragged breath.
Ydrel sat beside him and composed his own vision.
The train stops so suddenly that people would have been thrown down if they hadn’t been so tightly packed in. The sound of gunfire and shouts in German. The boxcar door opens with a rusty screech. Someone yells in Yiddish, then German: “Out! Now! Quickly, to the woods—to the south!” Relief from the press of bodies, then a new pressure as the flow of people pushes him through the door. Someone grabs his arm—
Ydrel grabbed Isaac by the arm as he pushed the new vision into the old man’s mind.
Isaac blinked, twisted toward Ydrel, then smiled, his eyes bright with tears. “Gideon! Old friend. Thank God!”