A project that has fascinated me ever since I first got the idea for it is soon to be released by Dog Star Books (on June 20, but it’s available for pre-order now with a special offer for a free insert—see my previous blog post or click on the link.)
Temporary Planets for Transitory Days is an anthology of poems supposedly written by Mykol Ranglen, the main character from my two science-fiction novels, The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes and In a Suspect Universe (he’ll be the protagonist of at least two more books, one of which I have in draft already).
The poems relate to his experiences, some of which can be seen in the novels, biographical details of his life, his thoughts on what’s happening in his 22nd century,his feelings, his adventures, and the many wonders he’s seen in outer space.
This concept was exciting to me because, in the novels, Ranglen has always been tight-lipped about his emotions and his past. He’s not very revealing in either his dialogue or his private thoughts. Whenever I wanted to open him up a little, he seemed, uncannily, to shut me down, saying, “No, sorry, not yet.” So maybe these very personal poems were waiting inside both of us, brewing, cooking.
And here’s the clincher: I found that revealing him in poetry was much easier than in prose. (Or maybe, rather, he’s more revealing in poetry than in prose. It does get peculiar at times, as if you’re dialoging with your own created character.)
But do be aware that he still can be obstinate. He maintains a number of mysteries, and he maybe even adds to them. Yet a reader will know a lot more about Ranglen and his interstellar worlds after reading the collection, his ties to different planets, his reactions to the past, his hidden interests, the deeper parts of his personality, his emotions, doubts, dreams, fears, and his loves. Many notions raised in the previous books are clarified—and a number of further questions are introduced. Some poems, seen only in fragments in the two books, are here presented in their complete forms. So aninteresting and stimulating connection among all three works can sometimes be seen (and I even made a few ties to the novel I’m writing now). You don’t need to have read the first two books to follow the poems since the anthology stands completely on its own. But the works do enrich each other and thus give the reader a deeper view of Ranglen himself.
Incidentally, the preorder giveaway deals with these connections between the books, illustrating a particular tie by showing both a passage from the novel and several lines from the poem.
So, all in all, I do recommend trying this experiment. If your main character is a bit too reticent and tight-lipped with you, then maybe write some poems from that character’s point of view. It unearths and stimulates the viewpoints the character might not want to share, and you might then even learn the reasons why the person is so reluctant.
The anthology was a true pleasure to write, an exploration, a creative quest. I’ve never felt so close to, or so lost in, a created character. It’s been intriguingto plot out the byways of the man’s past—and how he’s dealt with it—as well as his longings and hopes for his future. And equally intriguing how he would express them, what he would say, the words he’d use.
I can’t wait to share it!
The book will be released by Dog Star on June 20, but you can pre-order it now and receive a copy sooner.