On a trip to New Zealand in February 2015, I met an Australian couple on day 3 of a walk on The Queen Charlotte Track in the Marlborough Sounds. They were intrigued I had finished my first book and were full of questions I couldn’t answer. Their questions inspired the following explanation of the concept behind the Project Anan story and how I put it all together.
Where did the idea come from?
Working in the oil business, I experienced the ups and downs of supply and demand price swings and the shocks they exert on the industry. In 2014 we saw another one when prices fell dramatically. Then, they rebounded, only to fall again during the start of the pandemic – and bounce back again. A price chart of oil resembles the profile of a roller-coaster!
Energy sources are finite; when one source is exhausted, we look for another. The advent of shale oil and fracking processes is a testament to that. As a result, the world went from a hypothetical “Peak Oil,” when analysts supposed available resources had peaked, to a situation where there was so much oil produced, traders near filled all the available storage – from shortage to glut.
The variations in our energy supply gave me the idea for the Energy Exchange. What energy do the aliens need? Where does it come from? How is it controlled and traded? Is there more than one type? What powers their ships? Those are the questions I asked, and that set the scene for their energy consumption; like on Earth, their civilisation depends on a stable energy supply. I had that concept three years before I finally started to write it down. Part of my initial thoughts was, where do we get our intelligence? How it developed? Why we make great leaps forward at certain times in our evolutionary cycle and how our population exploded in the latter years of our development. Those thoughts were the inspiration for the underlying story and the tag “Our Ancestors are Back”.
Why New Zealand?
To give real life to a story of how aliens would return to Earth and renew contact with humans was a challenge. I tried to make it as close to project management ideals as possible. What were their requirements? Why would they come back to Earth? How would they choose their landing site?
A visit to my daughter in Christchurch, New Zealand, over December 2013 / January 2014 holidays provided inspiration for that process. Further travels in the South Island provided more inspiration, with one destination featuring as the concept design for the book cover.
Interestingly, the South Island, the larger of the two, has less than a quarter of the New Zealand population. The wide-open wildernesses are beautiful. I experienced more of them during subsequent visits. In 2015, I revisited the landing site where the story starts. It was important to me to make the opening chapter as real as possible. How would the aliens actually land? What type of a ship would they have? How would they perceive humans and Earth when they arrived? What would they think of our way of life, and who would they initially meet? I spent days walking in Christchurch researching the start of the story. My thanks to the staff at “Visualising Future Christchurch at Re:START” for your invaluable help with this.
How do you go from an idea to actually writing the book?
In May 2014, I started the story outline. I laid it out as I would any project concept with an initial start, foreseeable problems and a project goal to achieve at the end. The outline was always my go-to place when I finished a chapter. I was still working as a health and safety advisor and slowly wrote the first three chapters when I had available time. As I wrote, the problems of dialogue, dialogue tags, grammar and narrative surfaced. I researched on the internet. Days were spent tirelessly researching and writing as I also tried to balance the needs of my day job. In August 2014, I finally retired from full-time health and safety work and devoted more time to writing Project Anan. From then on, with encouragement from a close friend and my extended family, I continued writing Project Anan. The plot developed while the story changed and twisted as I wrote. I loved every minute of writing, finishing the beta version in January 2015. After many false starts, I first published Project Anan in September of 2015 on Amazon. Moving on, the idea developed into a trilogy – more about that later.
But I still don’t understand how you produce a legible quality product?
Yes, that was and still is a problem. My understanding of grammar is poor and so is my spelling. I sometimes don’t see written errors and will mix up words. The beta copy was full of mistakes. Getting it back from the editor was daunting.
“Where do I start?” was my first question. It seemed like there was a mountain to climb! It required another edit and a re-write by me. Finally, before publishing, Project Anan went back to the editor for proofreading. Then, after another round of reviews by my fried brain, it was off to The Scarlett Rugers Book Design Agency for formatting. And there were more rereads, edits and changes!
In February of 2015, one of the Australian couple I met warned me that there would still be mistakes after the proofread. She was right. Feedback on the storyline was good. Reviews were humbling in their praise, but a theme remained, the 2015 print suffered from errors!
After publishing Project Anan, and a short marketing campaign, I started books 2 and 3 of the Energy Exchange trilogy. Emersed in that storyline, writing book 2 and 3, running a family business and pursuing my joy of climbing took all my time — so I left Project Anan alone on Amazon until 2021.
Scarlett Rugers completed the original Project Anan book cover design and the first website. Her work was outstanding. I was delighted with the cover, the concept behind it and the website. She achieved all I wanted and more. Her questioning guidance spurred me to improve my abilities and to complete the trilogy. Along the way, The Scarlett Rugers Book Design Agency ceased trading. Scarlett, your help was inspirational, I thank you for that.
In 2021, I engaged a new copyeditor and separate book designer for Energy Wars. Following the learning from Jerico Writer’s copyedit (by Julia Hoyle) of Energy Wars, I returned to a rewrite of Project Anan. I didn’t change the original new author writing style, which is raw in places, but I combed the book for mistakes and tried hard to improve the readability.
Design for Writers, designed and launched this new website, refreshed Project Anan book cover and reformatted the book for its 2021 relaunch. They are true professionals and do outstanding work. So writing the book is just not enough. There is so much more to do after writing “The End”.
I hope you enjoy Project Anan; leave a review or drop me a line. It will shortly be followed by Energy Wars – two books in one – which concludes the trilogy.
Lionel Lazarus June 2021.