Back in 2014 I spent a lot of time travelling for work and inevitably I sat around airports and hotels for hours. Too much time was wasted looking at overpriced belt buckles in airport shops and watching hotel movies, there was little else to do except for work. An idea had however started to form, an idea that would later turn into my first short story. It was about combining quantum entanglement and relativistic time dilation on space flights. The idea had come to me while listening to science podcasts like The Naked Scientists, The Star Spot, Star Talk, Big Picture Science, Nature podcast and several other similar shows. I have always been interested in science, space travel and physics so this was what I was listening to when relaxing.
I started writing the story Entangled in hotel rooms and airports and finished it in the summer of 2014. The style was inspired by authors such as Greg Egan (especially his short story collection: Axiomatic), Isaac Asimov and Neal Stephenson. The science and technology was very much at the centre of the story. Without the science part, there would be no story. In fact, the story switches between telling what is going on and exploring the technicalities of the science behind it. I tried to write the kind of story that I would like to read.
After finishing Entangled I promptly sent it to the biggest science fiction magazine I knew of expecting them to roll out the red carpet for me. How could they not? My story was positively brilliant.
Months went by without a reply and I thought that I should write another. I had an idea for a more humorous story. A murder mystery set on a generation ark. Sounds like fun, right? I finished The Forgetting a few months after Entangled and sent that to a different science fiction magazine. A few months later I got a polite response from the editors of the first magazine thanking me for sending the story, but it wasn’t quite right for them right now.
Still, I was off, and another two short stories had formed in my mind while I waited for replies for the different magazines. One of them came to me as an idea while driving home from work one day. The idea was so complete and powerful that I had to stop the car at the next gas station and just sit there for fifteen minutes planning everything out in my head. I went home and wrote Indefinite Hiatus in two days.
The other story was slow and arduous. I struggled with the characters and the plot. After much sweating over the keyboard I finished the first draft of Zero Sum. I read it through from end to end and promptly re-wrote the entire thing.
I was also accumulating rejection slips from editors. All my stories had been rejected so far. Some editors took an extraordinarily long time in responding. Entangled was sitting with a literary magazine for a year and a half at some point. Their reply came back with a detailed critique of the story. They said they really liked it but could I tone down the science a bit and put some more character building stuff in there please? They even said that they would like to see a re-write of the story and would consider publishing that. I thought about following their advice and rewriting the story to something less sciency, but decided against it. Instead I was going to look for a market where the science was appreciated.
In the meantime, I had written a flash fiction story called Saving Andie, just 400 words about a sentient robot and gender perception. I sent it to 365tomorrows.com who publishes a short science fiction piece every day of the year. I remember sending it on the 23rd of January and waking up next morning to an email saying they accepted the submission and the story was already up on the site. My first thing ever to be published. Hurrah! After the story had been published, I sent it to the flash fiction podcast No Extra Words and they also accepted it for publication in audio format.
2016 was when publication speed started to pick up. Two of my stories won honourable mentions in the Writers of the Future contest, and a short story of mine called In a Stranger Space was included in the print and digital anthology The Martian Wave 2016.
Towards the end of 2016, Entangled was again free to be submitted after 580 days sitting with an editor. I had started to read a new science fiction magazine called Compelling Science Fiction which right away looked like the perfect home for Entangled. Compelling Science Fiction specializes in hard science fiction where the science is well explored and technically detailed. Perfect!
I sent them Entangled and a month later – on my birthday – got confirmation that they would like to buy the story. Instead of re-writing the story to fit other magazines, I had found a magazine that appreciate the story for its true nature.
Entangled comes out in Compelling Science Fiction in February 2017. You will be able to read this story online for free, but I encourage you to support the magazine (and subsequently the authors) by subscribing through Patreon. It is just $3.60 per issue, which is well worth your money.
From the summer of 2016 I have also been working on a novel. This is a very different task from writing short stories since it requires much more planning and research. I struggle to find the time to work on it but it is slowly coming together. I plan to finish the novel in the first half of 2017 and spend the second half finding a publisher for it.
I still write short stories and in 2017 I hope to publish as many of them as possible. My goal is to have 10 stories published by the end of the year and in 2018 collect them into an anthology.
Happy New Year!