Last week, I signed the contract for Mind Over Mind, a fantasy novel. At 13, Deryl manifested telepathic powers. Not only could he not control them, but it put him in contact with aliens. The effect drove him insane. Five years later, he's fought his way to an uneasy sanity, but has no hope of leaving the mental institution or uncovering the mysteries behind his power or the aliens that use it to manipulate him.
When 19-year-old Joshua Lawson takes an internship at the mental institution, he's asked to befriend the sullen Deryl. Joshua however, has no plans to be a "high paid buddy." He wants to cure Deryl--and he intends to start by taking him at his word.
As the two work to control Deryl's abilities and understand the creatures that contact him, WHAT
I wrote this book in college. Twice. The first time, I had an elaborate outline I'd spent all summer on--then promptly lost the first week at school. After some angry tears, I decided it was mostly junk anyway, and started again. That one I finished in a year and started sending off to publishers. (I cringe at those query letters now.) It got lots of rejections, so I finally put it away and got on with life. (This was about 1990.)
In 2000, I decided I wanted to try a novel again, so I found the manuscript, read it over and gagged. What a difference a decade made! In that manuscript, Deryl was a cool, happy-go-lucky college student getting a PhD in paranormal studies--and Joshua was a farmboy studding agriculture. Basically, I hated them on sight. I loved my alien woman, though, and the plot. So I decided to rewrite.
First, I gave Deryl some problems. That was easy once I realized what it would really mean to have telepathy with no off switch. ALWAYS knowing people's thoughts. ALWAYS feeling people's feelings. Not just one person--EVERY person in a given range. Can you imagine being in a classroom with 25 hormonal boys when the knockout substitute teacher walks in? I did-and it's not pretty. It's beyond embarrassing--it's scary.
Next, I gsve my alien a clearer agenda, especially in regards to Deryl, and let him go to work. I actually disturbed myself with how dark my imagination could get.
Finally, I took my lovely alien heroine, gave her some problems of her own as well as a far greater purpose in life. That's when she told me she was one of many of her kind--that Miscria was not her name but her position--and that several Miscria had contacted Deryl. Even better, they didn't know Deryl was a person--they thought he was an oracle!
Cool, well-adjusted college kid? I don't think so. I feel a little sorry for how I tortured him, but what a better story!
So, what to do with Joshua? "Corn-fed hick" didn't work anymore, so I made him the intern. As it turns out, he's the cool, charismatic one. He also told me he's Black, homeschooled, a gifted musician and dancer, and that he has a shady past he's running away from. Oh, yes--he would fall in love with an older woman, a nurse, in the story. Well, you know me: when a character tells me something, I write it!
The book became a trilogy. I love it. Of course, I shopped it around for several more years, tweaking it as I went. I first ended the first book on a cliffhanger, for example, but changed it to have closure while leaving room for the next book. The title also changed from The Miscria, to Asylum Psychic, and now to Mind Over Mind.
Finally, after 22 years from the first submission and 10 years of submitting the current version, Mind Over Mind is going to go into print. Perseverance does indeed pay. I hope it will "pay" you readers as well as me.