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Behind the Book: Project Enterprise: The Short Stories

The (mostly) true story of the writing of the short stories

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Welcome to “Behind the Book” Friday (until I run out of books to go behind). Today I’m interviewing myself about Project Enterprise: The Short Stories. Even though there are two of them, I’m expecting this to be a short interview. We live in hope, right? 

First, let’s look at what the stories are about:

The journey continues for the Project Enterprise Series. Two complete stories that feature guest appearances that you don’t want to miss. 

First up is “Men in Jeans.” 

Richard Daniels thinks life can’t get any stranger than working at Area 51 until he gets assigned to find out where Houston area SF writer, Jilly Smith, gets the ideas for her books. Should be an easy assignment—if it weren’t for the dead guy in Jilly’s backyard and the non-business related ideas she’s giving him. 

And then dive into “Steam Time” to find out what happened to the mysterious (and sometimes bad guy) Dr. Smith. 

Tobias Smith hadn’t planned to ride along with Dr. Everly and his Medicine Show, but they were heading in the same direction – Marfa. During the journey, Tobias quickly uncovers another surprising revelation – that Everly’s ‘son’ is not who ‘he’, or should he say ‘she’, appears to be! Tobias soon discovers he might not be as bad as he thought – in a good way – when he and Ani find themselves bumped into an alternate reality complete with an automaton gang and airships. 

Could Tobias be the hero, save the day and get the girl? Stranger things have happened in the award-winning Project Enterprise universe! Ride along as two mysteries are solved and hearts are changed!

And now let the interviewing begin:

Me: “Men in Jeans” wasn’t the first short story you ever wrote, but…

Myself: …it was the first short story written, I guess you’d call it on demand. Our local writers’ group was putting together an anthology. I hadn’t planned to submit to it because I wasn’t writing short fiction at the time, but a friend persuaded me to give it a try. The theme of the anthology was mysteries set in Houston. I don’t remember the exact timeline, but I was writing science fiction romance, not cozy mysteries. But my brain did a “what if?

Me: Your brain does that a lot. This particular “what if” produced something interesting that is a sort of side fact to your larger series, is it not?

Myself: It is. In The Key, there is a plot twist about where my mysterious Garradians went when they abandoned their various outposts. “Men in Jeans” takes that premise and creates a small murder mystery with a guest appearance from a favorite character from The Key. 

Me: We had fun with that story.

Myself: We did. I have always liked the contrast of the ordinary with the…

Me: …quirky?

Myself: Yeah, the quirky. 

Me: Speaking of quirky, let’s talk about “Steam Time,” your quirky story with the almost paralyzing boring title. 

Myself: [laughs] Yeah, we should probably come up with a better name.

Me: Um, I think we tried at the time.

Myself: And we failed. Maybe we should have a contest? 

Me: That might work. In the meantime, let’s talk about how this story came to be and what was going on behind the scenes.

Myself: Well, as anyone who has stuck with me and read these interviews knows, I originally planned to end Project Enterprise with Kicking Ashe, which I mostly did. But there was this tiny dangling thread of a story around the character of the nefarious Dr. Smith. I’d already mixed a little bit of steampunk—

Me: A little bit?

Myself [annoyed glance at me] Okay, some steampunk into the series. If I remember right, this story also started with an anthology invite. I think. I kept thinking, what can I do and I thought about Dr. Smith and I’d done a lot of research for Tangled in Time and I hadn’t half used it all and I was thinking about Marfa and what a fun, quirky place it was and how I’d like to set a story there…

Me: Your brain was quite the mess. What made you fix on the old West Marfa?

Myself: Well, honestly, I wanted to have an automaton outlaw gang. LOL

Me: [refers back to ‘quite the mess’ comment]

Myself: As soon as I know my time frame, and that it would obviously be an alternate reality steampunk story, this vision formed inside my head of an old-time traveling medicine show and my heroine Ani was sitting by the fire looking at a mysterious stranger. 

Me: You used the Marfa lights, too, didn’t you?

Myself: I used everything but the kitchen sink. Lol I had a bucket of fun. It’s not a “typical” steampunk story, but mine never are. Lol

Me: Well, on that high note, let’s wrap this interview up until the next time. 

I’m almost afraid to ask if you’re enjoying my interviews of myself because neither of us can handle negative feedback. Lol If you missed the excerpts on Monday, here’s a link. And I hope you’ll check back. I’m featuring all things Project Enterprise in the run-up to the release of Project Enterprise 7!

Perilously yours,

Pauline

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