The Roll Call World…what a wonder to write!

A Post-Apocalyptic, Sci-Fi Survival Trilogy…

Avery must confront three reluctant warriors…
…Raghill, Annalynn, and Morris…
…who accuse Avery of giving too much attention to war and not enough to corralling the aggressive asteroid menace. (Photo by Sherri M. Miller)

Haunted by the Roll Call story, I jumped into the post-apocalyptic universe only to find it totally empty. I asked the muse—who sat laughing on the edge of Jurbay—my imagined asteroid—“What’s up? You expect me to write a story and create a new world too?”  

Mischievous eyes captured my attention. She nodded and whispered, “Yes. Not only do I expect you to ‘write a story and create a new world too’ but the new world is your story.”

I scoffed at Glenda for a moment. (I’ve called my muse many things over the last nine years including “harbinger of death,” “the Whisperer,” “crazy,” “angel,” “imp,” “ass,” “friend”—until finally I gave her a name for the sake of this post. I’m calling her Glenda. (No—not the good witch of Oz. Just Glenda.)

By the time I’d finished scoffing Glenda and turned to face her again (sitting on the edge of Jurbay)—she was gone, and I needed to start living up to my commitment of writing a new-world-creation. I found that ideas, when creating a new world, could come from anywhere—and did.

For example, very early on in my slowly forming post-apocalyptic, sci-fi world—I entered a second-hand bookstore in a small historic town. Ooops!  I thought this was a new bookstore where I could scout current books in genres like the ones I was now writing. You know—what’s current in the market.

But no, these were used books that smelled like the old piano in my Uncle Ivan’s tack shop—the one no one knew how to play. “No thanks,” I murmured and turned to go. Then—I saw it. An old book that featured a dozen authors who were scientists. These were legit people—not the made-up-university-doctorate-degree types found in Google searches. These scientists were offering their predictions for fifty years in the future. Had to buy it.

Living on the pages of that book were catalysts that would prompt me to create the brain-swappers in Book #1. Little did I know new brain-swappers would appear in each book to follow in the trilogy. Some of those brain-swappers would eventually be instrumental to the climax of the trilogy. (No—that’s not really a spoiler-alert—it’s not enough info to give away anything!)

Creating the Roll Call world turned out to be more than a post-apocalyptic, sci-fi learning curve.

I love how ideas are born through unexpected avenues, and surprises are often found buried deep in unusual places—ridiculous circumstances. I hesitate to use the word destiny or the phrase divine appointment, but I have to admit there just might have been some of that hovering—guiding—tempting me to find the characters I fell in love with who led me to the plot that drove the Roll Call Trilogy.

My very comfortable genre until 2013 wrapped around stage plays and screenplays heavy with humor, plot twists, advocacy for justice, and light historical fiction. There was also a spattering of characters from the past and the future roving through some of the pages of my work.

What Glenda the muse taught me that day in 2013—in the middle of the empty universe—was that everything and everyone is a catalyst. Take a simple idea—a new world thought—a brain-swapper. Play with it. If you fiddle with it long enough—evolution begins. And the more you play—the bigger and more specific the new world becomes.

It has been my joy to learn how to play! It’s opened my eyes—and, hopefully, yours—to the ever-emerging world—the world of Roll Call.

Join me on my next blog post as I step out on the edge of the New Coastline, 2067. You’ll be surprised by what I find!

About Gwen Mansfield

Gwen Mansfield loves words, and the thought of a good story sends ideas capering through her mind until they sift into characters, settings, and plots. Roll Call, Book #2 in the Roll Call Trilogy debuted as Gwen’s first post-apocalyptic, sci-fi survival thriller, and the surprises she found on the pages made it impossible to say goodbye to Avery DeTornada and her comrades. So—Welcome Book #2, Inside The Third and Book #3, Reluctant Warriors. Characters drive the creative process of Gwen’ writing. She says, “I can’t escape the quirky characters who romp through the pages of my stories—I guess ‘cause I’ve had so many of them in my own life. Almost every week I discover someone whose idiosyncrasies are a trigger to a character in a still-to-be-written story. And then, there are those people who wander through my life on a regular basis. Through the eyes of others, they may seem quite ordinary, but the influence they’ve had on my life is extraordinary. They too are the catalysts my books are made of. My kids always say, ‘If you stick around long enough, you’ll end up as a character in one of my mom’s books.’” Author of the Roll Call Trilogy, the novel Experiment Station Road, the stage play Grace Diner, and the musical Resistance! (based on the book Tales of the Resistance by David and Karen Mains)—Gwen Mansfield continues to bring the creation of new worlds to her latest release, Reluctant Warriors, Book #3. Gwen is an early recipient of the New Harmony Project, finalist in Reverie Productions’ Next Generation of Playwriting Contest, and a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Historical Fiction. She holds a BA in Theatre from Seattle Pacific University, an MA in Theatre Production from Central Washington University, and an MFA in Creative Writing, Fiction from University of New Orleans. She lives in the forests of Washington with her family. “Maybe it’s only in my dreams that I’ve descended into post-apocalyptic danger, run from dystopian challengers, chased threatening asteroids, and climbed into a romantic relationship with my soulmate—but for my readers—I launch it on the page!”—Gwen Mansfield View all posts by Gwen Mansfield

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