A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
It was November 2009. An angry girl called Jarra had just stomped her way into my head and ordered me to write her story. She lived in the twenty-eighth century, in a future when everyone used interstellar portals to travel between hundreds of colony worlds scattered across space. Everyone but the people like her, the one in a thousand born with an immune system that meant they could only survive on Earth.
As Jarra told me that story, a gaggle of other characters gradually joined her in my head. This wasn’t a short story, or even a novel, but a trilogy. EARTH GIRL, EARTH STAR, and EARTH FLIGHT. I knew I’d have those characters sharing their lives with me for years before I had to say goodbye.
It was Easter 2013. I’d had the characters of the EARTH GIRL trilogy in my head for nearly three and a half years while I wrote EARTH GIRL and EARTH STAR. They’d told me their hopes, their fears, their deepest secrets, and – in the case of Jarra – nearly deafened me in the process. Now the first draft of EARTH FLIGHT, the final book in the trilogy, was complete. It was time to say goodbye. Except it wasn’t.
It was autumn 2013. I’d been starting work on new projects, while also revising EARTH FLIGHT. Now revisions were complete, and it was time to say goodbye to the characters who’d been making themselves at home in my head for four years. It was time for them to pack their bags and head back to the future. Except it wasn’t.
It was Easter 2014. I’d been writing new projects, while dealing with the copyedit and proof stages of EARTH FLIGHT. Now the book was going to the printers ready for UK and Commonwealth publication. It was finally over. It was time to wave farewell to the characters who’d been telling me their stories for four and a half years, and watch them walk off into the twenty-eighth century sunset. Except it wasn’t.
It was summer 2014. EARTH FLIGHT had been published in the UK and Commonwealth. People could read the whole trilogy now, so it was definitely time for the characters who’d been dominating my thoughts for nearly five years to leave me in peace. Except it wasn’t.
It was Christmas 2014. I’d expected the characters of the EARTH GIRL trilogy to have left me by now, but instead we’d reached the five year mark in our relationship. The trilogy was complete, but a lot of readers had said they’d like to know more about the background of the other characters as well as Jarra. I knew all those characters intimately by now, and there were lots of things I wanted to say about them and their home worlds that hadn’t fitted into the trilogy. I’d been having fun writing a set of prequel short stories, each written from the viewpoint of a different character, and posting them on my website. Now the eighth and last of those stories was finished, and the New Year was an appropriate time to say goodbye. Except it wasn’t.
It’s now July 2015. The set of short stories ended up far larger than I expected, too large to keep posted on my website forever, so EARTH 2788: The Earth Girl Short Stories is now available as an ebook on Kindle worldwide. There’s also a prequel novella about Jarra, EARTH AND FIRE: An Earth Girl Novella, which will be available on Kindle worldwide at the beginning of August. It’s been nearly six years now, and it’s time for me to evict the characters that have been stubbornly refusing to leave my head. Except it isn’t.
On 8 September, EARTH FLIGHT will be published in the USA. With the trilogy available worldwide, that absolutely must be time for me to say goodbye to Jarra and her friends. Except that I’m perfectly sure it won’t happen, because the characters of the EARTH GIRL trilogy are still firmly ensconced in my head and telling me their stories.
The worst of this is that there are a lot of other characters in my head now as well. The characters of other books I’m writing. Frankly, my head is a dreadfully crowded place these days. Imagine a party that’s reached the point where people are falling out of the windows, and the neighbours two streets away are complaining about the noise.
You can find out more about my books on my website, and if you’re interested in what’s coming next then I recommend you sign up for my newsletter. The next thing will probably be another novella featuring an EARTH GIRL character, but I’m merely a humble scribe for the characters living in my head. Exactly what I write will depend on which of them shouts at me the loudest, and Jarra is extremely good at that.
The longest goodbye isn’t over yet.
Janet Edwards lives in England. As a child, she read everything she could get her hands on, including a huge amount of science fiction and fantasy. She studied Maths at Oxford, and went on to suffer years of writing unbearably complicated technical documents before deciding to write something that was fun for a change. She has a husband, a son, a lot of books, and an aversion to housework.
Find out more about her and her EARTH GIRL trilogy at www.janetedwards.com