Every tale has its genesis. For DARK WATER'S EMBRACE, ground zero was a book entitled THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A DRUID PRINCE by Anne Ross and Don Robins. The true story of the discovery of a bog body in England in 1984 and the subsequent archeological investigation it set off, this book intrigued me. The image of a human explorer uncovering an alien bog body on another world first started to emerge.
Somewhere around the same time, I'd gotten into a conversation regarding sex and sexuality, and how, well, alien males and females sometimes are, and I wondered somewhere in that conversation what a third sex might be like... It was something I'd touched on (very briefly and very peripherally) in an earlier novel, CRYSTAL MEMORY. But the speculation remained with me even after the conversation was long forgotten, and the epiphany came that the alien bog body haunting that scene in my mind should be this mythical third sex.
From two disparate sources, then, came a first scene, and the hint of what it all meant: an alien bog body, neither male nor female, which held a secret to the survival of the humans who found it.
That image, that scene, was the foundation of DARK WATER'S EMBRACE. At the moment, of course, I didn't have the title, didn't know what that secret might be, didn't know anything about the aliens or the humans who found it. All I had was the starting point.
I wrote the scene -- it still exists (greatly changed) as the scene where the bog body is first found. But a scene is not a story. I had a glimpse of a world, but to continue I had to know a hell of a lot more about it. To fully see a new world, there's a mantra I try to follow:
What's that mean? Look, I know that science fiction and fantasy are built on the idea that the reader will bring to the story a 'willing suspension of disbelief.' But even though the reader will accept, for instance, an alternative history novel set in 1997 where Germany won the Second World War in 1943, everything else that follows from that acceptance must be logical and consistent. You can't just transplant the real 1997 and have no changes in technology, in politics, in economy, in cultural behavior, in the way people speak and interact.
It means There Has To Be A Reason to get to that first scene I'd just finished writing: the characters had to have a history which led them there. There Has To Be A Reason for the humans to even be digging in the peat bog. There Has To Be A Reason that the story of the aliens resonated with the plight of the humans (whatever that plight might be, which also has to have a reason) . There Has To Be A Reason evolution would come up with the scheme to use three sexes rather than the more usual two.
I had lots of questions to answer, but I knew that answering them would allow me to tell the story I wanted to tell.
To me, the biggest questions was: why three sexes? Obviously, there had to be a reason. But what...?
TO MOVE ON, CLICK ON THE "REASONS" STONE BELOW.