2008 was a time of many changes for me, and very few of them were for the good. I had a good job with a large Telecoms company in Boca Raton, Florida. I had a small group of friends, some of whom I had known since moving from Germany to the US in 1998. We met on a regular basis to chat and play games and would gleefully discuss our successes and defeats in whatever online fantasy world had currently captured our attention.
Then everything changed. The Telecoms industry was not doing well, and two of us were laid off. I had been with the company in one form or another for over twelve years, and I had assumed I would be working there until I retired.
Even worse was to follow later that year, as one of our close group of friends passed away – far too young at only thirty years old. The company we all had worked for split into two parts, and the following year two of my friends moved with one half of it to Dallas. The circle of friends I had was broken.
The news on the economy was dire too – even with over twenty-five years of experience, finding a new job was going to be a challenge. With the redundancy money I had, plus savings from the last twenty years, I decided I could afford to take a break for a year or two and travel. I had always wanted to write a novel – it seemed like a wonderful opportunity to start afresh, to spend my time writing and travelling.
So that is what I did.
I hadn’t written much in many years, and I wanted a forum where I could practice and improve my skills with a supportive audience. I found a course on fiction writing from the Writer’s Digest that sounded promising, so I signed up. Our instructor was John DeChancie. The first weekly assignment he gave us was to come up with three ideas for a novel, and then to expand upon one of them. This was the result of my first assignment:
“A group of children with exceptional mental powers form a society in an abandoned tube (subway) tunnels and shelters under modern-day London. Calling themselves “The Misplaced”, they create their own social structure to help them survive the dangers underground. They share their underground home with a tribe of hostile rat-men, and with ghosts and living statues at an underground cemetery.”
The idea for “The Misplaced” had been born!