When I first read the opening chapters of Becca J. Campbell‘s Foreign Identity, they were a series of “waves” in the now-defunct Google Wave. Becca posted those chapters as waves in order to get feedback from several of us writers and creative types.
I don’t remember what the feedback was. I don’t remember at what point, one by one, we all dropped out of Google Wave. I don’t even remember when I last logged on before the whole kaboodle got shut down.
But I do remember — and vividly — how Becca’s story gripped my imagination.
Every time I read her latest scribblings, the mystery of it all ate at me. Why were these characters imprisoned? Why did they have amnesia? Who did this to them? I came up with all sorts of theories, both sci-fi-ish and fantasy-esque. I mentioned a few of them to Becca. Every bit the Mona Lisa, she just smiled and told me to wait for it.
Fast-forward almost two years, and my wait was over. Finally, I was getting to read the story as a whole. Not only that, I was getting to help edit it. But no, forget the editing part. I was finally getting answers to all these questions that’d plagued me for two years!
And as it turned out, none of my theories were accurate.
Foreign Identity is a fascinating read. The mystery is edge-of-seat worthy. The sci-fi is refreshing. The romance is heart-warming.
But have I mentioned how the questions will drive you nuts?!?
See the end of this post for where to read excerpts of Foreign Identity and how to win free copies!
Enough from me, though. Here’s Becca on how Foreign Identity came to be and how she, as a writer, solved its mystery even for herself.
Becca J. Campbell and Foreign Identity
At the time I was participating in a writing blog called The Creative Copy Challenge. The sole purpose of the blog is to provide ten words (twice a week) as a writing prompt, daring writers to come up with a short story or poem using all of the words.
Foreign Identity started with the ten little words in a post on April 20th, 2010. After the initial post, I continued writing the story on the CCC, adding to it twice a week. I followed the prompts the whole time, forcing myself to fit the words in. Sometimes they directed the story and other times I molded them to fit the story already in my head. More than half of the novel was written and published on the blog in serial form, one 1000 word (approximately) scene at a time. I wrote to a pretty big cliffhanger and then wrote the rest of the story in private, saving the final reveal for when I would publish the book.
When I wrote that first post I had no idea of the plot or where the story would lead. For me that made it fun and exciting to work on. I love mysteries and puzzles. So as a creative experiment, instead of starting Foreign Identity with an outline, I started with a problem and worked to find the solution.
Readers have commented on the thrill they felt when caught in the mystery of Foreign Identity and their attempts to try and solve the puzzle. Often writers don’t get to experience that same thrill of discovery with their own books. We usually have the end in mind before the journey even begins. And in a way, that didn’t seem quite fair. The mystery is what makes it fun. This was part of my motivation for starting how I did. (I have to say that it’s not an ideal way to write. I’ve since found that I prefer writing in a more thoughtfully organized method).
Once I’d decided to start with a problem, I needed to figure out what that problem would be. What situation could I throw a couple of characters into that would be complex and seem impossible? My answer was this: chain them up in a nondescript chamber and strip them of all their memories. And to top that off, leave them devoid of interaction with their captor and without any clue if they even had a captor.
Perfect. (Insert evil writer laugh.)
After that, it was just figuring out how to solve my poor characters’ dilemma. How would they escape? Once they did, what would be waiting for them? At that point I came up with a full back story and an elaborate scheme for why they might be in such a situation. But instead of ending the mystery then, I used clues that raised more questions than they answered. The television show Lost was a great example of how to write a properly suspenseful story without completely frustrating the viewers.
When you read Foreign Identity, you might feel the urge to figure out what’s behind it all, to put the puzzle pieces together. In fact, I hope you will. So far I’ve succeeded in mystifying most readers. In my mind that’s a good thing. I love stories that make me think, question, piece things together, and then end up with an unexpected twist. An enjoyable book is one that surprises me.
I’ve done my best to pull all of that together in Foreign Identity. I hope you will enjoy it like a thrill ride that takes you to unexpected heights and then brings you back to reality.
Read an Excerpt
Courtney here again! For your reading pleasure, Becca has posted a series of story excerpts. You can read the latest excerpt of Foreign Identity here!
For more of the story, get on board Becca’s Sneak Peek Blog Tour:
May 22nd – Melody with Words
May 23rd – Cover Analysis
May 24th – Write Me Happy
May 25th – Have You Heard My Book Review
May 26th – Court Can Write
May 27th – Yearning for Wonderland
May 28th – Catharsis of the Bogue
May 29th – Aaron Pogue
May 30th – Pen and Whisk
May 31st – Stormy Night Publishing