In 2001 I began a serial space opera called Ramaxia. Set in a star system like ours, it was a dino-sapien political and imperial dynastic drama with matriarchal intrigue born of religious differences. I put this I Claudius meets Walking with Dinosaurs on hold in 2003 and began writing fan comics with an artist friend from Poland. Self-publishing fanwork was fun and exciting, but the process took me away from creating original content. When my stories began to eclipse the fan characters, I began writing original scripts for manga-style graphic novels.
In 2005 I had some work published by Class Comics in Canada, Yaoi Press, DramaQueen, & Iris Print in the US, and in Germany by Fireangels Verlag and Cursed Side Publishing. After self-producing my last graphic novel in 2012, I took a job at a bank to get rid of my debt (trust me, when you produce your own comics and attend conventions on your own dime, you accrue some debt). While working, the Japanese-style comics market stateside went into a slump. I returned to writing prose and one day cracked out the Ramaxia scripts, along with some other things.
Now pay attention, this how Femitokon was born.
My feminist sensibilities, combined with odd experiences in the world of fandom, didn’t allow for a main plot trope I’d indulged in while writing Ramaxia (male pregnancy just doesn’t work!). Deflated, I put Ramaxia aside, and dug out a few of my unsent DC Comics submissions.
The first of them was a series set in the world of Batman Beyond. I called it ‘Beyond Wonder’ (original, I know). My character, the daughter of Wonder Woman and Superman (this was the secret to her power), was a morally ambiguous soldier in the United States Navy (future-tech mind you). When the New 52 obliterated any possibility of polishing Beyond Wonder for submission, I held on to the idea of a soldier hiding in the shadow of her mother, and resenting the relationship.
Another DC-oriented idea of mine, a mini-series called ‘Crossing the Rubicon,’ featured a retiring Amanda Waller putting together a team of toughs to protect her from the Justice League. Her team is an Amazon that lost her faith (Phillipus), a misunderstood hero (Cass Cain), a super-strong amnesiac (Little Barda), and an anti-heroic upstart (Rose Wilson). Waller trains them, earns their loyalty, and talks the geneticist daughter of Lucius Fox (Tye Fox – my creation) into fusing their souls (I called them operative energies) as one, to create a being called ‘the Goddess.’ Again, the New 52 kicked this series’ ass before it even started.
In May of 2007, I began writing a short horror story about a bunch of Russians that bore through to Lake Vostok and inadvertently awaken a race of engineered humanoids. As I researched the possibility of my slumbering race, I developed a cyberorganic brain named FEMARPAX. Femarpax created my subglacial ladies from the DNA of an ancient civilization and kept them sleeping in their pods in Lake Vostok. The Femarpax made countless generations but destroyed them before they woke, waiting for the planet to again reach full glaciation. The Russians at Vostok break through the ice and wake them up before she can destroy them; they attack the humans and eventually destroy her. As I typed out a fake timeline explaining how the Femarpax came to be, I created origin stories for the humanoids, many stolen from my unused Ramaxia epic. Fleshing out the awakened, they took on lives of their own, and I gave them a name: Femmar.
When I created a language for the awakened, the FEMARPAX became a cyber neural intelligence called the Femaki’xirpaxul. I spent my nights creating stories about the descendants of the awakened, and my favorite was a Tenth Generation subject named Sofita. Sofita was an unwilling heiress; she had a dead twin that was loved more than she was (hat tip to Caroline Monaco and her Niklas Synn scenario), and fellow peers she let down by walking away from her destiny. Fellow heirs, Eppis, Laxum, Pitana, Velto, and Fyla, soon took on lives and personalities of their own. I created their mothers, and in effect, their grandmothers because complicated, tragic, and crazy, aren’t spontaneous.
By the end of 2009 I had enough of a world, and characters, to start weaving together my many short stories. I hammered out what would be Sofita’s mission to Jungwa (then Chinasia), in two months. More stories came after I quit comics altogether in 2012; writing this series brought me joy, I didn’t mind being out of the blogosphere because I was psyched to be writing again. Connecting these stories formed into character arcs spiraling down toward a common ending. The first, second, fourth, and fifth novels became one big ass book that I managed to finish a first-draft of by mid-2013.
My misplaced desire for attention got the better of me, and I made a series-pitch to 47 North. They replied with an offer based on what they’d seen of my outline, and that put me in the zone. Just as things were moving along, my Dell laptop did an unprompted rewrite and destroyed everything I had written. I was devastated. I had backed up my written Bible to digital (I love you WordPress), but failed to back up the manuscripts I’d written. Over 325,000 words were gone, just like that. After much crying, screaming, and soul-searching, I quit my day job at the bank, and focused solely on rewriting my series.
I spent every day of 2014 cannibalizing my space opera Ramaxia, picking apart my DC ideas Beyond Wonder and Rubicon and transcribed all of the dialogue I’d written longhand. Using the bible I’d been smart enough to keep at WordPress, I wrote seven hours a day, five days a week, for almost three years. I rewrote the novels I had lost; and finished first-drafts for all but the series finale (now a WIP).
In summer 2016, we moved back to Pennsylvania, from Texas. It took me away from writing and editing for over four months. I got a script hack job at a production company to cover some expenses in our future (kid going to college – house purchase). I came back to the nets with gusto, and naturally my ego and need for recognition got the better of me; I tried shopping what I had (first drafts, bible, and outline) to agents before the series was truly ready. I’m a yutz. I managed to get some knowledge of the current paying market, and I got some great feedback. Taking some well meaning advice, I decided to release the Femitokon Series on Patreon.
So that’s the story of Femitokon!