So, You’ve Written Your First Novel, Robert P. Fitton
Updated: Sep 25
(Non-Star Trek Novel that is)
Fitton in the day
Squeaker and the portable typewriter
Me write a novel? Say what? I’m just out of school… just a kid. The world is a big place with lots of high rollers and talented people. I had always been creative but write a novel… Are you kidding me? I come from a middle-class background where it was a big deal that my brother and I graduated from college. In retrospect I think that my doing exceedingly well in school gave me the boost to think I the ability to do well.
At the time I was working unhappily in retail. My job friends were great, and I enjoyed that but to make a decent living I wanted to be in outside sales. Here’s the secret I carried with me during my sales career. Once I began writing that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I thought I could do numerous things at once and that writing would surpass my sales career. Wrong. Yes, I could juggle many things in the air at once but not proficiently.
So, it’s the end of 1977 (Star Wars is all over the place) and I’m living in off campus housing in Amherst Massachusetts. I’m eking out a living in retail… So why oh why did I beginning pounding the Smith Corona portable’s keys? It wasn’t to smile at my cats. The need to create was there.
I had and have a crazy personality imitating people and doing voices. But other things were happening at this time. During this time it was clear that my dad was terminally ill. He would not be able to enjoy his retirement after a long life with a good work ethic. I realized that writing was something I enjoyed doing and I was cognizant of how short life can be.
You know life can be long And you got to be so strong And the world, she is tough Sometimes I feel I’ve had enough
–John Lennon-from “Imagine.”
The hell with not doing this. 1977-79 was the time to begin. Although very ill my dad read some of what I wrote with the comment: “You made this all up?” Now, maybe that doesn’t sound like a literary critic but for me it was an affirmation. And my mother… hocking my book around town. Nobody around me said don’t waste your time. I had the support from people who mattered.
Doris and Ken in 1977
I was always enamored by outer space and the space program. I gazed in the heavens on cold winter nights with my 3X telescope. I even took an elective a few years before at UMASS and went wild looking and listening to the radio telescope signals from the University’s radio telescope up in the hills.
I read Science Digest every month and thought Isaac Asimov was certainly super human with his incredible knowledge. But then came Cosmos and Carl Sagan’s personal voyage around the universe and proliferating scientific knowledge of planet earth.
When I wrote the Star Trek novel, The Apex of Power, I had the template from the TV show and several books from Gene Roddenberry, David Gerold and a handbook of science fiction by Asimov. And I had taken a semester long course on science fiction at UMASS. Early on I watched many science fiction movies including Forbidden Planet, Invaders from Mars, the Blob, the Day the Earth Stood Still, and War of the Worlds to list a few.
As a Baby Boomer I’m part of the first generation to be brought up on television. And with that wave came The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, On Step Beyond, Captain Midnight, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and Lost in Space.
Okay, so all those shows and movies are floating around inside my head in late 1977 into 1978. The template of the hidden project and the president getting involved as one man saves his town and the world is always a common theme in movies. I found myself caring more about Pulanski once he tried to save the world from Dr. Richards. However, the way he went after Charley Stevenson in the beginning was not smart but commendable that he would go after his friend’s attacker. I wished I had gone deeper in to descriptions and characters. I created a book called The Red Light District, the name clearly signalling nefarious interactions. It is quite a stretch to believe that one man could runaway with the project in the sandstone cliffs in Red stone, Arizona. If you’re watch a forty-eight minute TV show you could get away with it
Route 66 in 1971
California Spring Break Vacation
Having been brought up in Massachusetts I had never seen a landscape like those red cliffs!
Jim Jones: definitely in the cornfield
Dr. Richards as the manical scientist is a direct result of Jonestown and over 900 people following their leader to death. The delusional Richards is interesting because not not too far removed from Jonestown. Pulanski seeking justice for his murdered friend and then getting mired in the shenanegains of the Hudson Project could have been compressed for smoother flow but it’s acceptable.
A president book is difficult to write said my agent.
The presidential part of this book is the best part. It has tension, excitement, and a sense of consequence. And have Joe Pulanski at Camp David in the middle of the God-awful project unfolds the book nicely There is not a profound meaning because Richards is a little over the top but it’s all neatly tied up in a big Christmas bow in the end. As I have done with other early efforts, adding the audio and sound effects upgrades the work. And it’s a freebee.