• Sam Polakoff

The Challenged Writer

As a writer in the throes of my third novel, I find the need to strenuously challenge myself. Many authors find success by tagging on to their first novel, creating a series and taking the characters into new adventures for subsequent books. I respect that and I am not saying I’ll never do the same. However, when I consider the possibility of following up one of my first two stories, I ask myself, “When have I ever read a sequel that was as good as the original?” Many series use the same characters but maintain storylines independent of the preceding novels. I get that and as much as I love my own characters, I enjoy stretching my mind across new situations, people, places, and timelines. In my first novel, Hiatus, I dealt with a scientist creating the opportunity to preserve a deceased person and reawaken them once per year for twenty-four hours. In my second novel, Shaman, I dove into Akashic readings, reincarnation, and shamanism – in dual time frames. For my third novel, I am attempting to imagine the Earth 150 years in the future.

Having been a sci-fi fan all my life, it is easy to think about going everywhere with a jet pack, but the truth is, it is a lot harder than that. I began by thinking about the world 150 years in the past. I wanted to get a sense for what has changed. From there, I considered the pace of technology during the past 25 years and how much faster tech might proliferate in the future. And while I started writing this novel before anyone knew about COVID-19, one cannot ignore the obvious issue of a potential pandemic surrounding my chosen subject matter: overcrowding, illness, food and medicine shortages, overwrought health care systems and of course, global leadership to address problems that cut across all borders.

The new novel will be called Escaping Mercy. The plot centers around a marine biologist working to tie the solution to the world’s problems to the legend of a sunken civilization at the bottom of the Coral Sea. As an author, I am stretching my imagination, challenging myself as a writer, to envision everything 150 years in the future and how it got that way. Every element of the story must be thoughtfully addressed from transportation to underwater exploration and even autopsy procedures. As you might imagine, the latest project has been a challenge to write but hey, that’s what I signed up for!