At last, the date for “The Phoenix Project” release is fixed — March 20!
Meanwhile, I’ve been absorbed in planning my next series. I still wanted to use some of the research I did while in Ireland, but I’m also fascinated by the progress of A.I. (Artificial Intelligence). So I’ve been doing a lot of research into that, and also into the details of how the brain works, since I think my main character is going to be a student studying cognitive neuroscience. (This will be related, I promise!) Here’s my basic approach that I’ve used for the last two series, and that I’m using for this one:
- Brainstorm an idea first
- Come up with broad strokes plot ideas (at least the main conflict and some vague idea of how it will be resolved)
- Start the outline
- Discover things I need to research as I go, based on the plot holes
- For the Piercing the Veil trilogy, I had to research:
- Quantum Physics
- Arthurian Legends
- The fall of the Roman Empire
- Greek Mythology
- For the The Liberty Box trilogy I had to research:
- Real-life spy tricks (how to escape from handcuffs, from a moving car, etc)
- Virology: what can genetic engineering do to manipulate it? Can you use a vector for one virus and insert the code of another?
- How do computer networks work?
- How can you build something that will interrupt a wireless electromagnetic signal using only what you might find in a typical home?
- How do you belay off a roof if all you have is a rope?
- For the current series I’m planning, I’m researching:
- AI: how advanced is it now? What can they already do? What are the next frontiers? What are the existential threats and potential benefits? What are the processes by which they are attempting to develop AGI (Artificial General Intelligence)?
- What does the research say about the nature of self-awareness? What is it?
- Why do people like what they like?
- The hyperloop: how does it work? What will it enable us to do?
- What new technology is on the frontier?
- What is creativity from a neurochemical standpoint?
One of my absolute favorite parts about planning a new series is that it gives me an excuse to learn about something completely new to me, but with an objective in mind of how I’m going to use the information.