Of all my novels, Armageddon Girl took the longest to write. The version that made it out into the world was number four, that’s far more than my usual one. I’m talking about major rewrites here, not drafts and partial edits. Unusually for me, I didn’t keep those early documents but deleted huge sections and started again. Modern technology allows anyone who’s creating documents to save as many versions as they want, which is what I always do, with this one exception. So, most of this is going to come from memory.
I had the first idea for the book over fifteen years ago. It arrived in the form of a robot, a huge metal beast called a tiger. It had four arms covered in guns and gadgets and was bipedal. Why then, I asked myself, was it called a tiger? Not just because it had stripes, but because it could transform itself into a four-legged robot and move much faster. The tigers were the only thing to survive all the way through to the final draft.
Once the tigers had arrived, I started to think what they’d be used for. In what situations would being able to change shape offer an advantage. I could think of quite a few, and, as a sort of after-thought, I realised they could also be ridden like a horse, if you were careful. It was this more than anything that planted the seed that grew into this book.
In the first version I had a male protagonist and Thorne was nowhere to be found. The young man was alone and in trouble, until he stumbled upon a Tiger robot in an abandoned building. I wrote a complete if short novel, but decided it wasn’t working. This happened twice more, although I don’t fully remember what those versions were about, certainly along similar lines.
So, I set the idea aside for a while and concentrated on other things before having another go. This time I decided to use the old writers’ trick of swapping things around. Instead of setting it on Earth I moved it to another planet, instead of being alone the protagonist had a companion and was female and instead of one Tiger there were two. I thought more about the riding thing, and decided you’d have to be pretty desperate to ride such a metal beast. What if the protagonist had no choice and had to risk it?
Now I needed an antagonist, and, as I already had the robots, I decided to make the bad guy some form of technology. The colony, The Principal and the entire setting emerged from that one idea. The Goblins arrived shortly after, and I was really getting somewhere. Pierrot appeared as I was creating the chapter outline and I was ready to go. At this stage the space pirates had yet to show up. Once I’d completed the first draft, I realised I needed an explanation for The Principal’s malfunction. The pirates also provide human antagonists for Keesul to go up against.
After that it was all plain sailing. The writing flowed relatively easily from the chapter outline and finally I was somewhat happy with it. I’ll leave you with an amusing fact. The planet in the story isn’t named. I thought several times about giving it one, but I just never did.