The reason is almost embarrassingly shallow: I needed a location near the equator, because otherwise a space elevator doesn’t work. So I was spinning around a globe, scanning all the places exactly on the equator, but my eyes were drawn down to Darwin instantly. The title “The Darwin Elevator” flew into my brain and knew it was the right choice despite being a little off the line. I liked it partly because of the extra connotation the name brings, and partly because it’s a great melting-pot location: an English speaking population that, in the backstory, is flooded with refugees from all of its varied neighbors. Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, India, New Zealand, and so on. There’s tons of variety in that corner of the world and that appealed to me.
In two ways. First, as a game designer my job was to create essentially the blueprint for a game. Typically this took the form of a gigantic "game design document" which would be handed off to programmers and artists, in theory telling them exactly what they should build in order to create the game as envisioned. For me this experience applies directly to the planning process for writing a novel. I outline like crazy, and do a fair amount of character development and world-building exercises up front.
This allows me to go into the writing process with a solid plan, but much like how things work in the game business, the plan has to be flexible. It has to live and breath just like the manuscript.
The second way game design taught me was how to handle the publication process. Working with editors, marketing folks, even beta testers (proofreaders in the book world) were all things I'd been through before, and so my expectations were pretty much set and proved to be spot on. I can see how it would be tough for some debut novelists to handle all these types of things, especially when all they really want to do is write.
Ah.... well, the quick answer is that I'll start writing it as soon as my publisher asks me to. Soon, let's hope!
The longer answer is this: Zero World was originally intended to be a standalone book, and that made sense as it occupied a single slot in my 3 book contract (the other two being Injection Burn and Escape Velocity). As I was writing, though, it became clear to both myself and my editor that this could expand in to something much bigger, and I was given the okay to write it with a more open ending. In hindsight, I shouldn't have done this without a commitment (in the form of a contract) for at least one sequel. Lesson learned!
As things stand right now, Zero World will get a sequel as my publisher asks for one, or as soon as they definitively decline the project, in which case I'll have the option to do it on my own -- a definite possibility.
The good news is I've got the sequel all plotted out, and can start writing the minute I get the go-ahead.
I'd be a palm tree. No branches for critters to climb on, and I could hang out on the beach 24/7. Sounds pretty nice to me.
In what is rapidly becoming my favorite ComicCon, I'm happy to report I'll be back at PHXCC this year!