I’ve done occasional posts on my Facebook author page about the things that happen behind the scenes. Call it the story behind the stories. I thought I’d collect those here so I’d have them in one place and can add to them as I go. So, if you enjoy the inside track – here it is without having to scroll through a million memes to find them. Some of these bits found their way into the marketing material, so if it sounds familiar, good. That’s brand recognition. Waste not, want not. If you’d like a Behind the Scenes for a particular story, hit me up on the FB page and I’ll put something together.
A Nest of Stars
A NEST OF STARS originally started as a short story titled “Wages of Sin” for a different project. During a session in the writers group I participate in, I decided to rewrite “Wages” as a Salvage story and submit it to Kevin Steverson to see if it would make the cut for “IT TAKES ALL KINDS” – the first of two then upcoming anthologies planned in the Salvage Title Universe.
Wages, while it showcased a few pieces of the tech that made it into NOS (because I’m a gadget geek) was written as a love and revenge story with a much tighter focus on the relationship between Rath and Merry, along with the other members of the 7DS.
Kevin pinged me a few days later and said he liked the story and would take it with some minor revision, or I could turn it into a book and write a different short for the anthology. I loved the universe Kevin had created, so I jumped at the chance.
Knowing I wouldn’t be able to produce both a novel and a short on the timeline I had with my other commitments, I was going to beg off on the short to work on the novel, but with the second anthology “IT TAKES MORE KINDS” already planned, luckily for me there was room in the schedule for the later submission.
The majority of world building in NOS came out of the conversion from a short into a novel. The development of the alien races, the cultures of the Futaba, and Votha, and especially the Xoth’tar had copious notes I’d made while working on “Wages” that I now had space to explore. All moved out of the shadows into spotlights of their own.
The political situation in the Benthi Federation and the Human/Grumlahl alliance set the stage using techniques I’d learned in Kevin Ikenberry’s classes on story structure and worked on with Mark W Stallings when we wrote PRODIGAL SON.
Finally, I turned in NOS on deadline but really late at night, being something of a night owl. The next morning, in addition to a list of revisions I got the Kevin Steverson signature line. “Great story. Now you owe me a trilogy.”
It Takes More Kinds
Whatever Happened to Charlie Biggs?
When I started writing the anthology submission for IT TAKES MORE KINDS I had already finished A NEST OF STARS. On one of the edit read throughs, I noticed I’d failed to close the arc for a minor character in the action on Benth Orbital. Charlie was the kind of character that fills a need, but in the context of the novel, didn’t have (or need) a story of his own. The more I thought about it though, the more I wondered what had happened to him. I wanted to do an intersecting short for ITMK, and an exploration of how the events in NOS turned Charlie’s life upside down presented a great opportunity to fill in the blanks.
A Charlie Biggs Christmas…
One bit of trivia about Charlie Biggs was that it originally had a different cover I’d put together myself. Here’s a view of the original along with the Santa version.
I got both the new and holiday covers from Jamie Ibson at Ibson Writes, with the Santa cover especially for a Holiday ad.
And Then It Got Weird
When I first started writing HOLLOW THREATS, it was one of those stories that literally jumped out onto the page. I had no idea where I would submit the story. I was fortunate to get an invite to Jamie Ibson’s WE DARE series and was going to submit there, but after a particularly infamous zoom call (there may have been alcohol involved) AND THEN IT GOT WEIRD appeared like a fever dream and I was all in. The other Authors on the project were a terrific group of folks ready to get their weird on, and the rest, as they say, is history.
HOLLOW THREATS crossed a lot of boundaries, several genres, slathered on the pop culture, threw in some Easter eggs, and then painted the whole with a Lovecraftian wash, darkly. The only sacred cows got picked up by the aliens, and well, we all know how that shows up in the news.
In short it was kind of what the inside of my head is like most days. The elevator pitch was “This is what you get when William Gibson, HP Lovecraft, and Mickey Spillane get together at a strip club, drop acid, and then talk stories.” And it was a hell of a lot of fun. If you are looking for a read that makes you go “Oh, that’s not right.” You will find one in ATIGW.
You’ll get to visit with Irv and Shoggs again in the next story – SHOGGOTH ON THE RUN.
Among the Embers
What Goes Around
In writing WHAT GOES AROUND I was excited to bring a version of one of my favorite places into Christopher Woods’ THIS FALLEN WORLD Universe – The Devil’s Head fire lookout tower.
It’s a place I’ve been many times over the years, with a great hike, and at the end a spectacular view, and all accompanied by the the real life wisdom and stories of Billy Ellis, who retired recently as the lookout after 35 years at the age of 87. He once told me that the only thing he wished was different about the job would be that it were easier to order pizza.
My version of Devil’s Head is bigger, with a tight knit community and more than a few surprises, but if you’re ever in Colorado, it’s a place worth visiting, with a view that you will not believe until you experience it. I tried to give my characters the same love of the place and of the view that Billy described to to me. That’s home.
Once you’re out in the Fallen World though – that’s a dangerous place, and in WHAT GOES AROUND – you’ll see how far that can go when the stakes are high!