What would it take for you to discard everything you believed in and give up your sacred honor?
What would it take to make you rise up and fight when all the odds are against you?
Think about those questions. Really, THINK. I have. I’ve given it a lot of consideration. Many meat-space processor cycles have been devoted to that, and the literal truth is that I have no idea. I’d like to think I know the answer. I’d like to believe that I’d John McClane the shit out of it if I was ever challenged in such a way, but that is merely supposition. I’ve prepped for it, but have never faced the Great Test. Others have. Many of my friends have, people that I respect. And sometimes they stood and did not fall back. And sometimes they failed.
Absent putting myself into a life or death struggle, or engineering things so that I face a moral quandary where I might have to sacrifice my honor — honor I highly prize — in order to prevent an even worse fate, we can all turn to our histories, both personal and shared histories.
And we can also turn to fiction (and — best of all — science fiction).
In this case, I present to you two characters, Mio Sanchez and Benjamin “Benno” Sanchez. One is a 14-year-old girl (which I am not) and the other is a Naval Chief Warrant Officer in a future space navy (which I am also not, but I’m closer to being that than a teen girl). In mine and Chris Kennedy’s new book The Mutineer’s Daughter, they each face BOTH of those questions. They each make hard choices in which there may not be a 100% right answer. In fact, the feedback I’ve gotten from several of our advance readers is that they can understand what Benno and Mio choose, but they don’t necessarily agree with their choices. The split is about 50/50 on those who would do those same things and those who might choose the safer, less morally ambiguous route.
And in the meantime, between and because of their tough moral choices, we also get a lot of kick-ass sci-fi action. Railguns, point defense cannons, missiles, x-ray laser (xaser) warheads, multi-g acceleration, faster than light drives, stabbings, shootings, ground combat, etc. This one has it all! The Mutineer’s Daughter is a cross-genre book, trying to find the sweet spot straddling character-driven drama, hard science fiction (where the physics is as accurate as possible), military science fiction (where we focus on both close-quarters Space Marine style ground combat AND big ship-to-ship fleet engagements), space opera (sci-fi stories with an epic scope, involving big questions and clashes between empires and political ideologies), and young-adult sci-fi (which should be accessible for teens and still exciting for adults, like The Hunger Games (there’s some limited cursing — they are sailors after all — but I would never mind my own teenage girls reading this one)).
A word for my readers and for those who have been waiting PATIENTLY for the sequel to A Sword Into Darkness: this is not that sequel, but it is of a kind with ASID. The ships and ship-to-ship combat will feel very similar to you if you loved Sword. In fact, this book got me off butt and got me back on the horse and actively writing that sequel Lancers Into The Light. I hope to continue apace and have it out this year as well! I am indeed looking for beta readers for its first half, so hit me up if you want to join in. For you fans of Nyrath’s/Winchell Chung’s resource site Atomic Rockets, he REALLY enjoyed The Mutineer’s Daughter, and I hope you see some words to that effect on his site really soon!
As for my writing partner/publisher Chris Kennedy, man, you could not ask to know a better dude. A retired US Navy Commander, an aviator, an educator, a great dad, and a great husband, he continues his string of greats by being an awesome publisher and a fantastic writer. He’s easily the most prolific author I’ve ever met, and the train of pure kick-assery shows no real signs of stopping. He is the author or co-author/contributor of like 17 books and the publisher of almost 39 more, and that’s just in the last four years. He has his own Theogony series of military sci-fi (8 volumes), his Can’t Look Back fantasy novel, and OF COURSE, the AMAZING Four Horsemen Universe of merc-based military sci-fi that he and Mark Wandrey co-created (now up to 12-15 volumes, and which I contributed a story to in their second anthology For a Few Credits More.
I first met Chris four years ago at my first science fiction convention, RavenCon in Richmond, VA. He was just starting out as a writer then, too, and already helping to write the book (literally) on succeeding with self-publishing. We were both Navy, both dads, so we hit it off pretty well. Our writing styles were very different, but that just goes to show how AMAZING this genre is (and its readers) that we could both find success. We saw each other at multiple conventions, traveled to a few together, and he was a great friend when my marriage fell apart and I was going through the divorce (with all the unintended consequences to my writing throughput). Then, at LibertyCon in 2016, I had a sit-down with the great Bill Fawcett, sci-fi writer and publisher elder statesman. I lamented my lack of progress on finishing Lancers Into The Light, wondered how I could knock ’em out like my bud Chris Kennedy, and Mr. Fawcett suggested why don’t I just collaborate with Chris and have him finish it?
I balked. Sword and Lancers were my babies, but the basic idea was not a bad one. I met with Chris and we talked it over, and both agreed that we should do something together. At that time, he was also working out the particulars with Mark Wandrey for their Four Horsemen series, but that was a shared universe. This would be an actual co-written novel, between two very different writing approaches and with vastly different production rates. And, remember, I was the one who was having difficulty balancing life, work, and writing. Still, it had great potential.
A few months later, wanting to maximize our individual strengths, and to explore both a more character/moral based story than just our usual action-pop or physics-porn, as well as tap into the potentially lucrative young-adult market, I sat down and hashed out the story idea and first outline. We met up, discussed changes, planned out a writing schedule and routine, and said “Go!” The plan was that we would trade off chapters and characters. He would stay planet-side with Mio and the resistance. I would be up in space, on the ships with Benno as he went from loyal officer to desperate mutineer (spoiler!). I wrote the first chapter that November, gave it to Chris so he could make his chapter, then sat back to wait for him to deliver it and I’d write my next one.
Remember the prolific thing? Yeah, Chris gave me his next 10 chapters. His whole half of the book. Like a month after I gave him my ONE chapter.
I panicked. I admit it. I hadn’t even STARTED chapter 3, and here he was, FINISHED. I apologized for my misunderstanding on what the work routine was supposed to be, then knuckled down and started writing. But, as alluded to and discussed in previous posts, I was still working out exactly how to do that work-life-writing balance. My day job is HIGHLY time-and-focus-intensive, and when the day is done, you sometimes just don’t want to write. Weekends, well, I was juggling time with my kids mid-divorce, time dating and eventually “going steady” with my wonderful, understanding girlfriend Kristin (yes! Like Kris in ASID!). So, I made progress, but, shamefully, I kept missing my own self-imposed deadlines, kept breaking my throughput promises to Chris. For his part, he was VERY understanding and supportive, plus he had all that sweet 4HU action to keep him distracted, but I did owe him big.
Finally, once the divorce was final and the kids moved away, once my job ceased to be a 24-7 crisis and I gained more confidence in charge, and once my beautiful, evil, task-master of a lady-love reminded my regularly to sit down and WRITE, I finished (only a year late!). Chris jumped to at the beginning of this year, kicking complete ass as publisher in getting the edits done, the cover finished, and the launch strategized. And now, here you have it: The Mutineer’s Daughter, on sale as ebook and paperback, Book One of In Revolution Born. I think it is an absolute improvement over ASID and has indeed got me going gangbusters on finishing LITL. I think you’re going to LOVE this one, but only YOU can determine that. So don’t wait! Go! Buy! Read! Review!
I gots writin’ to do! First Lancers, then Book Two of In Revolution Born, following The Mutineer’s Daughter.