Behind the Scenes With This Writer, Aurora Rhapsody - and DISSONANCE
We’re going to mix things up a bit this time. As I mention below, Dissonance is a Pivot Point, and that means this is a great time to pause and take stock for a minute.
A mere two years ago, I wrote a little blog post called “Asking Less (and More) of Others.” (Aside: Best, most insane two years of my life). To all of you who arrived a little later as a result of promotion efforts, or simply because you found and enjoyed my novels, a most sincere welcome. I’m truly glad I deserved it.
You know what the most wonderful thing is, now, two years later? I don’t need to ask anything at all of you—except to continue reading my writing for exactly as long as you continue enjoying it. When I wrote that blog post, I hadn’t sold a single book; now I’ve sold 70K and counting. When I wrote that blog post, we were struggling financially; now we’re comfortably paying the bills early and buying the occasional frill. When I wrote that blog post, I was worried about asking others for help; now I can eagerly help others without expecting anything in return.
So all that is to simply say, “Thank you.” 100% of this is due to you and other readers like you. You have changed this writer’s life, and I can never repay you properly.
Now, about Aurora Rhapsody! Busy couple of weeks for our little universe(s). Both Apogee and Solatium are available as stand-alone short stories today, of course. If you haven’t read them in their respective anthologies yet, you should really read them now. Solatium is several things: Mia’s origin story and a compelling look at just how much she’s had to overcome and rise above; the full story of how her and Caleb met; and a rollicking Caleb-and-Samuel buddy action riff full of mayhem. I think anyone who loves these characters will really, really enjoy it.
Apogee, however, is important. It’s so important I’m numbering it Aurora Rhapsody #4.5. I won’t call it REQUIRED reading, but it’s damn close. On its face, it tells the story of the opening hours of the First Crux War, 25 years before Starshine, as told by the Senecans who started it (who happen to include some people you may know). But it’s so, so much more, and its events have a profound impact on the characters in Dissonance and Abysm. You’ll get the raw facts in Dissonance, but you’ll miss all the nuance, perspective, and infinite shades of grey (that phrase is never going to be usable again, is it?) I’ve been told I paint on occasion.
On April 1, a day before Dissonance releases, yet another Rhapsody short story will be in Dark Beyond the Stars 2: A Planet Too Far. The story, Venatoris, is set five years before Starshine, and it is a wild, no-holds-barred Alex and Kennedy space adventure. In Solatium and Restless we got to see a younger, rougher Caleb who was still growing into himself; in Venatoris, we meet a definitely rougher, still-becoming Alex (and Kennedy). And it’s kind of a riot.
Gentle reminder: If you ever get lost in the branching stories, there’s a handy timeline and order here.
But chances are, you are here above all else for Dissonance. It’ll be in your hands in two weeks, but today, I’m happy to say I can tell you a lot more about it.
Dissonance has and continues to evoke so many thoughts and emotions for me. The book practically wrote itself, and at just under five months it’s the fastest book to market so far. Yet in some, albeit subtle, ways I feel like it’s the riskiest book I’ve ever written.
As Book 5 of 9, it truly is the Pivot Point: this is the book where everything changes, in ways large and small and several ways we won’t fully understand for a while. It ventures to some dark, tumultuous places and doesn’t always return from them by the end, but it’s also full of triumphs and joy. Secrets are revealed—including The Secret, the one that does and will matter more than any other for the future of Aurora Rhapsody—and a few new ones are born.
I promised you when I announced Rhapsody that I wouldn’t play it safe. That’s one promise I’m absolutely keeping. The result of taking risks? I love this book so very much, and I hope you will, too.
Now that all that talking and musing is out of the way, time for the fun part.
Like Sidespace, Dissonance is divided into seven parts, and the core structure is fundamentally the same. It won’t be next time…but that’s next time ;).
PART I: LIMINALITY
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.”
— John Fitzgerald Kennedy
PART II: EMPTY PLACES
“And the rest is rust and stardust.”
— Vladimir Nabokov
PART III: HEROES & VILLAINS
“Cause I'd rather stay here
With all the madmen
Than perish with the sadmen roaming free
And I'd rather play here
With all the madmen
For I'm quite content they're all as sane
— David Bowie
PART IV: WHAT LIES BENEATH
“But first a hush of peace, a soundless calm descends;
The struggle of distress and fierce impatience ends
Mute music sooths my breast—unuttered harmony
That I could never dream till earth was lost to me.”
— Emily Bronte
PART V: HACK THE GALAXY
“I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo,
and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly,
I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight,
to create a sense of the hunger for life that gnaws in us all,
to keep alive in our hearts a sense of the inexpressibly human.”
— Richard Wright
PART VI: THROUGH A GLASS, DARKLY
“Shut your eyes and see.”
— James Joyce
PART VII: PUPPET MASTERS
“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”
In terms of how much of the book they appear in, here are the major characters grouped by rough appearance %:
Alex Solovy / Caleb Marano / Valkyrie
Mia Requelme / Kennedy Rossi / Noah Terrage / Morgan Lekkas
Malcolm Jenner / Miriam Solovy / Devon Reynolds / Brooklyn Harper
Richard Navick / Graham Delavasi / Olivia Montegreu / Mesme
Jude Winslow / Christopher Rychen / Eleni Gianno / Will Sutton / Abigail Canivon
Other characters of note (who aren’t new aliens): Pamela Winslow, Aristide Vranas, Laure Ferre, Faith Quillen, Tessa Hennessey, Claire Zabroi, Lionel Terrage.
By extremely popular demand (and also because the story demanded it—swear), Kennedy and Noah enjoy a lot more page-time—at least 3x more than in Sidespace. As for the other characters in Aurora…well, they kind of took control of their own stories.
Dissonance will return to Earth, Seneca, Messium, Romane, Pandora, Arcadia, Krysk, Sagan, Itero Perona, Anesi Arch and Portal Prime, as well as visit Andromeda and several previously unknown locations for the first time (here’s a handy link to the map). And, of course, there will be new universes through the portals—and a return trip to one universe we visited in Sidespace, but which one is a secret. Here’s a link to the pre-Dissonance-exploration map. It will get filled out nicely during the course of the book.
- Not-so-veiled references to the events of the NOW AVAILABLE short story, APOGEE: Many. Read it.
- Real clues as to the true motivations behind the Metigens' portal network in general and the Aurora universe in particular: 3-ish
- Big, huge, massive revelations as to the true motivations behind the Metigens' portal network in general and the Aurora universe in particular: 1. The one.
- Number of Easter eggs (subtle nods to geek/literary/pop culture): 5
- Named characters who die: 4
- POV characters who die: 1
- Nameless characters who die: Let’s see…668, plus around 100,000
- Number of uses of the word ‘perspicacity’: 1 !! *
- Number of uses of the sidespace dimension: So many, Devon dons sunglasses and mutters, “I was using sidespace before sidespace was cool.”
- I’m not talking about the Bechdel tests, because last time I said I wouldn’t. But it’s really kind of ridiculous.
- Number of alien species encountered: Anything I put here would be misleading
- Number of space stations that explode: 1.5
- Number of star systems that explode: 2
- Number of people who explode: Also 2
- Character with the biggest set of cojones: Honestly, this book is so full of people standing up, giving bad guys the finger and generally being badasses, I couldn’t begin to rank them. So, in no particular order: Malcolm Jenner, Miriam Solovy, Morgan Lekkas, Devon Reynolds, Mia Requelme, Kennedy Rossi, Graham Delavasi, Mesme. To name a few.* **
*And Alex and Caleb, because that’s what they do.
** Okay, fine. Miriam wins. But Devon makes a damn hard run at the prize.
- Best use of invisibility: Malcolm Jenner. Or Alex.
- Best six-dimensional architecture: Idryma
- Sneakiest everything: Miriam Solovy
- Most annoying enemy: Spider bots
- Most unjustified oversized ego: Jude Winslow
- Most justified oversized ego: Olivia Montegreu
- Best sexual tension: It’s a tie. *snickers*
- Most consistent user of logic and reason: Caleb. Yep.
- Biggest smartass: Valkyrie
- Biggest comedian: Annie
- Deliverer of biggest mind-fuck ever: Mesme
Dissonance will be released on April 2—two weeks and a day from now. In case you missed the release announcement, you can find the cover art and description, links to teaser quotes (more to come as release nears) and, when it’s available, buy links, all on the book’s main page here. Did I mention it may be my favorite cover so far? Anyway, I’ll be over here at the PC, wrapping a few things up in preparation for publication….