Behind the Scenes with VERTIGO

If you’ve been around here for a while, you’ll remember that as Starshine neared completion I began posting little excerpts from it every couple of weeks. I haven’t done so with Vertigo, primarily because all the excerpts are spoilers. All of them. I mean it. I do hope to start releasing some quotes in the coming weeks, which are too short to be spoilers. Right?

(As an aside, one edit made last week was at the urging of my husband, who said, “This is the actual book, you are supposed to spoil them!”)

To try and make up for my overly secretive and neurotic fear of revealing too much too soon to you guys, I thought I would share some other details about Vertigo, both fun and legit.

First, the new and improved and mostly more purple Vertigo cover:


This is a good time for a little history on the stylistic choice to feature three essentially identical covers, differing only in color. One of my favorite science fiction series is Peter F. Hamilton’s Night’s Dawn Trilogy. Several years ago Orbit did a simply gorgeous trade paperback reprint of the trilogy (here’s the Amazon link, but the images there don’t begin to do the books justice). To make them even more special, on discovering them my husband bought them for me, even though it was during the hard times. I knew when I held them in my hands that should I succeed in publishing novels, I wanted them to look like this.


Like Starshine, Vertigo will be divided into four parts, titled and quoted thusly:



“For each one of us stands alone in the midst of a universe.” — John Buchanan Robinson


“Fate is not satisfied with inflicting one calamity.” — Publilius Syrus


“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” — Marshal Ferdinand Foch


“In the space between chaos and shape there was another chance.” — Jeanette Winterson

I do so love coming up with dramatic, descriptive yet mysterious part titles….

The major characters remain largely the same, with some ‘bit players’ from Starshine rising in importance and others fading into the background. There is one completely new POV character, Devon Reynolds. Devon is a quantum computer expert (he would say savant) in his mid-20s who works as a consultant on EASC’s Project ANNIE. He’s a lot of fun; I hope you’ll like him.

In terms of how much of the book they appear in, here are the major characters grouped by rough appearance %:


Alex Solovy / Caleb Marano

Miriam Solovy / Kennedy Rossi

Graham Delavasi / Malcolm Jenner / Richard Navick / Noah Terrage

Isabela Marano / Liam O’Connell / Marcus Aguirre

Mia Requelme / Devon Reynolds / Olivia Montegreu

Other characters of note: Jaron Nythal, Earth Alliance Admiral Christopher Rychen, Will Sutton, Senecan Federation (SF) Marshal Eleni Gianno, SF Cmdr. Morgan Lekkas, SF Chairman Aristide Vranas, Matei Uttara, Steven Brennon and Marlee Marano. Also, Valkyrie and STAN join Meno and ANNIE in the growing club of Artificial personalities.

It’s a big cast, but comprised of people you’ve hopefully already gotten to know. Also, a number of them…I hesitate to use the term ‘pair up,’ because it isn’t always friendly, but you get the idea; the result is that the novel doesn’t jump around as much as the cast list might suggest.

Lest you worry, Alex is in a full 30% of the book. At the same time, Miriam continues to surprise me with her ability to steal every scene she’s in and her impressive efforts to steal the entire book. And as for Caleb, well…you’ll see, but it's safe to say he does not disappoint.

Vertigo will also visit several new worlds. In addition to returning to Earth, Seneca, Krysk, Romane, Pandora, Atlantis, New Babel and Gaiae, the book will visit Scythia, Messium, Fionava, Desna, Perona and Sagan (here’s a handy link to the map). And of course, much time will be spent wherever it is that Alex and Caleb find themselves.


Data Points:

  • Shocking secrets (previously unknown to the reader) revealed: 3.5

  • Shocking secrets (already known to the reader) exposed: Many. Most?

  • Named characters (not necessarily POV) from Starshine who die: 5

  • Named characters from Starshine who live: All the rest

  • New characters who die: It’s an alien invasion people, come on! *cue the extras*

  • Number of uses of the word ‘perspicacity’: ZERO


*I have never bothered with worrying about this issue. But for the record, Vertigo kicks the test’s ass, tosses it shredded into a corner and walks away. Then it strolls back in, flings the charred remains of the Russo test in the other corner, drops the mic and walks out again.

  • Number of easter eggs (subtle nods to geek/literary/pop culture): 5

    • Number in Starshine: 4 (did you catch them?)

  • Plot threads resolved: Many, I promise!

  • Plot threads not resolved: One less than many

  • Number of narrative choices guaranteed to garner me a few angry reviews: 3*

*I’m not afraid of you!

  • Number of cliffhanger endings guaranteed to garner me a few angry reviews: 1*

*Okay, maybe a little.

I shared this on Facebook last week; here is the final storyboard, blurred to the point it tells you absolutely nothing. I will give you one hint: blue tinting denotes Alex/Caleb.


I admit, I can be a bit of a tease—but here’s something that isn’t a tease. The draft back-cover blurb for Vertigo:


Your thoughts, critiques and suggestions are most welcome in the comments.


When I first typed “Vertigo: Coming Next Winter” at the end of Starshine, I did so only after reassuring myself that ‘next winter’ lasted by any measure to the end of February 2015. From the view of March, it looked like it was going to take that long.

In my previous blog post I expressed optimism but refused to declare in July that Vertigo would be released earlier than December.

Well now it’s August, and I will happily declare that Vertigo will definitely be released much earlier than December. In the News update today I give a tentative date of October 8th, with a small chance at a week or two earlier.

In other words, the summer has gone rather well for this writer.