Behind the Scenes with SIDESPACE

Twice makes a routine (according to my dogs anyway). With the release of SIDESPACE: Aurora Renegades Book One coming up in one week, here’s a peek behind the scenes of the book – we’ve got facts and figures, trivia, musings, numerous awards, several secrets, and one tattoo.

Relatedly, be sure to check out the teaser quotes, which I'm sharing with increasing frequency as release day approaches. See them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and all the other social media sites. Also, I shared the back cover blurb in this news update.

Sidespace is divided into seven parts. Seven, you repeat, incredulous. But isn’t this book shorter than the first three, and they only had four parts each? Yep. Sidespace is structured a little differently than the previous books (more on this below); I think it enhances the storytelling, but you’ll have to tell me. So seven parts (plus a Coda!) titled and quoted thusly:



“Life is the fire that burns and the sun that gives light. Life is the wind and the rain and the thunder in the sky. Life is matter and is earth, what is and what is not, and what beyond is in Eternity.”
— Lucius Annaeus Seneca


“If I was perfect then this would be easy. Either road is plausible on both I could drown. I walk through the center with no rules to guide me. I realize it’s difficult but now I can see.”
— Avenged Sevenfold


“We are an impossibility in an impossible universe.”
— Ray Bradbury


“He understood that these were extraordinary times, and if their old life was ever restored to them, nothing would be the same.”
— Ann Patchett


“The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.”
— Muriel Rukeyser


“The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.”
— Charles Du Bos


“There is no planet, sun or star could hold you, if you but knew what you are.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson


“As he caught his footing, his head fell back, and the Milky Way flowed down inside him with a roar.”
— Yasunari Kawabata


Many of the characters from Aurora Rising return, of course. (As an aside, several existing characters don’t appear in Sidespace, but will reappear in later books.) It's been months since the end of Transcendence, and new characters have entered the field of play. SPOILER: There are also aliens. Aliens that aren’t Metigens. Not going to tell you their names, though ;).

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 / Devon Reynolds / [Mystery Character]

Richard Navick / Malcolm Jenner / Kennedy Rossi / Graham Delavasi

Noah Terrage / Morgan Lekkas / Abigail Canivon / Mesme

Olivia Montegreu / [Mystery Character] / Christopher Rychen / Will Sutton / Eleni Gianno

 Other characters of note (who aren’t [mystery characters] or aliens): Aristide Vranas, Steven Brennon, Hideyo Mori, Laure Ferre, Pamela Winslow, Faith Quillen, Fedor Evzen, Tessa Hennessey. Also, Rychen finally got a POV scene! He's moving up in the world.

Plus the Artificials, of course…I really should promote Valkyrie to the character distribution above, as she most definitely comes into her own as an independent personality in this book.

Sidespace will return to Earth, Seneca, Erisen, Messium, Romane, Pandora, Arcadia, New Babel and Portal Prime, as well as visit New Orient and several previously unknown locations for the first time (here’s a handy link to the map). Oh, and what everyone’s waiting on—the portal spaces. Here’s a link to a shiny new pre-exploration map. What’s through them is a surprise.


Data Points:

  • Veiled references to the events of the upcoming anthology short stories, Apogee and Solatium: 5

  • Semi-overt hints as to the true motivations behind the Metigens' portal network in general and the Aurora universe in particular: 4-ish

  • Number of easter eggs (subtle nods to geek/literary/pop culture): 4

  • Named characters (not necessarily POV) who die: 3…no, 4

  • Nameless characters who die: Let’s see…1,312, plus 1,241, plus around 175,000

  • Number of uses of the word ‘perspicacity’: STILL 0

  • Percentage by which Sidespace passes the Bechdel test, Russo test, all the tests: A lot. Do I really need to keep answering this question? No. No I do not.*

* Percentage of future books about which I will concern myself with any of these tests or new, even more ridiculous tests: Zero

  • Okay, one tiny alien spoiler. Number of alien species encountered: 4



  • Character who makes the most impressive effort to steal the book through sheer, shocking audacious behavior (Alex and Caleb were disqualified to make it fair): Devon Reynolds. Surprising, I know.

…or possibly Kennedy Rossi. Cause, damn.


  • Most disappointing enemy: The leaf

  • Best impersonation of wildlife: Meno

  • Best impersonation of a deity: Alex Solovy

  • Best delivery of one-liners: Miriam Solovy. No, really.

  • Most wanton destruction of another’s property: Caleb Marano

  • Most careful preservation of another’s property: Also Caleb Marano

  • Coolest customer under pressure: Abigail Canivon

  • Best hair: Tessa Hennessey

  • Sneakiest bastard: Morgan Lekkas. Or Annie. Probably Annie...or Morgan.

Side note: The data points and awards are a little more sparse than last time, because so much of what happens in the portal spaces is not only spoilery, any clever references I were to come up with wouldn't make any sense - and thus wouldn't be funny - until you've read the book. But AFTER you've read the book...the tales we'll tell!


Personal Thoughts

Sidespace is without a doubt the start of a new trilogy. Don’t come into it expecting Transcendence Part 2—while I hope you will re-read Aurora Rising time and again, you deserve something which, while still familiar, is also genuinely new. It would be lazy for me and a disservice to you to return to the same well repeatedly, rehashing the same stories, and I’ve worked hard not to do so.

Seven months have passed since the end of the Metigen War, and not only do Alex and Caleb find themselves in new universes, in many ways those in Aurora find themselves in a new world as well. When coupled with the increased prominence of sapient Artificials, evolving posthumans and multiple alien species, I found numerous opportunities to take risks—with the presentation of the story and the story itself. I’ll be very interested to hear your thoughts on all this once you've read Sidespace: what worked, what maybe didn’t, what new approaches you might like to see.

Each trilogy is intended to have a unique feel. What connects them all is the characters. And the underlying story, make no mistake…but above all, the characters. Aurora Renegades is intended to be fast-paced, unexpected and tumultuous. Sidespace is shorter than any of the Rising books at ~100K words, but as much, if not more, happens in it as in any Rising novel.

So if Sidespace is shorter, why did it take almost 8 months instead of the usual 5-6? Well, it didn’t. I spent the first two months after Transcendence came out (in addition to preparing the Collection) expanding the high-level outline I had for the rest of the series into a concrete, detailed framework for the next six books. I needed to do this before writing Sidespace because…well, because everything that comes later flows from what comes now.

Thank you for your patience, and I promise that (barring the zombie apocalypse, an actual alien invasion or some other calamity) you won’t have to wait 8 months for Dissonance or future books.

Oh, and I also took a little time this summer to celebrate Aurora Rhapsody in a somewhat permanent fashion. And I kind of love it.