Alliance of Shadows is out today!

Alliance of Shadows is out today! It is the final book in the trilogy that began with Dead Six, and was continued in Swords of Exodus.

I posted the following back in July when I finished the final edits on this book, but figured I would copy it over again for those who didn’t see it, because how these books came to exist is really kind of a cool story. 

These books came about in a really odd and interesting way.

Back when I was working on the first MHI, I was a moderator on a popular gun forum called The High Road.

There was another member there named Mike Kupari. I had never met him in person, and only knew him from his THR posts.

In 2006 he started writing an online fiction serial called Welcome Back, Mr. Nightcrawler. He would write a scene, and then post it on the forum that day. The next day, another scene.

Welcome Back, Mr. Nightcrawler was a thriller about mercenaries in the Persian Gulf. Mike had just gotten back from working there as a contractor, so he knew the area and really nailed the vibe, but his job had been uneventful guarding stuff kind of work.  Mr. Nightcrawler was the stylized action hero version he started working on when he was bored.

It was pretty popular. The forumites were really enjoying it. I started reading the serial posts, and it was really good. This Kupari guy could really write. Then I got to this scene where his mercenary character Valentine takes out a terrorist financer, it was awesome, but it got my writer brain turning. And I came up with an idea about one of the bystanders.

So I started thinking about the scene from the perspective of somebody who was there to rob the bad guys. What the heck, I wrote it up. That was how Lorenzo was born.

Keep in mind, I’d not published anything yet at this point, so Mike didn’t know me from Adam. So I sent him a message, said hey, I’m a wannabe writer too.  I just wrote a novel about monster hunters. You inspired this scene set in your world. Do you mind if I post it to your thread?

Fortunately, Mike took it as a compliment, and said go ahead. I posted it to the serial thread.

The readers went nuts. My scene integrated so well that they all assumed we had been planning it that way from the beginning.

So Mike and I got to talking. Neither of us were professionals at that point. We didn’t have a clue what we were doing. But by golly, people were reading it and enjoying it. So what the heck? He’d keep writing his serial, and I’d keep writing my side story. Let’s see where it went.

So then Mike would post another scene the next day. Then I would write up a couple thousand words from my character’s perspective and post the next day. Then Mike would read what I wrote, and post up another scene from his character’s PoV. We were going so fast there was no proof reading and hardly any planning at all.

The fans loved it.

At some point Mike and I realized that if this story was going to have a coherent plot, we really should figure out where it was going. Both of us had just been pantsing it based on what the other guy had written the day before. So we started brainstorming where this thing was going to end up.

What people don’t realize is that during that initial brainstorming for Mr. Nightcrawler, we would also come up with the basic plot for what would eventually turn into Swords of Exodus and Alliance of Shadows.

Over the course of that summer Mike and I wrote a hundred thousand words of on the fly fiction. By some miracle Welcome Back, Mr. Nightcrawler actually worked out great, everything came together, and it had a satisfactory conclusion. By the end we had thousands of people hooked on the serial.

The best thing about that for me was I now had a couple thousand people in one place who knew I could write, and hey, look at this… I just so happen to have this novel I’m conveniently self-publishing soon you guys can throw money at. That led to MHI having some fantastic sales for a self-published novel (this was before the eBook revolution, so we’re talking about $20 Print on Demand paperbacks), one of the serial readers introduced me to Uncle Hugos, which is how a PoD paperback wound up on a national bestseller list, Uncle Hugos is how I met Toni at Baen, and the rest is history.

During this Mike and I started working on the next serial idea which would turn into Swords of Exodus and Alliance of Shadows. We decided this one was going to be epic. (Uh yeah, since neither one of us knew what we were doing, the plot of this “little serial” actually ended up around 350,000 words over two novels). I wrote a bunch of Lorenzo’s half of what would turn into SoE, but we never ended up posting it on the gun forums, because stuff got kind of crazy.

During all of this I owned a gun store in Utah, and anybody who owns their own small business knows that consumes your life. Mike (who I still hadn’t met in person) came out to Utah for a change of scenery, and ended up moving here. The first time I met the guy who I’d basically written a book with was when he stopped by my shop.

And when it turned out he was super good at selling guns, we ended up working together. Sure, he didn’t get paid much, but then again, neither did I most of the time. We ended up teaching pistol classes together. Long story short, Mike has been one of my best friends ever since.

I sold the rights to MHI to Baen and discontinued the self-published version. A year and a half went by before the Baen version came out. My really limited writing time was spent on MHV, so the plan for the SoE online serial kind of fell by the wayside. Mike, who had been in the Army before, joined the Air Force and went to EOD school. Burned out of the gun store, I sold my shares to my partner in 2008, and for four months I was unemployed wannabe writer guy (which was when I wrote Hard Magic) until I found a military contracting job.

In 2009 the Baen version of MHI came out and did shockingly well. I was selling well enough that Baen wanted more books from me. So I got to thinking… What about Welcome Back, Mr. Nightcrawler? It was way too rough to just publish it as it was, it would take a lot of work to really clean it up, but it was one hell of a story.

Keep in mind, Mike was kind of busy right about then (I’ll get to that in a second), but he was game. So we cleaned the heck out of Mr. Nightcrawler (and both of us were more experienced writers by this point) and it turned into Dead Six. (It was now nearly twice as long too). Toni thought it was great and picked it up.

It came out in 2011. Remember when I said Mike was kind of busy? He’s the only author I know who had his first book signing at a FOB in Afghanistan.


We still had the story we had come up with for the second serial, and I’d already written a bunch of my half. So Mike dove into that and we finished off Swords of Exodus. It came out in 2013.

It took us a while to wrap up the last book considering we had the basic plot figured out nearly TEN YEARS AGO! One reason is that between SoE and AoS, by popular demand, Mike launched his solo career with the excellent space opera Her Brother’s Keeper. (Seriously, buy it. Great book)

Last week we heard back from Baen, the final edits were in and done for Alliance of Shadows. The eARC will be out soon. The book will be on shelves everywhere in October.

That is the end of one heck of a creative journey.

I’m proud of this book. I’m proud of my coauthor. I think you guys are really going to enjoy it.

One Week Left on the Illustrated Christmas (Noun)!
Special Project N is now Live! THE ILLUSTRATED CHRISTMAS (NOUN)!

27 thoughts on “Alliance of Shadows is out today!”

  1. Just finished DS and SoE last week, and just bought AoS on Audible.

    I love the work Bronson Pinchot did on the Grimnoir Chronicles (which was my introduction to your work) and he did a great job on the first two Dead Six books. Time to dig into AoS!

    1. There was a lot of accents that have to be done correctly for both Dead Six novels and Grimnoir novels. Listen to Mr. Pinchot’s narration let me to appreciate how Jake Sullivan is supposed to sound like as my brain has a tendency to speed up people’s speech.

  2. I got a notification from Amazon on my phone. New release from Larry Correia and 1 other!

    “…the movie star!
    And the rest!
    Here on Gilligan’s Isle!”

  3. Already picked it up for Audible. Got through the first chapter on the way to work and so far so good. But I’ve come to expect throwing money at you two is a good bet.

  4. Preordered it on audio. 🙂 Now I just have to decide if I should re-listen to the first two first to jog my memory.

  5. I remember reading the High Road posts as you guys were doing them and I was hooked.
    You’ve (both) come a long way since then!
    Congrats to you both.

  6. I forgot I pre-ordered Alliance of Shadows, and was pleasantly surprised to find it waiting for me on my Kindle when I got home tonight. 😛

    So once I finish my binge-read of Daniel Keys Moran’s “Tales of the Continuing Time” series, I know what I’ll be reading next . . .

    1. A great series, with a really long break in the middle. I really like the main character, and wish for some more backstory, as well as a conclusion.

      1. Yeah, for all the people complaining about how long it’s taken GRRM to bring out the next book in “Game of Thrones,” I give you DKM, who’s managed to produce four “Continuing Time” books in thirty years. Mind you, Moran’s series is waaaaay more epic in scope. And I gather that certain life issues got in the way of his writing, alas.

        That said: Having just re-read the first two books – “Emerald Eyes” and “The Long Run” – I’m really amazed at how well even the earliest installments of TotCT still hold up even after all these years, in terms of the (projected) science/tech and the storyline. And you can get the whole series so far on Kindle for a total of twenty bucks, which is a bargain for such an awesome story.

  7. Well all things good are just getting better. A friend of mine said she didn’t like the idea of MHI. She read the first 130 pages and stopped and stopped and reread twice. Man goes one on with a Werewolf, meets USG goons, meets hot babel monster killer, (women do this as a job?) Whoa! Sold you another 8 books.

    1. Quite frankly, yes! Otherwise, you ought to feel lost not knowing what happened in the first two parts and why some interactions happen.

      But besides that, the other two parts are a blast as well. 🙂

    2. No. My only minor quibble is that when a plot point from a past book becomes important either Val or Lorrenzo will recap it for the listener/reader. Good for 99 percent of the audience but if you just binged on the first two novels right before the third one it a little annoying.

  8. I finished the audio version and loved it. I don’t want to spoil anything but the ending is very final and satisfying which is sad if you are hoping for more stories after the book is over. My math is going to be off but roughly three years have passed since the start of book one with the Mexico mission for Val and Big Eddie entering Lorrenzo’s life much of that time unaccounted for so here hoping for some lost stories.

  9. Slightly OT, but it wasn’t 100% clear what happened to Adrian Decker? Vanguard/Switch Blade went kaput at the start of Dead Six, and there were plenty of mention of various characters that had worked at his company at one form or the other, but what happened to the man himself?

    1. It was mentioned that he hasn’t paid for anything he’s done so I’m assuming he’s living the good life somewhere. Lorrenzo considers him a father figure that molded him to be the stone cold killing monster he was during his Switchblade days so if we are lucky there will be an untold story about Lorrenzo with and how it all went wrong in Africa.

      1. In the short Lorenzo origin story (Sweothi City, Lorenzo was part of SWITCHBLADE mission in the midst of another African civil war. The Montalban back forces was taking over and Deckard ordered Lorenzo on a suicide mission to give the rest of the company breathing room to retreat. It’s just that Lorenzo was quicker on the drawn and stole the diamond that was the payment loot pot. Deckard did bounced back from that setback and went on to expand into Vanguard. The events at the start of Dead Six mention that Vanguard/SWITCHBLADE have been declared outlaw by United Nation, so I’m not sure what future holds for Deckard.

  10. Excellent work with AOS. I’ve been looking forward to the conclusion of this series for quite some time. This book does not disappoint!

  11. Great story about Kupari.

    Read the eARC back when, I’ll just say again this is the best of a great series. Very satisfying conclusion, I look forward to reading this whole series again someday.

  12. Finished my reread, still as good, on a side note, in the HC edition, the small problem with “Du Evangeline” is still there…. Won’t bother many people, only those having good French reading skills.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *