I can go ahead and announce the two new collaborative projects that I’ve been hinting about.
The first project is a fantasy novel co-written by me and Steve Diamond.
The second is a sci-fi novel co-written by me and John D. Brown.
Those names will be familiar to my regular readers. I’ve Book Bombed both of them, and have known these guys for years. They are both extremely talented authors, and I’m excited to be working with them.
I recently wrapped up a few big projects, so Toni Weisskopf approached me if I had any ideas for other collaborations. (I’d done a series with Mike Kupari, was wrapping up the edits on the last of the John Ringo MHI novels, and have one outstanding with Sarah Hoyt). I pitched her these two, Toni liked them, the other authors who I’d come up with the ideas with were all in, and as of this morning it sounds like all the contracts are signed and are on their way back to Baen. So here goes:
The Fantasy Project
Steve Diamond is the author of the YA thriller Residue, and a bunch of short fiction, including a story about Vatican Combat Exorcists in the upcoming Monster Hunter Files anthology. I first met Steve when I was a relatively new author and he interviewed me for his book review site, Elitist Book Reviews. Then I found out he was a fellow accountant and we hit it off. We ended up in the same game group (Writer Nerd Game Night, so if you read those serials, you got to see Steve first learning how to write fiction). We also wrote the Son of Fire/Son of Thunder short stories together.
Then when my writing career started doing really well, I realized I would have to quit my day job as a finance manager for a defense contractor, so I hired Steve to be my assistant. We worked together for a year while I trained him to do my job, and he took over when I left.
This idea is about four years old, and we originally brainstormed it to be a story set in someone else’s IP. I had been approached to write that project, only it fell apart for business reasons unrelated to us, and got shelved. But in the process we worked up like a 20 page detail outline for what was a really, really cool story, with some neat characters.
That outline sat on the shelf for years. I still wanted to write it, because the characters and plot were just that interesting, but the setting didn’t belong to us. So when Toni asked for collaboration ideas I sat down with Steve, and we started thinking through how we could lift the characters and plot out of one setting we didn’t own, and make up a new world to stick it into. And the fun part was that once we weren’t constrained by someone else’s already established rules, we came up with some really nifty ideas.
The brief pitch, it’s a grunt’s eye view of a war (think WW1 on the eastern front) in a world based on Slavic mythology and grimdark fairy tales. It’s about a young man who has been avoiding conscription, until something nefarious steps in and violently shoves him toward his destiny. Then it’s off to the trenches, magic and mustard gas, wearing armor made out of dead golems and powered by the souls of the damned, where the troops are more frightened of the secret police behind them than the monsters in front of them.
Yeah. This one is bad ass. 😀
The Sci-Fi Project
John Brown is the author of the Servant of a Dark God series, and the Bad Penny thrillers. We both started out around the same time, and as two relative nobodies with no chance in hell of getting our publishers to pay for us to go on book tour, we teamed up to send ourselves on book tour. Usually by picking a major city, schmoozing our way into getting an official book signing at one store there, then getting a map to every book store in the region, and driving from store to store for several days straight to meet the staff, sign the stock, and hopefully get some new fans. So we spent a whole lot of time in cars together. And in fact, the scariest drive of my life was with John Brown, from Denver to Evanston in a blizzard, with me driving a Ford Focus. Not fun.
John and I had teamed up to teach a How To Plot A Novel in an Hour class a couple of times at LTUE. That’s where some authors are given some random ideas from the audience and show that they can tie them together by plotting out a whole novel on the fly. The problem with those kinds of panels is that when you ask the audience for plot elements, it is like a competition to see who can throw out the stupidest crap. And inevitably the professional authors make even the weirdest ideas work (that’s how Jim Butcher wrote Lost Legion with Pokemon in Codex Alera), but it’s usually silly and a lot of time is wasted.
Two years ago John volunteered us to do it again (I’m kind of the Vanna White to his Pat Sajack during these), and this time rather than get hung up on dumb random suggestions, we’d start with all the elements already written down. And to keep it a challenge, instead of an audience member, we drafted my (at the time) 10 year old son, and basically asked him “Okay. Tell us everything you think would be awesome in a sci-fi story.”
And of course, being a ten year old boy, the answers were “giant robots, space pirates, murderers, giant monsters, bandits, etc.” And he even DREW THE GIANT ROBOTS. (and let me tell you, nobody can envision a crazy fight sequence like a ten year old).
So armed with these extremely awesome plot elements, we went to LTUE, and in front of the audience, over two hours, came up with a basic world build, plot structure, theme, characters, and sketched out most of the scenes. All to show the aspiring writers that this stuff ain’t that complicated. Only when we got done, I looked at what we had and thought… Damn… This could use some more thought and tweaking, but we could actually write this book.
A few years later, and we are.
The brief pitch: In a universe where advanced military tech is limited to ‘civilized’ worlds, there is a team of thieves who specialize in stealing war mechs, and selling them to groups which are normally banned from possessing anything that dangerous. The pirates don’t usually ask questions about what the stuff they procure is used for. Giant killer robots are just tools, and who is some bureaucrat to decide who can and can’t be armed? Only this time, they see what the client is using their merchandise for and it’s just too much to stand. But Warlords really don’t like it when you back out of a deal, and there’s hell to pay.
This one is going to be really cool. And I’m excited, because though I’ve done some sci-fi (D6 is like 15 minutes in the future, and Grimnoir is actually sci-fi) and quite a few pieces of sci-fi short fiction, this will be my first straight up space opera.
The fantasy project is due first, though at this point I couldn’t even begin to estimate the release date. In the meantime I’d invited you to check out John and Steve’s books. They are excellent writers.