Gun Runner, the Dragon Award winning sci-fi novel by me and John Brown is now out in paperback.
This was a really fun project, and it came about in a weird way. Basically this novel is everything a 10 year old boy thinks would be awesome in a sci-fi story, crammed into one book.
John and I started writing about the same time, and we had gone on book tour together so we’ve talked a lot about writing. We were asked to teach a class on plotting. Now normally in those sorts of things the authors are given some story elements from the audience, and then they take those and use them to plot a book on the fly, live, to demonstrate the process. Problem is, the audience loves to give authors really goofy shit, which we inevitably make work, but that wastes a lot of time, and we only had two hours.
So John and I got together a few days before, and he suggested rather than use plot suggestions from the audience, we get some in advance from one person, so they’d be coherent. My (at the time) 10 year old son was nearby, so I shouted at him, “Hey Joe, what’s cool stuff to have in a sci-fi story?”
And he immediately came back with “space pirates, giant robots, war, and monsters.” John and I were like, okay, we can work with that! Then while we talked about a plot using those elements, Joe sat there and drew pictures of the giant robots. (One of which John kept, which we stuck in the back of the book as an illustration)
Then we did the class and plotted out a whole story live in front of an an audience of about a hundred people in two hours. At the end the two of us looked at the dry erase board that had a cast and list of scenes from beginning to end, and we both said, yeah, I could actually write this.
Fast forward a few years, and Toni Weisskopf asked me if I had any new collaborations to pitch her. I pitched this one and Servants of War with Steve Diamond (which comes out next month).
Another funny anecdote about this one, anytime I do a collaboration with another writer I like to pick out an actor or someone we know for various characters, that way we are both visualizing the same person as we work. It keeps the collaborators on the same page.
One of those was Captain Nicholas Holloway, who is basically in charge of the smuggling crew, and our main character’s boss and mentor. We decided that we would use Nick Searcy for that role. (all around good dude).
Then when we were trying to name the ship, we wanted to have it be something North Carolina based (that’s where the captain was from) so we asked NC residents on Facebook for name suggestions. We were getting bunches of them, but then Nick himself chimed in, and said he’d name it The Tar Heel… Boom. The Captain has spoken. Tar Heel it is.
Because I like this setting, I’ve actually used it for two other projects as well. Lost Planet Homicide (novella) and A Tank Named Bob (short) are both set in the same universe as Gun Runner. (totally different planets, but all the tech works by the same rules). There is also two Easter eggs in Gun Runner related to another one of my series, but I leave those to astute readers to find, enjoy, and then extrapolate out and go “Oh shit… So that’s how that works.” 🙂
Anyways, Gun Runner is in paperback now. It is also on Audible narrated by Oliver Wyman (who also does Monster Hunter and Lost Planet Homicide). I hope you like it.