(those are irritating poltergeists who insist on playing polkas at your table.)
Terry Ervin pulled at his collar. "Quite a place you picked for the interview. Ah, I did ask you to interview me for my new book RELIC HUNTED, didn't I?"
"Happy to do it," I said. "Tell the readers here a little about yourself and your recent release."
"Relic Hunted is the second book in the Crax War Chronicles, my SF series. It’s action adventure, para-military space opera."
I asked, "Second? Do readers have to pick up the first book to enjoy this one?"
"No. Not at all. I am currently writing two series. The Crax War Chronicles (SF) and the First Civilization’s Legacy Series (Fantasy).
With my fantasy series, after having the first novel published,
I spent about six months studying how other authors had accomplished writing a series where each book could stand alone and tell a complete story in such a manner that,
although there are recurring characters with developing relationships and events, a reader can pick up any book in the series and start there."
"Like The Dresden Files," I said.
"Yes, readers can enjoy it, and then pick up any other book in the series and enjoy it.
I learned the balance, so that readers who started with the first book
can also enjoy the continuing story without getting bogged down in what ‘mentions’ of happened before.
Learning how to do that wasn’t easy, as I expected.
Reading and rereading authors that did it successfully, and studying their techniques and methods of storytelling from book to book,
well, it took a while. I took notes and left plenty of torn paper book marks.
For some evidence that I got it right, here’s a review of Soul Forge, the third novel in the First Civilization’s Legacy series by Fantastical Reads.
The reviewer started with the third novel, enjoyed it, and plans to go back and read the first two."
I said, "Who are some of the authors you studied to get the ‘start with any book in a series method’ right?"
"Steven Brust (Vlad Taltos series), Roger Zelazny (Chronicles of Amber series—mainly the first 5) and Laurell K. Hamilton
(Anita Blake series—the early ones before she kind of went off on sexual content over plot and character development—in my opinion.)
"Mine, too," I said. "I love Steven Brust and Roger Zelazny was my writing mentor.
Yet, Zelazny's 1st five books ended as if they were chapters. You really had to read the prior books to get the full benefit of the current one.
So how did you study them?"
"Since it was necessary to read and reread multiple times to figure out the techniques the authors used, it was very helpful to really enjoy the stories and characters.
I needed to learn things like when and how to use dialogue, or character thoughts and flashbacks,
or some other technique to work in necessary backstory for new readers, while not inhibiting the flow for readers familiar with other books in the series.
Working the content within the context of the tale unfolding, more along the lines of unobtrusively reminding them
of how relationships between characters were established and developed, and previous events that are impacting the current storyline, was the objective.
"I do the same when on my blood runs. In fact I have a new audio book out today:
I asked, "How would you describe this novel so that a TV watcher would get it?
"Okay. I would say Starship Troopers meets Babylon 5 meets The Rockford Files.
Starship Troopers = gritty, high stakes combat against powerful alien forces.
Babylon 5 = an overall story arc and interesting characters, with interstellar travel and space combat.
Rockford Files = Security Specialist Keesay (the main character) sort of echoes Jim Rockford.
Intelligent enough to usually figure things out, not always on the up-and-up, and often gets thumped while trying to get his own licks in."
I smiled, "You've got me interested in your Keesay. Would you flesh out his character a bit more for us?"
Terry nodded, "4th Class Specialist Krakista Keesay is a Relic or an R-Tech. It means he relies on late 20th century equipment and technology despite humanity having advance technology and interstellar travel capability.
There are a couple reasons I did this, including keeping the novel relevant years beyond its publication date, and exploring how technology and how access to and use of it can be a socieo-divider, much like wealth can be a socioeconomic divider.
It makes Keesay sort of a throwback, and sets him apart.
Let’s face it, shotguns and bayonets and brass knuckles aren’t something you think of alongside interstellar space travel. (Okay, maybe Firefly, but I wrote Relic Tech well before the unique, but short-lived series. It just took me a while to get it published…and there’s a long story there, maybe for another time).
I said, "In other words: no one to mess with!"
Terry laughed, "You've got that right!"
My stomach took a right turn at dead as I noticed DayStar headed our way,
his body drinking in the shadows of all those he passed. Time to seek safer hills.
"Ah, Terry," I said as I pulled him out of his chair and took him by the arm, leading him out of Meilori's.
"Anything else you would like our friends to know before we blow this pop-stand?"
"I hope our friends will take a look at my novels…
heck, in addition to the Crax War Chronicles and my First Civilization’s Legacy series, there’s Genre Shotgun, my collection of short stories—SF, Mystery, Horror and Inspirational.
And if they do give any of them a shot, I’d love to hear from them, get their thoughts.
They can learn more about my works and contact me via my website, www.ervin-author.com and my blog, Up Around the Corner."
As soon as the door closed behind us, the screaming started from within. Terry looked a question at me.
"Never leave a small tip at Meilori's," I said.
It was the truth ... just not the explanation for the screaming.
Some explanations just are too wild ... even for fantasy/science fiction writers.