I find that many of our favorite writers have themes, or story ideas, which they carry across from series to series. I don’t know if themes are conscious or not.
For example, the female protagonists written by one author are always in formerly abusive relationships.
Our stories? Well, we didn’t think they were alike, but then we thought about Alliance, where people are trying to kidnap Ean, and Confluence, where—even though it happens late in the book—Yu’s people sort of try to kidnap Ean too.
Or even with Stars Uncharted, which most of you haven’t read yet, where hopefully we’re not giving too much away by saying that one of our protagonists is on the run and that some of our antagonists want her to do something for them. It gets even worse in Stars Beyond, the book we’ve just handed in to the editor, where they really are after her. (A bit cryptic, but I’m trying not to give plotlines away.)
Hmm. Pot calling kettle black? Definitely.
At the moment we’re tossing up over which stories to send to our agent next.
There’s Acquard, of course, but series books aren’t flavour-of-the-month right now and while Acquard’s not an Ean Lambert story, everyone’s favorite(?) other linesman, Jordan Rossi, does get gig, so that may be a hard sell. (There’s no guarantee she’ll like Acquard anyway, but we’ll see). We’re considering what else we can send her as well.
She wants space opera. So do we. And we do write ahead a little. Not much, but enough that we know whether it’s a story we can write or not. Which means we need to have written ten or twenty thousand words, minimum, and know how the story is going to finish. Enough to send samples and a synopsis.
“What about Arrax?” I suggest. “It needs a major rewrite, but it’ll be a good space opera, and the science behind the story is neat.”
Except … as we propose it, Arrax starts off with someone being captured, and fairly early in the book someone else gets kidnapped.
Sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it.
Not only that, the basic story is about some people going to a planet to look for some MacGuffin. Well, it’s not really a MacGuffin, but people will call it that. A chase—in space and on planet—looking for some kind of treasure, fighting bad guys to get their prize, and so on. Lots of fun.
Maybe not, but let me reproduce the Goodreads blurb for Stars Uncharted. (My emphasis on the last paragraph.)
Three people who are not who they claim to be:
Nika Rik Terri, body modder extraordinaire, has devoted her life to redesigning people’s bodies right down to the molecular level. Give her a living body and a genemod machine, and she will turn out a work of art.
Josune Arriola is crew on the famous explorer ship the Hassim, whose memory banks contain records of unexplored worlds worth a fortune. But Josune and the rest of the crew are united in their single-minded pursuit of the most famous lost planet of all.
Hammond Roystan, the captain of the rival explorer ship, The Road, has many secrets. Some believe one of them is the key to finding the lost world.
Josune’s captain sends her to infiltrate Roystan’s ship, promising to follow. But when the Hassim exits nullspace close to Roystan’s ship, it’s out of control, the crew are dead, and unknown Company operatives are trying to take over. Narrowly escaping and wounded, Roystan and Josune come to Nika for treatment–and with problems of her own, she flees with them after the next Company attack.
Now they’re in a race to find the lost world…and stay alive long enough to claim the biggest prize in the galaxy.
Now does it sound familiar?
Yes, well. Time for a rethink. Let’s bring out another book we have on the back-burner. Fergus Burns, with the best bad guy (girl) we’ve written to date. Alis Mack Carroll.
Meantime, back to the drawing board to rethink why we have so much kidnapping and chasing people in our own stories.