Michael J. Martinez Guest Post–“Goodbye and Hello: Moving On to a New Series”
I know Thomas Weatherby and Shaila Jain better than anyone else in the world. I know how they think, what they believe, what scares them and what drives them. I know the worlds they move through better than they do, every shadowy nook and every bit of history.
I know this because I created them, and their world.
Weatherby and Jain are the protagonists of the Daedalus trilogy, my debut series with Night Shade Books. I’ve watched Weatherby go from a green second lieutenant aboard a frigate that crashed into Mars to a full admiral in command of Mercury’s defenses against Napoleon’s rapacious revenant armies. I’ve shepherded Jain through PTSD and dead-end assignments to piloting the first 22nd–century mission to Saturn and beyond. They’ve both found love, lost much and lived to tell about it.
And I’ve bidden them farewell.
Part of me could continue writing Napoleonic space opera and interdimensional shenanigans for years to come, but there’s something deep inside me that knows it’s time to let go. There is a risk in continuing when the story is done and well told. The universes are saved, Napoleon defeated. How does one go from there?
Many authors do just that, and do so with grace and style and pitch-perfect stories that seem to get better with each installment. For the Daedalus trilogy, however, the story simply…ended. I told the tale I wished to tell, and the telling was worthwhile.
And now, as I embark on a new project–the Cold War paranormal spy thriller series titled MAJESTIC-12–I’m faced with complete strangers, living in a strange new world. The four-color interplanetary adventure, the sailing ships in space, the Big Damn Heroes–they’ve been replaced by threats from the shadows, questionable motives and the sound of a gunshot from a silenced pistol.
It’s daunting. Who are these new players? Ordinary Americans, affected by an unknown force, have become Variants–empowered by something beyond science’s ability to explain. And yet the government seeks to use them anyway, to make them “assets” in a Cold War that could grow hot at any moment. What would that do to people? How would they see themselves, and how would they be seen in turn by the people who hope to control them?
It’s thrilling. As a writer, I’ve spent more than three years in a world of my own devising, and I’ve grown comfortable with it. I knew the world, I knew the people in it. I could tell their stories with greater confidence and greater success each time I returned to them. The crutches are gone, now. It’s all fresh and new, and all on me to start from scratch and see if lightning can strike twice.
I’m back to square one. Characters are newly sketched and allowed to grow as the story unfolds. The tone shifts from proper English of the early 19th century to the weary, clipped words of the late 1940s. The jungles of Venus are gone, and the cobbled streets of newly Communist Prague beckon.
It’s a new beginning, but it’s not really starting over. As much as I created Weatherby and Jain, they taught me so much in the telling of their stories. They may sail forth into the stars on their own, but their lessons apply. I’m no longer the rookie writer, the wannabe hoping the literary agent e-mails back. (She did that four years ago.) I’m published and I’ve been extremely fortunate in that regard.
And now I get to play in a new world–different and darker, more nuanced and with more challenges for me as a writer. I get to forge mysteries and plumb the gray areas. I get to figure out who these new characters are–Frank and Maggie, Cal and Ellis and Danny. Soldiers in a Cold War.
Goodbye, Daedalus. It’s perhaps odd to want to thank your own creation, but…thanks.
Hello, MAJESTIC-12. Let’s do this.
About the author
Michael J. Martinez is the author of the Daedalus trilogy, a multi-genre epic that marries Napoleonic Era naval adventure with science fiction and fantasy. His debut, The Daedalus Incident, was named one of the top five SF/F novels of the year by Library Journal. Publishers Weekly gave The Venusian Gambit, the final book of the series, a starred review and said Martinez “seamlessly blends popular elements from science fiction and fantasy, producing a work that raises the bar for both.”
His short fiction has been published online by Paizo and in the Cthulhu Fhtagn! anthology released this summer by Word Horde. His newest short story will be published this fall in Unidentified Funny Objects 4, alongside stories by Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, Piers Anthony and Esther Freisner. He lives in the New York City area with his wonderful and patient wife, an amazing daughter and The Best Cat in the World. He blogs at michaeljmartinez.net and is on Twitter at @mikemartinez72.
6 thoughts on “Michael J. Martinez Guest Post–“Goodbye and Hello: Moving On to a New Series””
I’m not a big fan of *reading* single volumes in endless book series—and, often enough, the later volumes have little in common with the early volumes other than the names of the characters. Sometimes, too, it’s the promise of resolution, that when (or if) it comes, doesn’t live up to what it’s done before.
I’ll dip into some series books, sometimes by accident…but, often as not, I’ve lost interest by the time other volumes come out. Generally I’ll avoid them, at least till they’re complete.
I am a big fan of saying what one has to say within *one* book…
I guess single book vs. series is all a matter of perspective. Each has their strengths and drawbacks and, with all literature, the quality varies widely. That being the case, I prefer to comment on the form rather than the content for the purposes of responding to this post.
I look at series differently. Besides the obvious way publishers monetize ongoing series, I think the rise of episodic television in general and miniseries in particular has changed the way readers consume content. If a great many readers like the content (i.e., Game of Thrones, Wheel of Time) the series could go on indefinitely (and sometime do) much to the delight of this large audience. The same could be said of television series such as Bonanza! in the 60s, M*A*S*H in the 70s/80s, and then emerging cable series such as The Sopranos that allowed a larger, more definitive canvas upon which the screenwriters could tell less tractable stories without fear of cancellation after a handful of airings. Viewers got invested in these stories and characters, just as readers get invested in the created worlds of SFF. Again, the publishers are giving average readers what they think they want. And if a certain series doesn’t sell, just like TV shows that get poor ratings, they get cancelled.
As relates to The Deadalus trilogy, which I have not read, Martinez states that his story is done; it took three books and I imagine a great deal of world-building and character arcing, but if there is nothing left to tell and yet it continues then you have jumped the shark. Of course, there is always the money – such as it is – but for now let’s leave that from the equation. Of course there will be fans of the series that will be disappointed that the “further adventures of…” go no further, I’m sure they’ll get over it. So a tip of the cap to Martinez to move on for the right reasons into a new adventure, instead of being forced to regurgitate Deadalus until it becomes but a shadow of itself.
I’ve begun to read the trilogy late, but I will finish very fast.
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while I was researching on Yahoo for something else, Anyhow I am here
now and would just like to say thanks a lot for a
incredible post and a all round entertaining blog (I also love
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Please do keep up the fantastic jo.
I love this trilogy!!!