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 The four-color interplanetary adventure, the sailing ships in space, the Big Damn Heroes–they’ve been replaced by threats from the shadows, questionable motives and the sound of a gunshot from a silenced pistol.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.