Some stuff about the Line and Orbit sequel

[NOTE FROM THE FUTURE (January 2014): Fall and Rising as it currently stands is being extensively rewritten and looks almost nothing like this now. If you Googled your way here looking for info, bear in mind that none of this applies anymore. Thank you and farewell from the future.]

I’m almost 50k words into this thing, which means we have – according to my calculations – reached the approximate halfway point. I know it’s slightly risky business to talk about a book in progress, especially given that it may look very different by the time it’s published, but I do think there are some things I can say about it with a particular degree of certainty. Which is… pretty certain.

So for those who care about such stuff, here – for your edification – are some things about the Line and Orbit sequel.

  • It’s called Fall and Rising. For now. Of the two novels I’ve sold so far, neither of them ended up with the title they had at the start, so I know by now not to be too sure about that side of the business. Still, this is what I’m calling it unless/until it changes.
  • Adam and Lochlan are not the focus. They had their book. What I wanted to do here was take the opportunity to explore some of the secondary characters of Line and Orbit, to tell their stories. That doesn’t mean that familiar characters won’t be making an appearance; they will, that’s rather the point. But the focus is different. (And given that the first book was – perhaps questionably – marketed as M/M romance, it’ll be interesting to see how that goes over.)
  • It’s much darker. The body count at the end of Line and Orbit was pretty high – we’re talking about something like a thousand people or so – and not as many people have died so far in Fall and Rising, but I think by the end Line and Orbit will have been beaten. It starts off in a bad place, with all the characters in desperate circumstances, and goes downhill from there. Which is a lot of what the title is suggesting. But of course, the title is also suggesting something else.I was watching Star Wars: Episode One the other day – yes, I realize that it was a very questionable decision, but hey, we had the Rifftrax – and I noticed something I hadn’t before. (By the way, Episode One is actually a great and massive lesson on how not to write a story. I learn new things every time I watch it. I strongly believe that every writer should.) Anyway, what I noticed was that, although this is a movie that ostensibly deals with some Very Serious Themes – themes like slavery and the privation of massive numbers of people and war and death – you see hardly any of the characters really suffering. Nothing truly bad happens to any of them, and you have fucking Jar Jar Binks running around being a racist clown in the middle of a battle where people are dying so when something like the death of Qui-Gon Jinn happens, it has no narrative weight. Nothing does. Everyone is basically safe. You never see anyone really suffer, so you never get the sense that anything meaningful is at stake.

    Of course, Lucas also can’t write suffering for shit. Watch the other two prequels if you don’t believe me. I’m telling you, they’re a giant storytelling master class.

    So people need to suffer. People you care about need to suffer. Otherwise there’s no point. And we’re working up to a pretty big climax in the third and final book. So people are going to be hurting.

  • If the primary theme of Line and Orbit was ecology (and how family kind of sucks sometimes) the primary theme of Fall and Rising appears to be terrorism. Specifically, under what circumstances terrorism might be, if not justified, then at least understandable. It’s been very interesting and increasingly troubling writing these parts; I’m very aware that readers may have problems with this aspect. I think I have some problems with it. But I also think that’s the point. I don’t want this book to be comfortable. I hope people will be willing to go there with me even if it’s uncomfortable for all of us.
  • It’s not romance. Neither was Line and Orbit, if it comes to that, though it was marketed that way, and that seems to have (understandably) confused some people and disappointed others. So getting this out there up front: Not romance. There are romantic elements, but they aren’t the focus. Relationships between characters, though – love, loyalty, hatred, sacrifice, the horrible choices we make to save people we care about, the meaning of survival – those things are a focus. So hopefully we all come out of this happy, one way or another.

As I said, the book is just about halfway done, and I’m aiming to have it finished by the end of the summer. After that there’s naturally a lengthy editing process and such, but I’m hoping to have it released in 2014.

I’m super excited about it, guys. I really hope you like it.

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