Suicide Is Not Painless

St. Jerome with skull on tableI normally don’t post about projects I have in the outline phase, but I’m striking on this one while the iron is hot. I want to talk about Suicide and the trilogy she will anchor.

For the unitiated, Suicide is the reclusive former Navy pilot and mercenary introduced in The Children of Amargosa. When we meet her, she lives in a shack by a lake, so far unaffected by the chaos that has (literally) fallen on Amargosa. JT Austin and his new bride Lizzy are sent at gunpoint to find her. The warlord Kray hopes he can convince Suicide to find two hidden jump ships to get the Compact to bolster his claim as the new governor. Suicide has other ideas and soon takes JT and the “meddling kids” under her wing. She appears next in Second Wave, where she leads a fractious team of resistance fighters to find a fallen Navy starship. She will play a smaller (but likely more important role) in Storming Amargosa. There. Now you’re caught up.

Suicide is easily the most popular character from the Amargosa books, so giving her a trilogy of her own makes sense. The relationship between her and JT, which takes on an unusual mother-and-son dynamic for an action series, gave me a direction to go. So I started by leaving a baby on Suicide’s doorstep and worked from there.

Some things that I’ve noticed as I wrote this:

  • I get to expand beyond the Compact, and I don’t mean Tishla’s newly minted not-Realm/not-Compact colony. I introduce a character who is a Zara, a race that I came up with because, hey, the Enterprise never visited the Planet of the Apes. They’re introduced in The Roots of War and make occasional appearances in other novellas. There’s a hilarious scene with them in the upcoming The Exile where a human has to adapt to traveling with a spacefaring race that still lives in trees. Beyond that, we also get to visit the Orags’ (Neanderthals’) homeworld. As I’m only nine chapters in, I don’t know where else we’re going outside the Compact yet.
  • I get to move around to new worlds of the Compact. So far, we return to Tian, revisit Marilyn from The Roots of War, and visit a new planet called Walton, which is not a fun place to be.
  • Part of the plan was to reveal Suicide’s background. Using Neal Asher’s device of using “retroacts” to reveal past events of a particular character’s life. As I go along with this, I decided in this story to focus on her origins as a pilot, including the fiancee whose ashes she now carries in a bullet locket. In the next book, I’ll show her time as a mercenary on the ironically named Aphrodite. In the third, how did she come to Amargosa, and some of the aspects of her relationship with JT not depicted in the earlier novels.
  • I often describe the Compact Universe as The Expanse meets Battlestar Galactica, or The Expanse with grav plates and FTL drives (and no protomolecule.) But by narrowing down the focus to Suicide and a handful of supporting characters, the story is already taking on a Firefly vibe. Time for another binge watch!
  • Michelle Yeoh remains the inspiration for this character.The others have evolved from their earlier inspirations, but Suicide is sort of a twist on the Obi-wan character, minus her protege slicing her in half and making her a Force ghost. (One more thing The Expanse pulls off that I can’t.)

I have two weeks to get this outline in the can and fermenting. After that, I’m using NaNoWriMo to rewrite Storming Amargosa. Again.