A runaway and a girl who falls from the sky must outrun an alien invasion. Before they meet up, they will see aliens slaughter thousands, witness a fusion blast, and find themselves pressed into service as soldiers. They and those they join with will become the Children of Amargosa.
This was the first Compact Universe book written, though not the first story I wrote. As I started work on this in 2012, there was no Tishla, no Challenger, only six kids, a mysterious pilot named Suicide, and a brutal species called the Gelt. I did not even know at the time that the Gelt could listen to languages and pick them up in hours. I knew nothing, Jon Snow. Not even Jon Snow’s name. (Hadn’t watched Game of Thrones yet.)
The original story was much longer. I had started with JT’s escape from what he would later call “the gilded cage.” That part made for a great story: Escape aboard a freighter bound for humanity’s richest and most popular world, finding out the hard way what wormhole sickness was, and adapting to an alien landscape. Also, it had a new spin on the farmer’s daughter trope. Unfortunately, I needed two protags, and the scenes from Davra’s point of view made for dull reading.
I took out JT’s initial arrival and stay on Amargosa and made it into Gimme Shelter. In order for Children to start properly, I need ‘splosions! So, Davra, not whiny, pre-farmboy JT, is the first person we see in a trailer-worthy sequence: A fourteen-year-old girl shoved into an airlock and launched into space seconds before her space station home explodes. JT’s story begins literally minutes after the end of Gimme Shelter, with he and Lizzy, now his girlfriend, running across the field as the station appears as a big fireball in the sky. Looking back on it, it now reminds me of a town in Twister finding out tornadoes are coming.
There are actually seven kids in this in the beginning. One of them witnesses her father blown up, another finds her own family slaughtered. JT and Davra have the common theme of learning they have more skills than they suspected. They don’t, however, discover super powers so much as improvising out of a strong desire to stay not dead.
Children was intended to be a trilogy only. I’d finish it and move on to something else. Only, I needed to know who the Gelt were. So, I wrote The First One’s Free, which became The Magic Root, which became The Roots of War. I also needed to know about the guy who sparked the Gelt invasion. So I wrote The Marilynists, which was almost something Elvis related. (I’m not a huge Elvis fan, preferring Pink Floyd and a lot of jazz these days. So, no cult to Elvis.) These made up a pre-Children trilogy dubbed The Seeds of War. Children begat Broken Skies and Warped, while Roots spawned Tishla. Now I had a second trilogy that dovetails nicely into Second Wave. I expanded on the premise with a newsletter novella that turned into a novel, No Marigolds in the Promised Land, which shows how the Gelt began their invasion without humans really knowing about it. The Amortals expanded on The Marilynists while The Exile served as a coda to Tishla. Add Flight Blade, which sets up Storming Amargosa.
And after several rewrites, I thought Storming would finish the series, I could write a completely new universe, and maybe even break into trad pub. And then someone on the Keystroke Medium group on Facebook mentioned having an entire series spin up in their head while they slept. I locked my computer at work, and headed to the restroom, thinking there, but for the grace of God, go…
Dammit. Came back to my desk with the Suicide arc spun up and ready to go. I wish my crime fiction came this easily.