I wouldn’t have thought my first writing contract would be in Science Fiction.
Let me amend that. The WARS universe has all the makings of a classic Space Opera. Sure, there is some concrete scientific theory behind the universe, throw in some quantum mechanics, yada yada yada. I never was big on the whole science aspect of Science Fiction. Unless it’s Michael Crichton. Then we’re talking Dinosaurs and Time-Travel. I digress.
I am an Epic Fantasy guy. I read Fantasy constantly. I’ve taken the occasional break from Fantasy to read John Scalzi, Kay Kenyon, Robert Buettner and David J. Williams, or the Star Wars novels. In the cases of three of those authors, I got their books for free. I even will admit to having an Epic Space Opera plot gathering dust on my hard drive. But I never thought I’d get a start writing in this genre.
It is the way of things for authors. We never know where or when that next step will come.
The wonderful thing about writing for WARS is the universe is ours to make. There is a backstory for which Decipher hired Michael A. Stackpole to develop, and some short fiction written by Stackpole and a few others. The game cards merely give you a name, some game attributes, and a picture for the characters. All of the short fiction and cards, however, apply to the characters after an event called the Mumon Rift. Our stories take place before all this. We have a wide open playing field, the characters are essentially our own to develop, the universe is ours to command! To control! I feel like Jafar at the end of Aladdin before he got sucked into the lamp.
The frightening thing about writing for WARS is the universe is ours to make. WARS developed a small but devoted following right out of the gate, because the game mechanics were essentially the same as the Star Wars Collectible Card Game, also first created by Decipher. For me, it’s a bit like walking a tightrope with no net and no pole. In the dark. In a hurricane. You mean no one can tell me what this character is like? You mean no one knows what the Mavericks (my faction) were doing at this point in the timeline? You mean I have almost total creative freedom and autonomy? It sounds nice, but bear with me.
I am responsible for coming up with a cogent and engaging plot. I am responsible to maintain the tone and feel of the game, so those who liked the game will read it–so those who never even heard of the game will read it. I am responsible for making this so good, they can’t help but keep coming back to me to write more. I am responsible for making other publishers jealous that they didn’t get me first. I am responsible for backing all this up.
There is not just the aspect of writing in someone else’s universe that is essentially ours to make. This doesn’t take place in a galaxy far, far away, on planets with twin suns, or that are global urban landscapes. This happens right here in our solar system. But it doesn’t even just take place on Earth, or the Moon, or Mars. I have to know what Ganymede, Io, Europa and Callisto are like. What is the surface like? What is the makeup of the atmosphere, landscape and soil? What on earth (or off) is a 1:2:4 orbital resonance, and how does it affect the inhabitants? Why would a person practice genetic enhancement and mechanical augmentation on their own bodies, and what are the benefits or consequences?
These aren’t little things like how far a horse can ride in a day, how one stays warm in a drafty castle or what people do without indoor plumbing.
The beautiful thing is I am not the only one invested in making this project work. There are four other authors and a publisher, and we are all here to help each other. I may be the only one writing for the Maverick faction, but I am not alone.