Feb 07 2012

Last Night I Dreamt I Went to Manderley, Again…

Kudos to anyone who recognizes the famous first line of this blog post.  But last night before I reported in for work, Sam Redfeather and I had a chance to polish off the last bit of The Chains of Error and I wanted to write on my feelings about this endeavor.  Sam hasn’t had a chance to upload the whole deal, just yet, but since it’s only a matter of time and I had some ideas fresh in my head… no time like the present, right? 

The idea for Chains came up in 2009.  I had started reading a lot of Gibraltar and talking to some of the other United Trek authors on TrekBBS.  Full Speed Ahead began in 2006, but I hadn’t released the “pilot” episode for the series until late 2007/early 2008.  It was generating some buzz on TrekBBS (back when I was a frequent visitor), and since Sam was there, too, it was a perfect opportunity to talk about his series and characters.  Eventually, that discussion turned to moving FSA into United Trek and so later that year, we announced the inclusion of the stories and characters for FSA into the dynamic and storied universe.

The Chains of Error document listing

What Sam and I would look at while we were working on this together. (Google Docs)

The next year, Sam and I were talking about how cool it would be to have some of our characters interact.  By this time, David Falkayn and CeJay had already used some of my FSA characters in one or two of their stories in cameo appearances.  CeJay actually managed to write an entire short with Leone and Ariel on Potemkin, which is not on Ad Astra (and I think that’s a crime!).  This time around, Sam and I had an idea to kind of progress the current story on Gibraltar but also exposing a bit about what’s going on with Leone, Ariel, and Kincaid in the future.  We spent a lot of time on email, bouncing ideas back and forth.  We used Google Docs a lot for drawing up an outline and possible titles for our project.

The Chains of Error possible titles

Back before we had a title, this was the list of possibles we went through until we settled on The Chains of Error. (Google Docs)

Although the mechanics of writing this in a collaborative fashion were interesting, there was a lot of benefit to working with Sam.  First of all, and I know I’m not alone in this opinion, but Sam is a fantastic writer.  When you’re writing alongside him, literally, it affects the way that you write.  In a manner of speaking, you want to be able to show a seamless method of constructing your prose so it’s not 100% clear as to who wrote what.  Every time we wrote together within the document, I could hardly keep myself from smiling all the time, because I really loved the work we did together.  Playing Pava and Ariel off of each other, or some of the awesome conversations between Sandhurst and Kincaid.  Our combat scenes were very well thought out as we worked together to figure what ship would be doing what, and coming up with some good tactic to use as we tried our best to make the firefights realistic.

What impressed me the most about Sam’s writing is that he’s as meticulous with his characters as I am mine.  There’s a method to every reaction, every emotional state and there are times when during our little chat sessions, it was getting easier and easier to try to predict how Sandhurst would react to one situation or another.  The most time you spend getting to know anyone, fictional or real, you get a sense for how they think.  As time went on, and I hope he doesn’t mind me saying this, I started to get it.  I’m sure that he felt the same way because there were times when he would write in for Kincaid or Ariel and it looked great.  I won’t tell you who wrote which whole scenes, either.  Part of the allure, for me, is seeing if anyone can pick and choose.  Sometimes, Sam wrote FSA, sometimes, I wrote Gibraltar.  Like I said, it was great to see us actually melding our writing styles together.

Even though it took us a little over two years to complete and over sixty thousand words, I am incredibly pleased with the result.  When the whole thing is finally available to all of our readers, I sincerely hope that you guys will say the same thing.

It is my fervent hope that this isn’t the last time he and I collaborate on a project.