The Incomparable

354: Sons of Caledonia


  the incomparable number 354 May 2017 [TS]

  welcome back everybody to the [TS]

  incomparable I'm your host Jason Snell [TS]

  this is a special bonus episode of being [TS]

  comparable with something that's only [TS]

  been done once before only a single [TS]

  guest it's Dan Lauren he just said Wow [TS]

  hi Dan hi Jason [TS]

  who was the other single guest well when [TS]

  we did the Miyazaki overview episode [TS]

  only Jon siracusa okay we're on it [TS]

  because nobody else wanted to be on it [TS]

  oh yeah that's like this show nobody [TS]

  else wanted to be on this episode either [TS]

  we've come a long way so people asked me [TS]

  if we were gonna cover the fact we've [TS]

  been talking you've been mentioning it [TS]

  on various podcasts that you that you [TS]

  write write novels and even work in [TS]

  novels and you're hoping to have a novel [TS]

  published and the plan here is that this [TS]

  episode will go out on the day that your [TS]

  first novel is published officially [TS]

  although I already received my copy in [TS]

  the mail as have many people the printed [TS]

  Edition the e-book will come out then [TS]

  it'll be available should be on shelves [TS]

  and bookstores all of these things [TS]

  should happen and everybody asked like [TS]

  well are you gonna do an incomparable [TS]

  episode and talk about is like well I [TS]

  don't think we should do a regular [TS]

  incomparable episode about the work of [TS]

  somebody who is one of our panelists cuz [TS]

  there's only a couple ways that can go [TS]

  yeah one of them could be very very bad [TS]

  right and the other would be super [TS]

  boring because it'll just be nice things [TS]

  about our friend in their book and [TS]

  that's also not good so I decided that [TS]

  maybe what we would do for this episode [TS]

  this bonus episode is for you and me to [TS]

  talk about about your your book in the [TS]

  process of writing your book and the [TS]

  story of of you putting this thing [TS]

  together because I think people will be [TS]

  interested in that people have been [TS]

  listening to this podcast for a long [TS]

  time have been hearing your voice you [TS]

  are are the most frequent panelist on [TS]

  the incomparable so I know hold that up [TS]

  I mean I'm there are there people [TS]

  nipping at my heels these days [TS]

  yeah well David Laura is on every [TS]

  episode of everything he says yes I have [TS]

  to just tell him no sometimes because he [TS]

  will always say yes so but yeah so I [TS]

  thought if that would be a way that we [TS]

  could do it is we could talk about the [TS]

  book and what's in it and how [TS]

  uuhh without you know spoiling it for [TS]

  people yeah well yeah maybe we'll do a [TS]

  little spoil horn at the end I don't [TS]

  know but and about the process because I [TS]

  think the process is interesting too as [TS]

  I have tweeted about before I have an [TS]

  email here from June 2010 and so almost [TS]

  seven years ago that is you sending [TS]

  along or offering to send along an [TS]

  e-book of your beta stage of your novel [TS]

  it's all the plot lines are firing [TS]

  smoothly but ironed out most of the more [TS]

  incidental problems but still a [TS]

  work-in-progress danger may abound that [TS]

  seems the accurate description of the [TS]

  first draft of many novel so let's back [TS]

  up from 2010 and and start with first [TS]

  let's start with where when did you [TS]

  write your first what you consider a [TS]

  your first novel to have you have [TS]

  written and and tell tell us how long it [TS]

  was from there to the thing that became [TS]

  the Caledonian gambit well the very [TS]

  first thing I'm sort of looking back to [TS]

  see what I can actually find here in [TS]

  terms of my early early attempts of [TS]

  writing things but I think the very [TS]

  first thing I finished and I've been [TS]

  trying to write novels for years I [TS]

  remember like I got a little better at [TS]

  it as it went along and I wrote some [TS]

  short stories here and there but never [TS]

  anything that I liked really I always [TS]

  wanted to write novels and let's write [TS]

  long stories because that's what I liked [TS]

  reading and I wanted the ability to be [TS]

  able to have all those things you can't [TS]

  do easily in a short story like little [TS]

  digression xand like world like you know [TS]

  the you can do some of these things [TS]

  short stories but you have to be very [TS]

  economical about it and I'm maybe not an [TS]

  economical person when it comes to [TS]

  writing and so creating a short story [TS]

  which is a very finely crafted like [TS]

  instrument in which everything is done [TS]

  with a purpose and everything has you [TS]

  know is very cool Ike carefully [TS]

  calculated it just it wasn't a medium [TS]

  that ever spoke to me I admire those who [TS]

  can who can craft it and wield it well [TS]

  because it's not an easy thing to do but [TS]

  I always really wanted to write longer [TS]

  stories and so [TS]

  over the years I've tried this in a [TS]

  number of you know different attempts [TS]

  and I think the furthest I got for a [TS]

  long time was when I lived abroad for a [TS]

  while in my junior year of college I [TS]

  think I got like maybe like twenty ten [TS]

  twenty thousand words into a story [TS]

  before realizing like I didn't really [TS]

  know what I was doing I didn't know [TS]

  where the plot was going I was just sort [TS]

  of putting one word after another and [TS]

  and sometimes that works but in this [TS]

  case I felt like realizing all the [TS]

  pacing was off and this story wasn't you [TS]

  know quite firing correctly so I ditched [TS]

  that but that was an idea that I had [TS]

  been working on since probably like [TS]

  after my freshman year of college and so [TS]

  after a couple years after I graduated [TS]

  college I was working as a web developer [TS]

  and an IT guy and I got kind of sick of [TS]

  that job and I thought you know I've [TS]

  always wanted to actually sit down and [TS]

  finish a novel and so I started working [TS]

  again on that idea and I started from [TS]

  scratch and I worked on it like my spare [TS]

  time you know around my job at night [TS]

  weekend's etc and my favorite story [TS]

  about that novel is that I finished that [TS]

  novel I liked I got to a point where I [TS]

  want to say was maybe August of 2004 or [TS]

  so and I I sort of was like I had gotten [TS]

  close enough I knew where the end was [TS]

  you know and I was very close to it and [TS]

  I remember that one day I realized you [TS]

  know okay I'm this is this is the last [TS]

  chapter like I know where I am and I can [TS]

  finish this in like another couple [TS]

  thousand words and I was at work it was [TS]

  a Friday and it was the middle of the [TS]

  summer in August and there was nothing [TS]

  going on so I sort of looked around [TS]

  realized nobody is paying any attention [TS]

  to me that nobody's in the office a lot [TS]

  of people on vacation so I fired up my [TS]

  word processor and I like I know exactly [TS]

  what I need to write and I like banged [TS]

  out the last couple thousand words of [TS]

  that novel while sitting at my desk [TS]

  Clow and that was the first thing I ever [TS]

  finished it like I remember sitting back [TS]

  and just like looking at going like oh [TS]

  my god I actually did it I actually [TS]

  finished a novel and and that was [TS]

  mind-blowing to me at 24 this thing that [TS]

  I had been you know thinking my entire [TS]

  life I something I wanted to do but I [TS]

  wasn't sure I would ever actually be [TS]

  able to do it so what what uh what novel [TS]

  is that is that something I've read or [TS]

  was that something that was just [TS]

  shook your head up deed something that [TS]

  you read is the driver that is the [TS]

  driver series uh-huh and I think I've [TS]

  got a copy here unfortunately um yeah I [TS]

  don't know unfortunately not not gonna [TS]

  read it [TS]

  um yeah I'm trying to find if I have [TS]

  like fortunately it was all written in [TS]

  like Apple works or something so some of [TS]

  these formats may be a little a little [TS]

  past their prime [TS]

  yeah so this was a post-apocalyptic [TS]

  series which involved a the main [TS]

  character was a driver he had a car [TS]

  essentially and there were two main [TS]

  characters one was this this driver [TS]

  named Nathan and the other one was a [TS]

  young woman named Ellen and it was sort [TS]

  of you know everything everything goes [TS]

  back to Star Wars with me Jason this was [TS]

  kind of an attempt to do a post a [TS]

  post-apocalyptic novel that was very [TS]

  much the hero's journey and I fell into [TS]

  some of my love of Star Wars it was I [TS]

  had that's that's my memory of it [TS]

  because I did read it and that is my [TS]

  memory of it is that it was very it was [TS]

  very hero's journey very Star Wars [TS]

  except set in this kind of earthbound [TS]

  post-apocalyptic setting but very Star [TS]

  Wars right down to you know kind of [TS]

  wizards and dark forces and things like [TS]

  that officer and I and everything I know [TS]

  so he was envisioned as a trilogy as is [TS]

  all fantasy stories Rudy obligated to be [TS]

  and I ended up I finished that one and [TS]

  around the time I finished that up or [TS]

  shortly thereafter was when I decided to [TS]

  leave my computer job and I did that by [TS]

  going I quit and I went to Ireland for a [TS]

  month actually with uh my friend Tony [TS]

  Sindelar yeah who was incomparable [TS]

  panelist he and I traveled around for a [TS]

  little bit [TS]

  with another friend of ours and during [TS]

  that time I started jotting down notes [TS]

  for the second book in that series I [TS]

  will note that you know not to not to [TS]

  discourage anybody but in general if [TS]

  you're like thinking from an actual [TS]

  practical like business point of view [TS]

  don't do that [TS]

  yeah because if you start in on a second [TS]

  book and the first book never sells then [TS]

  you've basically written a book that is [TS]

  not going to be saleable in its own [TS]

  right because you've written the middle [TS]

  of a story unless you're very very lucky [TS]

  it's real and you're like lois mcmaster [TS]

  bujold did that right where where she [TS]

  wrote what ended up being um [TS]

  the to Cordelia's honor is the is the [TS]

  the the omnibus version but she ended up [TS]

  writing one of those and putting it [TS]

  aside and then writing another book in [TS]

  the universe but it wasn't a direct [TS]

  continuation right right now would be [TS]

  like if yeah this would be like if you [TS]

  know George Lucas had made Empire [TS]

  Strikes Back like me which is a great [TS]

  movie but like trying to sell that [TS]

  without having Star Wars you know before [TS]

  it seems tough yeah and so you know it [TS]

  was good for me I'm glad that I did it [TS]

  because I learned a lot I felt like in [TS]

  that series every like I just kept [TS]

  getting better it was about honing my [TS]

  craft I felt like it really helped me [TS]

  improve and it was it was doing it which [TS]

  is the most important thing right it was [TS]

  not like sitting around thinking about [TS]

  how do I uh man I wonder figure out a [TS]

  novel no it was actually sitting down [TS]

  putting words on a page and you know in [TS]

  some ways there's you never lose out if [TS]

  you're if you're putting words on the [TS]

  page even if those words don't end up [TS]

  you know turning into something at least [TS]

  you you've done it it's like you know [TS]

  you've gone to the gym essentially [TS]

  you've exercised your creative skills so [TS]

  and it's true did you do NaNoWriMo I did [TS]

  at several times a four or five times I [TS]

  think that I actually finished it maybe [TS]

  more I don't remember um I worked on a [TS]

  couple different projects none of these [TS]

  were directly connected to this I want [TS]

  to say I have like 50,000 words of like [TS]

  a why a sci-fi novel somewhere that I [TS]

  worked on I have a hundred thousand word [TS]

  like sort of like literary quote unquote [TS]

  literary novel that I wrote which was [TS]

  like wow semi autobiographical thing [TS]

  that I wrote which I basically I did two [TS]

  years of that so yeah I did the first [TS]

  half of one year in second half and all [TS]

  of my all of my NaNoWriMo is like that I [TS]

  was just looking it up actually while we [TS]

  were talking because I wanted to figure [TS]

  out what what the three because I've [TS]

  written three novel in manuscripts and I [TS]

  wrote them all in blocks over to [TS]

  NaNoWriMo years and so that because I'm [TS]

  I answered the question of when what did [TS]

  I first finish a novel manuscript was [TS]

  was almost ten years ago it was November [TS]

  2007 because I did NaNoWriMo in 2006 and [TS]

  then finished that novel actually wrote [TS]

  during the year too and then finished [TS]

  the novel in in November 2007 because [TS]

  that manuscript like 150,000 words long [TS]

  and and so it's 250 thousand word blocks [TS]

  and then I did like in February I did my [TS]

  own little NaNoWriMo but you know a long [TS]

  time now and then and then I've got two [TS]

  others in a drawer but it goes to your [TS]

  point about going to the gym that [TS]

  NaNoWriMo and full disclosure I'm on the [TS]

  board of NaNoWriMo it's a nonprofit that [TS]

  runs the event and I because I believe [TS]

  in it but one of the things I really [TS]

  believe about it is you can see that the [TS]

  more you do it the more the rust falls [TS]

  off and the more it doesn't become [TS]

  easier but you it becomes you become [TS]

  more capable of doing it and it's it's [TS]

  no wonder that when you talk to a lot of [TS]

  writers not all writers but a lot of [TS]

  productive novelists like Stephen King [TS]

  the number that they say in terms of [TS]

  word count that they basically do in a [TS]

  day is not that far off from the [TS]

  NaNoWriMo word count it's basically the [TS]

  if you were a novelist you would write [TS]

  you know fifteen hundred words a day and [TS]

  you would be productive and the truth is [TS]

  that doesn't sound like a lot to me [TS]

  because I can write a I can pick out a [TS]

  Macworld column at 1,200 words the other [TS]

  day in a few hours but novel writing is [TS]

  harder than writing a column I find [TS]

  because you've got to keep your plot in [TS]

  your head and your characters and [TS]

  there's a lot more going on there but [TS]

  the the my point is if you keep up that [TS]

  pace every day for a month [TS]

  you've got fifty thousand words if you [TS]

  did it every day for two months you've [TS]

  basically got a normal sized novel and [TS]

  you can imagine that although it's not [TS]

  realistic even if you're Stephen King [TS]

  that means that if you wrote every day [TS]

  for a few hours you know in the span [TS]

  it's not like for 12 or 15 hours but [TS]

  like maybe for eight hours or six hours [TS]

  you could potentially write like six [TS]

  novels in a year now you wouldn't [TS]

  because you'd want to revise and other [TS]

  things but it's like it's all once you [TS]

  start to take the beyond the first step [TS]

  in the in the journey right the first [TS]

  step in the marathon you got to take the [TS]

  first step and then you take the next [TS]

  step and it's a process that leads to [TS]

  the end yeah you can't I mean no one's [TS]

  sitting down and writing a novel in a [TS]

  day probably maybe someone's done that [TS]

  but a very bad no it's probably not [TS]

  great you know so you know it is a that [TS]

  is I think the thing is daunting about [TS]

  it right it's a commitment you know just [TS]

  like driving for a 5k or something right [TS]

  I always like it marathon or a 5 or 10k [TS]

  or some other kind of personal [TS]

  achievement kind of in climbing a [TS]

  mountain it's kind of like that yeah [TS]

  yeah a marathon probably closer because [TS]

  like there are people who can go out and [TS]

  run a 5k without working you know [TS]

  without prepping themselves no sweat but [TS]

  a marathon is everybody has to train for [TS]

  a marathon [TS]

  yeah even even fantastic marathon [TS]

  runners yeah so it's it's a gradual [TS]

  process and you know between NaNoWriMo [TS]

  and writing some other stuff on the side [TS]

  you know I once asked I was at a book [TS]

  signing for Neil Stevenson and asked you [TS]

  know for his advice and his advice to me [TS]

  was and I think he may have said this [TS]

  house for two it was right 10,000 pages [TS]

  and throw him out and I feel like I got [TS]

  pretty good I don't know if I wrote [TS]

  10,000 pages throw him out but I wrote a [TS]

  lot of pages that are you know never [TS]

  gonna see the light of day basically [TS]

  yeah and so along those lines you know I [TS]

  worked on the sequel to that to that [TS]

  post-apocalyptic book I started in on [TS]

  the third book and never finished it as [TS]

  you know because you read the first two [TS]

  yeah and I know how it ends but I just [TS]

  like there's no point to writing it [TS]

  because I so that the forestay John has [TS]

  to tell me how it ends I'll tell you how [TS]

  it ends tell me Oh Ned's george RR [TS]

  martin as it's in my head but one of the [TS]

  funny things about that which I dug out [TS]

  around the time that I got my agent was [TS]

  I submitted that to my current now [TS]

  current agent and he turned it down [TS]

  I submitted to a few places and did not [TS]

  get you know nobody nobody wanted to [TS]

  take me on as a client on the basis of [TS]

  that write manuscript and probably [TS]

  rightly so because you know I wrote it [TS]

  when I was 24 I had never written a [TS]

  novel before I didn't really know what I [TS]

  was doing and it's not to say that that [TS]

  thing could not be turned into a [TS]

  workable novel but it was gonna you know [TS]

  it's like a house that needs to be taken [TS]

  down to the study you probably just just [TS]

  need to be ripped and probably start [TS]

  over yeah I mean I I've mentioned to you [TS]

  recently I like I think there are some [TS]

  some cool ideas in there that I might [TS]

  steal for for future stories so that's [TS]

  why I won't self-published them probably [TS]

  because I feel like they're still [TS]

  utility of them and also self-publishing [TS]

  stuff that you wrote 24 feel like [TS]

  doesn't really help your your eyebrow [TS]

  has it worked now if you if you end up [TS]

  on a roll where they're publishing your [TS]

  novels that's the time you dust that off [TS]

  and again you probably strip it for [TS]

  parts [TS]

  oh yeah [TS]

  anything else so how long ago did the [TS]

  did the idea for what became Caledonian [TS]

  gambit popped into your head and then [TS]

  what was the journey from there to [TS]

  actually having a finished manuscript to [TS]

  email me about I was thinking about this [TS]

  and I went back and fortunately I'm a [TS]

  digital pack rat so I keep everything so [TS]

  I was looking through my sort of old [TS]

  writing folder and I have a document [TS]

  called Eli dot cwk which is an Apple [TS]

  works document and it de is dated May [TS]

  20th [TS]

  hey that's tomorrow 2002 so 15 years ago [TS]

  years ago tomorrow as we record this oh [TS]

  yeah from years ago 15 years ago almost [TS]

  to the day of your publication day and [TS]

  and I think that was probably the first [TS]

  attempt to write a story I have notes [TS]

  and I recently when I at some point dug [TS]

  up my or cleaned a lot of stuff out of [TS]

  my parents attic I found a bunch of my [TS]

  notes from college and I found the [TS]

  notebook in which I remembered I had [TS]

  written started jotting down the ideas [TS]

  for this story which was probably also [TS]

  2002 or so about second semester senior [TS]

  year I think and that was because I had [TS]

  just been given the Vorkosigan novels by [TS]

  lois mcmaster bujold by my cousins and I [TS]

  was so enamored with them that I wanted [TS]

  to write a space opera that was similar [TS]

  to to those in the idea of like [TS]

  sprawling universe all these you know [TS]

  different factions political intrigue [TS]

  characters that grow and change [TS]

  throughout the course of a series like I [TS]

  was I I fell in love with those books [TS]

  and I wanted you know as we all do when [TS]

  we find something we really love and [TS]

  it's not like we run out of it because [TS]

  we consume all of it we're like what [TS]

  there's no there's no more what what if [TS]

  I could make more but like do my own [TS]

  thing so yeah I started that's when I [TS]

  started jotting down notes and stuff [TS]

  changed obviously you know that 15 years [TS]

  is a long road for a story most things [TS]

  probably don't don't live that long as [TS]

  an idea and this one I picked up and put [TS]

  down a bunch and I think the current [TS]

  version of it really dates back to [TS]

  probably two thousand eight or nine so I [TS]

  sent you in what 2010 we decided yep [TS]

  yeah so 2008 [TS]

  9:00 at which point I was already [TS]

  working for Macworld I don't know [TS]

  I see how some of this I can't really [TS]

  remember at this point honestly it's [TS]

  been so long but I you know I was again [TS]

  I was probably working on the side on [TS]

  like nights and weekends [TS]

  I don't think I did I like used [TS]

  NaNoWriMo as an excuse for this one I [TS]

  was actually looking at my Nana right Oh [TS]

  a dashboard when you mentioned it and [TS]

  realized none of my stuff's in there I [TS]

  think they changed sites and they erased [TS]

  their baby they wiped it out I only had [TS]

  one in there for my last one of 2011 and [TS]

  the rest weren't in there so I couldn't [TS]

  close it sadly I don't I have no idea [TS]

  the record is gone but yeah I've done um [TS]

  you know I think NaNoWriMo is great as [TS]

  we're just talking about for getting you [TS]

  started and once you feel like hey I am [TS]

  pretty confident what I'm doing you [TS]

  realize you don't you don't need that is [TS]

  a promise a crutch that's not you it's [TS]

  little pejorative but like you can you [TS]

  don't need the training wheels anymore [TS]

  yeah like hey I know how to bike I can [TS]

  do this you can do this all the time you [TS]

  can internal to wait till November right [TS]

  that way and so for me I got very [TS]

  comfortable in writing all the time and [TS]

  especially my day job at Macworld [TS]

  involved writing a lot and so I was very [TS]

  comfortable with it as like a process [TS]

  and so I figured you know I want to [TS]

  start back in and I got I think I was [TS]

  working on the third book in that driver [TS]

  series and I was like oh man I'm just [TS]

  totally jammed up on this like I don't [TS]

  really know what to what to do in it [TS]

  first book didn't do you know didn't get [TS]

  any bites and why am i working on the [TS]

  third book of a trilogy if I can't sell [TS]

  the first book and so I think it you [TS]

  know at a certain point I I sort of had [TS]

  to swallow my pride and be like that's [TS]

  not going anywhere let's work on [TS]

  something totally different and so I [TS]

  wrote I think what I wrote was probably [TS]

  the first thing I wrote was probably the [TS]

  it might have been the prologue for this [TS]

  book or ironically it might have been a [TS]

  version of the first chapter of the [TS]

  second book which will get to well house [TS]

  indeed and we'll get so yeah 2008-2009 [TS]

  was probably the first like when I [TS]

  started in working on what eventually [TS]

  become became the Caledonian gambit and [TS]

  of course it changed a lot in that [TS]

  period as even you saw in the time the [TS]

  you know that you read it yeah it [TS]

  definitely did [TS]

  um the the so 2010 you send it to me and [TS]

  I read it I remember reading it every [TS]

  year for a few years there when the kids [TS]

  were little we would go to this family [TS]

  camp up in the woods in the Sierras and [TS]

  I remember very distinctly sitting uh [TS]

  reading I think on I think not on a [TS]

  Kindle it might have been like on an [TS]

  iPhone yeah [TS]

  or actually could have been an iPad even [TS]

  right Jen right maybe it was the [TS]

  original iPad in iBooks I think that's [TS]

  what I did and not a Kindle because the [TS]

  Kindle that I had at that point had the [TS]

  you know the stupid keyboard it's not [TS]

  good anyway but I uh so the device isn't [TS]

  clear but I know it was a digital device [TS]

  and I was sitting there reading it like [TS]

  in a in a lounge chair kind of thing one [TS]

  of those like director Z chairs on dirt [TS]

  surrounded by trees in the National [TS]

  Forest in front of our tent cabin [TS]

  probably drinking a beer and reading and [TS]

  noting the book and I have a fond a fond [TS]

  clear memory of reading and writing [TS]

  notes about the book now you know [TS]

  keeping in mind that my my kids were way [TS]

  I mean it's been seven years right kids [TS]

  have changed a lot more than you and I [TS]

  have in the last seven years the and it [TS]

  was it definitely hit me at the time [TS]

  that knowing your love for the [TS]

  Vorkosigan series and having read all of [TS]

  those in a very short period of time [TS]

  because of your recommendations [TS]

  certainly I was reminded of of that kind [TS]

  of style of thing this this is actually [TS]

  two months before the incomparable by [TS]

  the way yeah right right this predates [TS]

  it so they insanely I just found a thank [TS]

  God I used to keep a blog somewhere [TS]

  I found a blog suggesting that I started [TS]

  it in March 2009 so right that was out [TS]

  Oh only about a year and a year and [TS]

  change before I sent it to you yes so [TS]

  you wrote wrote it across 2009 basically [TS]

  in the beginning of 2010 that first [TS]

  draft of it so I remember reading it I [TS]

  remember I remember my notes of it a [TS]

  little bit mostly that my complaint was [TS]

  that your main character seemed like an [TS]

  idiot yeah yeah yeah that's fair um I [TS]

  I'm not sure how much I fixed that but I [TS]

  hope no I don't I don't [TS]

  feel that way anymore because I read I [TS]

  read another draft of it much later and [TS]

  no I mean it was just funny that was [TS]

  that I remember that being one of my [TS]

  main I mean I found a bunch of little [TS]

  things I think about like oh I what [TS]

  about this and this seems to consistent [TS]

  in all of that but what my overarching [TS]

  thing I think was that I had some [TS]

  confusion about the two viewpoints [TS]

  because there are sort of two viewpoint [TS]

  characters in the book and my [TS]

  frustration that your main character [TS]

  seemed to be a little bit passive and [TS]

  got a little bit taken advantage of by [TS]

  other characters to the point like I [TS]

  wanted to see him sort of like have more [TS]

  struggle or or or feel you know figure [TS]

  things out a little bit back a little [TS]

  yeah because he just seemed like he was [TS]

  giving because I mean the story in broad [TS]

  strokes without spoiling it you end up [TS]

  with this your main character kind of [TS]

  has a homecoming that's kind of a [TS]

  reluctant homecoming and it we as we [TS]

  learn more about his family life and his [TS]

  life back where he grew up you can see [TS]

  that there's some very strong [TS]

  personalities and you can see why he [TS]

  left [TS]

  honestly you see why he left and I think [TS]

  the challenge in the first rap that I [TS]

  had was that when he returns back it [TS]

  feels like he's just going back to being [TS]

  ping ponged around by these other people [TS]

  in his life and I think I think in the [TS]

  final version that isn't there that that [TS]

  you see why he left and and why there [TS]

  are all these issues but you also see [TS]

  that he's his own person and he's making [TS]

  his own decisions and he's he's not kind [TS]

  of like there occasionally he's hapless [TS]

  because he's learning about this new [TS]

  kind of world that's opened up to him [TS]

  but he's never dumb about it like he the [TS]

  decisions he makes or the things he gets [TS]

  steered into I don't feel like he's [TS]

  doing it because he's been cowed or [TS]

  because he's clueless and that that was [TS]

  a for me that was like one of the key [TS]

  points is I want to root for this guy [TS]

  but every time he does something I was [TS]

  thinking you idiot why are you doing [TS]

  that and I think that and that's a [TS]

  subtle thing but I think you managed to [TS]

  navigate that a little bit in making him [TS]

  see him a little bit well you know more [TS]

  capable and and like when he get when he [TS]

  does something that is dumb he does it [TS]

  for reasons right it's not it really [TS]

  turn out to be a regrettable later but [TS]

  he does it for good reasons well the [TS]

  thing and it's the thing we often [TS]

  complain about you know when we critique [TS]

  television shows for example or other [TS]

  things where people do things that [TS]

  think are dumb and the Emmy we always [TS]

  like why did you do that and then the [TS]

  answer it's like because that's what the [TS]

  script told them to do right you don't [TS]

  want you don't ever feel like you're [TS]

  your character is doing something [TS]

  because the plot demands that they do [TS]

  this thing even though it makes no sense [TS]

  right like even if they're going to do [TS]

  something dumb or make a mistake which [TS]

  characters have to do because they're [TS]

  flawed and that's what makes stories [TS]

  interesting is conflict and mistakes and [TS]

  and that's our jazz you want to make it [TS]

  make it seem like there was a reason [TS]

  there was a rationale even if it was a [TS]

  bad rationale there was a reason that [TS]

  they did what they did yeah right like [TS]

  this character is put under pressure in [TS]

  a certain way psychological pressure [TS]

  physical pressure and they react and as [TS]

  long as it makes sense because because I [TS]

  mean also a subtle thing right is you [TS]

  don't want you want people to like your [TS]

  protagonist right yeah and not feel [TS]

  unless you're writing a like a detective [TS]

  that's deliberately unlikable well you [TS]

  wanna be yeah you wanna understand why [TS]

  they do what they do and and be and [TS]

  identify them in some with them in some [TS]

  way and and if if if you like come on [TS]

  dummy why did you do that that's not you [TS]

  takes you out of the story so that I [TS]

  remember that and definitely I was that [TS]

  was a change that that made I don't know [TS]

  what else you want to talk about about [TS]

  the changes that you made along the way [TS]

  because I know that there was a [TS]

  different you know you kind of backed up [TS]

  the opening of the book at one point and [TS]

  then you kind of the final the final [TS]

  book opens very much like the the draft [TS]

  I read was you can went there and then [TS]

  went away from it it went through some [TS]

  changes and so a lot of these came as a [TS]

  result of getting a working with the man [TS]

  who is now my agent so let's let's and [TS]

  let's let's talk about that yeah let's [TS]

  talk about that for a moment so you did [TS]

  ultimately get an agent what was that [TS]

  process what happened with that so for [TS]

  several years I was going to well I [TS]

  guess I only went like once when I was [TS]

  younger in like my mid-20s I went to vos [TS]

  con which is a local science fiction con [TS]

  and at the time I went which I think was [TS]

  2006 it was in downtown Boston it since [TS]

  moved to the over near the Convention [TS]

  Center but a you know it was just a [TS]

  chance to like go and and see some [TS]

  interesting writers george RR martin was [TS]

  there cory doctorow was there I mean [TS]

  people that you know I knew and admired [TS]

  I also thought hey I've written a book [TS]

  at this point like maybe this is an [TS]

  interesting way to like network a little [TS]

  bit [TS]

  and so I went to try and do that and I [TS]

  had an interesting experience and really [TS]

  like felt like I came away opened up to [TS]

  a new sort of slice of fandom right like [TS]

  kansai not I've been to other like I've [TS]

  been Somani made conventions some video [TS]

  game convention stuff like that I've [TS]

  been to Macworld like but there was not [TS]

  I had never really been to a [TS]

  science-fiction con and so that was an [TS]

  interesting experience several years [TS]

  later I sort of stopped going for a [TS]

  while and then several years later I [TS]

  went back and around 2000 G's 2012 [TS]

  probably I so I had gone to boss Con in [TS]

  February or so and I was looking at [TS]

  panels and I saw a panel by a guy named [TS]

  Mike Cole was a writer and I had read a [TS]

  blog post by him I'm only a month or so [TS]

  earlier maybe linked to by John Scalzi [TS]

  or something talking about just how hard [TS]

  it was to make a living as a full-time [TS]

  writer which Mike was trying to do at [TS]

  that point and he was Mike was very open [TS]

  about like how his books were doing the [TS]

  kind of money he was making you know the [TS]

  fact that he wants to live in in you [TS]

  know New York City and how like making [TS]

  you know even with books that did pretty [TS]

  well it was still really really uphill [TS]

  climb and I thought it was fascinating [TS]

  and it was also just you know it was not [TS]

  a rosy picture but it was a picture that [TS]

  said like you can do this it's just [TS]

  gonna be really hard and so I went and [TS]

  saw Mike on a panel and later on a lot [TS]

  of these cons do these things called [TS]

  coffee klatches where you just sort of [TS]

  sit down at a table [TS]

  yeah with someone and so I signed up for [TS]

  Mike's and I sat down and we ended up [TS]

  chatting and Mike again very generous [TS]

  with his time was like hey you know as [TS]

  soon as we sat down it's like I'm sure a [TS]

  lot of you want to be writers and are [TS]

  trying to figure out how to break in the [TS]

  business so if you've got questions ask [TS]

  me I will answer him I will tell you [TS]

  anything and so we had a very [TS]

  interesting discussion this whole coffee [TS]

  table and and we were done I was talking [TS]

  to Mike a little bit and he said like [TS]

  yeah you seem like a like a nice guy [TS]

  like you seem very like approachable [TS]

  very personable like you can talk to [TS]

  people whole like and you you know we [TS]

  talked a little bit about like my book [TS]

  and stuff and then his agent was man [TS]

  named Joshua Vilnius walked up and [TS]

  Joshua reps some pretty well-known [TS]

  people [TS]

  including Charlaine Harris who wrote the [TS]

  stuff that True Blood is based on and [TS]

  brand recently very very well-known [TS]

  fancy author and Joshua and I started [TS]

  talking and I mentioned it was very [TS]

  helpful at that point mentioned I'm a [TS]

  full time writer I'm a professional [TS]

  writer right for a technology magazine [TS]

  and we ended up chatting for a while and [TS]

  discovered that like he was very [TS]

  interested in like picking my brain [TS]

  about technology stuff too and we had [TS]

  some common interests we both avid [TS]

  crossword doers and so we talked for a [TS]

  while and at the end I said hey you know [TS]

  I've got this book I would love to send [TS]

  it to you can I do that he said sure and [TS]

  he gave me his card night I sent it off [TS]

  and he eventually read it and sent me [TS]

  back a whole bunch of comments and his [TS]

  comments were sort of like I've cut my [TS]

  am look at the email now cuz I'm super [TS]

  curious to say what he said at the time [TS]

  it's like yeah it was it was really nice [TS]

  to meet you I really get into the book [TS]

  and then he talked about sort of like [TS]

  you know he thought there was promise in [TS]

  it and he thought like I could put some [TS]

  sentences together there was just some [TS]

  stuff that needs to be worked on [TS]

  there were stuff that need to be cut [TS]

  there was deadweight there was you know [TS]

  stuff that was just kind of overwrought [TS]

  and sort of killed his interest in it [TS]

  and he said like well you know what this [TS]

  this isn't problems here but there's you [TS]

  know I looked at some of the other stuff [TS]

  and it seems like there's some promise [TS]

  so you know work on it I'd be interested [TS]

  to take another look at some point now [TS]

  that's huge I don't know you know to [TS]

  talk to our audience for a second if [TS]

  you've ever tried to write into an agent [TS]

  and submit a manuscript most of the time [TS]

  the best you can hope for is like a [TS]

  pretty you know form response is just [TS]

  like sorry this wasn't for me and I've [TS]

  gotten my fair share of those both on [TS]

  the editorial submissions as well as on [TS]

  agents you know agent queries and you [TS]

  know that's kind of disheartening right [TS]

  like you know even if it's just it's not [TS]

  for me it makes you feel it's rejection [TS]

  right it's a bummer but to get something [TS]

  back that was you know if not an [TS]

  acceptance at least a I read this here [TS]

  are bunch and I'm looking at this email [TS]

  it's fairly long it's like a page long [TS]

  and so you know with specific notes [TS]

  about things to look at and the fact [TS]

  that some [TS]

  one who is as busy as he is took the [TS]

  time to read through and give me [TS]

  specific pointers was incredibly [TS]

  generous and like incredibly you know he [TS]

  was willing to commit his time to do [TS]

  that and that is HUGE because it gave me [TS]

  something to say like I all right yet [TS]

  work that needs to be done here I can go [TS]

  back and I can keep working on this and [TS]

  he might be willing to look at another [TS]

  draft on somebody who knows about novels [TS]

  and how they were right and and and you [TS]

  know he's viewing a also slightly [TS]

  different perspective which is he's [TS]

  viewing from the perspective not just if [TS]

  somebody in the business and not [TS]

  somebody who doesn't have any reason to [TS]

  tell you that they're like your book but [TS]

  also he's thinking not just if a novel [TS]

  he likes he's thinking of novels that he [TS]

  knows that have sold right and he's he's [TS]

  also yeah he's also looking at you know [TS]

  sometimes it's about the book but a lot [TS]

  of times it's usually about the writer [TS]

  which is to say if a agent looks at a [TS]

  book and thinks this book you know it's [TS]

  not for me but it's you know there's [TS]

  clearly something this provide this [TS]

  person who promised are duly surprised [TS]

  like yeah you you sometimes they will [TS]

  talk to you and work with you and you [TS]

  know like maybe say like not this but [TS]

  like when you've got something else let [TS]

  me know [TS]

  and so because they're looking you know [TS]

  a good agent is looking for someone [TS]

  who's gonna have a career right like [TS]

  they don't want to sell a book they want [TS]

  to sell a lot of books like and they [TS]

  want you to have a long career in which [TS]

  you're gonna sell a bunch of books [TS]

  because that's how they make their money [TS]

  right like they make a commission on [TS]

  selling stuff right so they it's in [TS]

  their best interest for you to have a [TS]

  long and fruitful writing career in fact [TS]

  it seems to me that that the business [TS]

  model of many agents including yours is [TS]

  you place a bunch of bets and absolutely [TS]

  and some of them will hit and you get [TS]

  your Brandon Sanderson and some of them [TS]

  won't know they'll write they'll be okay [TS]

  or they'll write a couple of books and [TS]

  they won't really go anywhere but you [TS]

  place the bets you find people that you [TS]

  want to place a bet on and then see what [TS]

  happens yeah I mean it's a lot like it's [TS]

  a lot like a lot of the entertainment [TS]

  industry like think about movies right [TS]

  studios put out a bunch of movies a year [TS]

  and they have those tentpoles where it's [TS]

  like this is our like big blockbuster or [TS]

  summer blockbuster it's going to make a [TS]

  ton of money and we're going to use that [TS]

  to essentially fund a lot of our other [TS]

  yes that are maybe not going to make as [TS]

  much money and so you know if you have a [TS]

  huge client who does really well that [TS]

  enables you to take chances on new [TS]

  people and yeah like you said that might [TS]

  pay off you might find the next Brandon [TS]

  Sanderson you might find the next George [TS]

  are Martin rights how you do it no [TS]

  that's how you do it you can find start [TS]

  and find talent and and identify it and [TS]

  and so he gave you he gave you feedback [TS]

  that let you go away and I mean I I did [TS]

  something similar because I paid Saladin [TS]

  Ahmed for a for a critique of my most [TS]

  recent manuscript in it similarly it was [TS]

  like it was a lot about this is too much [TS]

  you got too much detail here this is a [TS]

  waste you need to delete this you need [TS]

  to change this and it was great because [TS]

  again same thing right he has no reason [TS]

  to do anything except give me the truth [TS]

  and that's what I wanted from somebody [TS]

  who's written an award-winning novel and [TS]

  has taught creative writing and it's [TS]

  like it's super valuable to get that [TS]

  perspective so you take it away and then [TS]

  then you spend how much time working on [TS]

  the book after that a couple years yeah [TS]

  because we saw we stayed in touch which [TS]

  is great because he would send me emails [TS]

  every once a while like often not about [TS]

  book stuff at all he was some emails [TS]

  about Matt like Apple stuff like because [TS]

  he'd see you know me writing about you [TS]

  know whatever announcements came out and [TS]

  he would just shoot me these aleem ales [TS]

  well I got what do you think about this [TS]

  thing or we talk about crosswords or [TS]

  stuff so like we end up kind of becoming [TS]

  friends which was nice and then every [TS]

  once awhile I would have a new draft and [TS]

  I would send it over to him but I think [TS]

  I you know it was basically back and [TS]

  forth until I want to say it was 2015 it [TS]

  was only a couple years ago at this [TS]

  point that I'd gone back and forth with [TS]

  him and one of his other agents at the [TS]

  agency a Sam Morgan who is since left [TS]

  the agency and is off doing his own [TS]

  literary agent enough elsewhere and Sam [TS]

  Joshua both gave me a bunch of great [TS]

  like you know feedback as I went through [TS]

  the drafts but it was it was a couple [TS]

  years until I think it was summer 2015 [TS]

  that I finally got the call like you [TS]

  know what we we read this last draft [TS]

  there's a couple minor things we want to [TS]

  tweak but we think on the basis of this [TS]

  it's good enough that we we'd love to [TS]

  have you as a client and that was that [TS]

  was probably like you know there's a lot [TS]

  of moments where you get to like feel [TS]

  like take the win right like celebrate [TS]

  and I think that was for me that was [TS]

  really the first one where it was like [TS]

  I have not only did I get that that call [TS]

  to say you know we want to bring you on [TS]

  and we're going to try to sell this but [TS]

  you know it was a testament to the fact [TS]

  that my butt off for like two years you [TS]

  know making all these changes and [TS]

  revising and to it was a it was proof to [TS]

  me that I could not only sit down and [TS]

  write a novel as I did like finishing [TS]

  that first one but that I could actually [TS]

  then do the hard work because writing [TS]

  you know putting one word in front of [TS]

  the other seems hard but really it's [TS]

  it's figuring out what order to put them [TS]

  in as I always say and so the amount of [TS]

  time you spent like writing that first [TS]

  novel you know rewriting it is gonna be [TS]

  more probably and it's harder if it [TS]

  feels harder to be way harder it's like [TS]

  playing Jenga right like it's like oh my [TS]

  god if I take this brick out right here [TS]

  with this whole thing fell fall over and [TS]

  I think I tried to talk a little bit [TS]

  about this in a talk I did once at a [TS]

  singleton the conference in Montreal but [TS]

  like it's it's trying to get yourself [TS]

  out of that mindset that like oh my my [TS]

  story is this delicate spiderweb and if [TS]

  I break this one strand the whole thing [TS]

  will fall apart and trying to get [TS]

  yourself more into the mindset of my [TS]

  story is like a like a piece of iron [TS]

  that is being worked in a forge right [TS]

  where you're hammering on it to make it [TS]

  like temper it to make it stronger than [TS]

  the thing that was or you know [TS]

  originally rightly you take a sword and [TS]

  it's all about folding the metal and [TS]

  like hammering it and trying to [TS]

  reinforce it to the point where it's [TS]

  like it's not going to break immediately [TS]

  and you can hammer on something pretty [TS]

  hard and and try to sort of work it into [TS]

  the right shape and and that's that's [TS]

  what you're going for when you're [TS]

  rewriting and otherwise like you just [TS]

  sort of get paralyzed with fear that [TS]

  anything that you change will break [TS]

  everything yeah and it's not the case [TS]

  stories are pretty resilient in that way [TS]

  and you can always fix it is the good [TS]

  news you got to be bold you got and yeah [TS]

  that's the goods to your kill your [TS]

  darlings thing to would you gold and not [TS]

  be afraid that you're gonna roll over [TS]

  something that maybe something you're [TS]

  really proud of and but it doesn't fit [TS]

  and so you just got to be I'm just [TS]

  passionate about like it's gone yeah [TS]

  yeah I mean sometimes there are things [TS]

  that you should fight for that are good [TS]

  and you know they're good and you got to [TS]

  trust your gut and say like no this is [TS]

  good I need to find a way to make this [TS]

  work but yeah you can't get hung up on [TS]

  that one thing that is preventing [TS]

  everything else from working right like [TS]

  if it's if it's one [TS]

  thing preventing the rest of the story [TS]

  from working that's got to go but if [TS]

  it's one thing that's like oh it just [TS]

  doesn't quite fit then you know figure [TS]

  out a way to make it fit yeah but two [TS]

  years yeah so two years until I got the [TS]

  the deal for that I think actually you [TS]

  know what that must have been right [TS]

  before that was right before we were all [TS]

  at sass one yeah 2015 right because I [TS]

  met I met your agents and getting a task [TS]

  one and and Josh said to me [TS]

  what do you have in nonfiction I'm like [TS]

  all I got a signed sci-fi novels - I [TS]

  don't have any nonfiction for you it's [TS]

  like I'm really excited about a little [TS]

  about like a nonfiction narrative I'm [TS]

  like oh man I can't yeah I I keep [TS]

  thinking about it like I was fine I'll [TS]

  have anything for that he's a he's a [TS]

  character it was fun meeting those guys [TS]

  and yes you got to go there and at least [TS]

  be repped by an agent right yep and and [TS]

  but the process wasn't over because you [TS]

  had to make changes and things like that [TS]

  and then they had to go through the [TS]

  process of trying to sell your book yeah [TS]

  and that's another whole long one - yeah [TS]

  it's always like one it's like a video [TS]

  game level you beat that level the next [TS]

  level is harder right yeah and so you [TS]

  know that basically involves sending out [TS]

  you know they craft a query letter which [TS]

  is basically kind of a lot like the [TS]

  thing that you send to an agent right [TS]

  when you're when you're trying to pitch [TS]

  your book to them and but obviously they [TS]

  have a little more experience of doing [TS]

  this and they have relationships with [TS]

  editors which is great and so we spent [TS]

  some time working on a query letter for [TS]

  the story you know full plot synopsis [TS]

  describing it talking about me a little [TS]

  bit and then sending that out to a bunch [TS]

  editors and then you get the long period [TS]

  of waiting for the editors to get back [TS]

  and this is basically very similar to [TS]

  like sending stuff out to agents which [TS]

  is to say most editors are going to turn [TS]

  you down could be for a variety of [TS]

  reasons they might again maybe it's just [TS]

  not a story that resonates with them [TS]

  maybe it just doesn't fit in with like [TS]

  their their what they're working on or [TS]

  their marketing or their style or tone [TS]

  any variety of things maybe they don't [TS]

  have money for it [TS]

  who knows and so we went through a lot [TS]

  maybe somewhere between 10 15 different [TS]

  publishers before we found the deal that [TS]

  we wanted and I should mention actually [TS]

  as an interesting part of this which is [TS]

  something I forget sometimes probably [TS]

  in-between me [TS]

  the first draft of this and actually [TS]

  getting signed by an agent I at one [TS]

  point submitted this to the small [TS]

  publisher called angry robot [TS]

  uh-huh and they had a everyone smile [TS]

  they hold open submissions and I sent my [TS]

  book in for that and it got to the point [TS]

  of they requested the whole manuscript [TS]

  and and they did not eventually like you [TS]

  know offer to buy it but they you know [TS]

  it got pretty far in that process and [TS]

  then some books came out I think um I [TS]

  think was choose uh lives of Tao came [TS]

  out of that so you know like their books [TS]

  real books came out of that so I felt [TS]

  like heartened by that that even though [TS]

  they didn't want to buy it like it had [TS]

  you know again past a certain sniff test [TS]

  so that was exciting and in fact we [TS]

  submitted to them you know when we were [TS]

  doing eight submissions editorial they [TS]

  still didn't buy it but hey that's fine [TS]

  I like that's already yeah right someone [TS]

  that actually I feel like maybe some of [TS]

  them do you remember it I don't know I [TS]

  felt like it got better in that time but [TS]

  yeah you know not to get too much down [TS]

  the weeds of the editorial process but [TS]

  you get a lot of comments back I got [TS]

  some very nice comments by people who [TS]

  are like oh man I really there's things [TS]

  I really like about this but ultimately [TS]

  I just it didn't work for me in some way [TS]

  or you know and like that's depressing [TS]

  too because you're like wait what didn't [TS]

  work what didn't work what can I fix but [TS]

  you know you're just looking for the [TS]

  right editor so what was the process of [TS]

  finally you know did you get did you get [TS]

  offers and and how did you make that you [TS]

  know without getting you know I know you [TS]

  don't one of the things you don't want [TS]

  to disclose but like how did that had [TS]

  the deal get made there we ended up [TS]

  getting two offers both of which were [TS]

  had their virtues and we ended up going [TS]

  with the author from Talos press which [TS]

  is a imprint of skyhorse and if just you [TS]

  know some of that was was purely like a [TS]

  business decision in terms of like you [TS]

  know what they what the terms of the [TS]

  offer were and so you know I ended up [TS]

  I'm working with a editor there named [TS]

  Jason Katzman and he seemed excited [TS]

  about the book which was great and the [TS]

  terms were were ones that were [TS]

  you know Amina Bowl to all parties so we [TS]

  signed that deal and at that point then [TS]

  that's that's another good example of [TS]

  you could you sign that deal and you're [TS]

  like great I've signed a deal for a book [TS]

  when's my book come out and I sign that [TS]

  deal like over a year ago you know so um [TS]

  so next tip is you know if you get to [TS]

  that point you sign a book deal [TS]

  keep working because otherwise you know [TS]

  you're gonna bask on you know basking [TS]

  the Sun for a while about that and they [TS]

  realize wow this this deal this doesn't [TS]

  come out for a year and I'm not gonna I [TS]

  can't just sit around and wait for it to [TS]

  come out I gotta keep working otherwise [TS]

  when it does come out I won't have [TS]

  anything else to like push forward so [TS]

  this is where writing becomes like a job [TS]

  because you know you can never quite sit [TS]

  back and relax yeah you had to you had [TS]

  to to keep working as it went through [TS]

  the process I was gonna you mentioned [TS]

  that there's a sequel I did did no are [TS]

  you going against your own advice there [TS]

  by writing another book in this universe [TS]

  when you don't know how well this book [TS]

  is going to do and later it's gonna hurt [TS]

  a sequel I am 100% going against my own [TS]

  advice yeah and I had written that [TS]

  actually before I signed with the agency [TS]

  certainly because you read that too and [TS]

  you had that I don't know when but [TS]

  probably not too long after you read the [TS]

  early versions of the Caledonian gambit [TS]

  you probably read that it probably a [TS]

  couple years later because I kind of [TS]

  jumped in on that and I knew I shouldn't [TS]

  but at the same time part of me felt [TS]

  like well these books are not it's not a [TS]

  trilogy it's not intended to be a like [TS]

  beginning middle end of like books it's [TS]

  they're more episodic and so I thought [TS]

  to myself well you know I have an idea [TS]

  for a story and worst case scenario you [TS]

  know if the first book doesn't do well [TS]

  maybe I can redo this and make this the [TS]

  first book or sell this first as lois [TS]

  mcmaster bujold did and so I kind of you [TS]

  know I guess my better judgment went and [TS]

  did that and that book is still in the [TS]

  works I don't have too much else to say [TS]

  about it directly I'm still working on [TS]

  it [TS]

  it's a getting feedback and I'm [TS]

  be close to a draft I think that myself [TS]

  and my agent are both happy with which [TS]

  is a good process and then some of that [TS]

  will depend on seeing how well the [TS]

  Caledonian game it does so rest assured [TS]

  that if you've if you've read it and you [TS]

  like it there is potentially more to [TS]

  come but obviously you know that depends [TS]

  on how well the book does so you know [TS]

  tell your friends he'll ever tell [TS]

  everybody rated on Amazon rated on [TS]

  Goodreads read reviews etc if you like [TS]

  it and you want to see more so that's [TS]

  how that works so let's talk a little [TS]

  bit about the book without without [TS]

  spoiling it so that it's science fiction [TS]

  it's you've got a can you talk a little [TS]

  about where this is set because it's got [TS]

  a very particular as these space operas [TS]

  often do it's got a very particular kind [TS]

  of politics set up that is you know it's [TS]

  like geopolitics except instead it's [TS]

  Galactus politics collect a political I [TS]

  as I call it was kind of a mouthful yeah [TS]

  this is set in said well I'm working you [TS]

  know the timeline is not specified in [TS]

  the first book but it's a few hundred [TS]

  years in the future the galaxy has [TS]

  expanded there are still this is kind of [TS]

  notable they're still like humans in [TS]

  this in this galaxy it's so you know [TS]

  there are no aliens the worlds that have [TS]

  been settled are mainly connected via [TS]

  wormholes and there are these gates that [TS]

  sort of prop the wormholes open and let [TS]

  you travel between these solar systems [TS]

  and over the last twenty years or so [TS]

  there's been this cold war going on and [TS]

  I mean it started it started as an [TS]

  actual war this the lyric and Empire [TS]

  invaded this was a group of former Earth [TS]

  colonists and they sort of were ticked [TS]

  off by the way they felt like they had [TS]

  been treated by earth and so they [TS]

  invaded earth and took over the other [TS]

  colonies several of the other colonies [TS]

  including the planet caldonia which is [TS]

  obviously in the title and which is [TS]

  where our protagonist is from and then [TS]

  over time it sort of settled into this [TS]

  cold war where the remnants the people [TS]

  who are not conquered by the lyric ins [TS]

  have sort of formed formed this ad-hoc [TS]

  commonwealth of independent systems to [TS]

  basically resist [TS]

  and the way that it's sort of shaken out [TS]

  is that they they end up you know kind [TS]

  of in one of these Cold War mutually [TS]

  assured destruction scenarios where [TS]

  they've got these two superpowers and [TS]

  they're kind of staring each other down [TS]

  but right now everything is kind of calm [TS]

  before the storm so there's there's no [TS]

  open warfare but there are occasionally [TS]

  maybe some skirmishes and of course it [TS]

  gives us a great opportunity for spies [TS]

  and covert agents to do all their [TS]

  sneaking around right so it's you get [TS]

  the sense that maybe there's a there's a [TS]

  change on the horizon but for now a cold [TS]

  war there's a balance of power that at [TS]

  least temporarily has been put in place [TS]

  between these two factions of humans who [TS]

  have different collections of plants now [TS]

  Caledonia you mentioned one of the [TS]

  concepts I think and correct me if I'm [TS]

  wrong here that is that a lot of these [TS]

  planets what ends up happening is that [TS]

  there are colonists that that colonize [TS]

  them that are at least in some cases [TS]

  largely from particular nations on earth [TS]

  and so you end up with kind of you know [TS]

  a planet with a more homogeneous culture [TS]

  than you might otherwise expect is that [TS]

  right because Caledonia seems to be has [TS]

  a strong Irish Scottish kind of flavor [TS]

  to it yeah and in this case a lot of [TS]

  that comes from the people who were the [TS]

  founders of the colony and therefore [TS]

  were like kind of had a vested interest [TS]

  in pushing their own cultural agenda and [TS]

  it's not to say that there aren't people [TS]

  from all you know all Heritage's and [TS]

  backgrounds but just that that has [TS]

  evolved to become and sort of like with [TS]

  with with some melange from some other [TS]

  cultures but it sort of evolved to [TS]

  become the the main culture on that [TS]

  planet and and yeah so that's it's a [TS]

  result sort of of the unwanted the [TS]

  ruling class but like sort of the people [TS]

  who were in the the upper echelons of [TS]

  that that colony when it got settled [TS]

  alright and so presumably other planets [TS]

  have do do well are all planets in these [TS]

  in this universe like that or are there [TS]

  do they vary about whether they're super [TS]

  very culturally tied or not at all I [TS]

  would say they they largely vary there [TS]

  are some with much more much stronger [TS]

  cultural identities and then others [TS]

  which are more melting pots it really [TS]

  depends on where you go and you know [TS]

  sort of who is there first and all the [TS]

  ways those cultures to sort of evolve as [TS]

  they go along but you know yeah in the [TS]

  we haven't we haven't spent too much [TS]

  time on other planets you know in this [TS]

  first book really focuses largely on [TS]

  caldonia and so they have a very very as [TS]

  you said a very distinct culture which [TS]

  is very heavily Celtic in origin now [TS]

  while that just came from [TS]

  I spent my a lot of time in Scotland and [TS]

  Ireland at various points right and I [TS]

  enjoyed the culture of it and I wanted [TS]

  to sort of work that into a yeah I think [TS]

  I again try not to give too much away [TS]

  but also it has a little bit of a flavor [TS]

  of they're there at a few points I got a [TS]

  flavor of like you know kind of IRA kind [TS]

  of right there's some there's a little [TS]

  bit of crime and maybe maybe there's a [TS]

  little bit of terrorism and it's all [TS]

  just kind of hanging around there which [TS]

  which that that was the flavor that I [TS]

  got out of yeah no absolutely that's [TS]

  that's that was another certainly [TS]

  another influence as I said I did go to [TS]

  Ireland for a while after finishing that [TS]

  first book and I I did get to visit some [TS]

  of the sites that are tied very closely [TS]

  to to Irish history and Irish [TS]

  nationalism and that definitely [TS]

  influenced my my thinking on that the [TS]

  evolution of that planet you go you go - [TS]

  yeah well that's right when I was [TS]

  thinking of Northern Ireland in the IRA [TS]

  but but you're right I think you can't [TS]

  set you really can't go around a corner [TS]

  in Ireland without running into some [TS]

  monument for somebody who basically [TS]

  killed a lot of English people yep [TS]

  English soldiers who were yeah that's [TS]

  that's that's part of the national [TS]

  identity there is throwing throwing off [TS]

  the the English so um well what else [TS]

  what else should people what else should [TS]

  people know about the setting of this to [TS]

  get them interested in reading this book [TS]

  if they have not yet what do you think [TS]

  um yeah I I think what intrigues me [TS]

  about it I mentioned already that that [TS]

  people are all there this is all human [TS]

  and I think that that's a big part of it [TS]

  for me as you know i I've read books [TS]

  that I've enjoyed where aliens are done [TS]

  very well but I have a lot of times [TS]

  where I feel like sometimes you know you [TS]

  look at like class [TS]

  Star Trek and like even next generation [TS]

  and people are just like ah aliens you [TS]

  know this is like people with funny [TS]

  foreheads and something about that I [TS]

  always found a little off-putting and so [TS]

  I really wanted to like delve into that [TS]

  and so you know that's a big part of it [TS]

  we've also got I think the the nature of [TS]

  intersystem travel and how that setup [TS]

  works towards making this an interesting [TS]

  universe because these things become [TS]

  strategic like where you can get it's [TS]

  kind of like having bridges right like [TS]

  where you can get and what the natural [TS]

  environment prevents you from doing [TS]

  makes a difference in terms of where you [TS]

  can easily like deploy military ships [TS]

  where are the lines drawn between these [TS]

  different superpowers like how does that [TS]

  play out in terms of getting people back [TS]

  and forth across borders like I think [TS]

  that's to me that was interesting rather [TS]

  than just having a much more open galaxy [TS]

  like you might see in something like [TS]

  Star Wars or Star Trek where it's like [TS]

  well you know like there are some [TS]

  political lines but like your your [TS]

  faster-than-light technology whatever [TS]

  lets you go anywhere you want [TS]

  essentially just whether or not you [TS]

  should be there whereas in this it's [TS]

  like well there's only certain routes to [TS]

  get between certain places so that [TS]

  becomes a matter of strategic importance [TS]

  it becomes a matter of military [TS]

  importance and its really it becomes [TS]

  integral to this story too I like the I [TS]

  like that it's strategic is the word [TS]

  that I was searching for there to that [TS]

  with with the Vorkosigan books with [TS]

  something like like Lost fleet is like [TS]

  that [TS]

  the the new Empire series by Scalzi uses [TS]

  this conceit of the you know jump gates [TS]

  basically Babylon 5 there are lots of [TS]

  examples of this but it does add that [TS]

  strategic Geographic thing it also feels [TS]

  a little bit like ticket to ride or [TS]

  something like that right was like favor [TS]

  everything is connected [TS]

  sometimes by weird routes but it means [TS]

  that you can cut somebody off and if [TS]

  everybody can just go everywhere it's uh [TS]

  it's that that's a different kind of [TS]

  galactic political situation to use [TS]

  you're right right now full of a of a [TS]

  friends so but it is I would say I [TS]

  haven't read this book several times in [TS]

  several different forms that this is [TS]

  this if I were to say [TS]

  it what this book is I would say it is a [TS]

  story about human beings who and and [TS]

  their relationships with with each other [TS]

  set inside a thriller about things with [TS]

  Galacta political consequences it's like [TS]

  those are the shells for me it's like at [TS]

  its core this is about not just [TS]

  relationships between people but [TS]

  especially like familial relationships [TS]

  and your main character is dealing with [TS]

  family history and baggage and cultural [TS]

  baggage and a and a planet that he [TS]

  basically fled a home he fled for [TS]

  reasons and then that's the core and [TS]

  then just outside of that is there is a [TS]

  there is a spy action thriller kind of [TS]

  plot that has to happen that he's [TS]

  involved with he gets caught up in and [TS]

  then outside that is all of the the [TS]

  political ramifications on the galaxy [TS]

  spanning scale of what's going on which [TS]

  is a nice it's a nice little turducken [TS]

  of a different story [TS]

  things happening there but people should [TS]

  I'd say some people I think read a space [TS]

  opera books for like galactic battles [TS]

  and details of made-up made-up weapons [TS]

  and made-up ships and things like that [TS]

  like tell me about this imaginary gun [TS]

  and how it fires and that's great [TS]

  this is that you've got some you know [TS]

  you've got some tech you've got some [TS]

  space tech and you got some some [TS]

  interesting stuff on that level but I I [TS]

  what I like about it is that at its [TS]

  heart you've got human characters and [TS]

  how they their baggage and how they [TS]

  react to each other actually if you go [TS]

  up the chain is going to affect the [TS]

  future the galaxy and that's pretty cool [TS]

  right right well I mean that and that is [TS]

  what I set out to do it's because that [TS]

  was one of the things I really loved [TS]

  about the Vorkosigan saga and also about [TS]

  stuff like um I really loved Timothy [TS]

  Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy [TS]

  I like people who are recognizable as [TS]

  people the expanse does this really well [TS]

  to you know people who are recognizable [TS]

  as people and I've read some sci-fi that [TS]

  is like we're you know like set so far [TS]

  in the future and it's post singularity [TS]

  and people aren't even human anymore [TS]

  right like and that's one type of thing [TS]

  but it's not something that a that [TS]

  speaks to me I wanted characters who [TS]

  have the same [TS]

  you know I I think you go you know for [TS]

  400 years in the future and people are [TS]

  still people and they have the same [TS]

  fears and hopes and dreams and [TS]

  attachments and conflicts that we have [TS]

  even today you know whether it be family [TS]

  or coworkers you know they're dealing [TS]

  with essentially very similar problems [TS]

  to you know ones that would be instantly [TS]

  recognizable to anybody who picks up [TS]

  this book and so that's that was what I [TS]

  was shooting for it was to make people [TS]

  who felt very human and are you know [TS]

  dealing with problems that are not [TS]

  totally alien to the kind of stuff that [TS]

  we all all have to deal with every day [TS]

  yeah no I think I think you did that and [TS]

  it's a fun it's a fun book I think [TS]

  people especially I do think you live up [TS]

  to your um how do I put this [TS]

  I can tell your love of the Vorkosigan [TS]

  books when I read it like I can [TS]

  recognize that and I love those books [TS]

  too and they're fun and I I had that [TS]

  same feeling of I wish there were more [TS]

  books like this where there are very [TS]

  interesting human characters but they [TS]

  get their problems are played out over [TS]

  this galactic spectacle which is fun I [TS]

  mean it's it's fun and I hope I hope [TS]

  people find it fun in even funny at [TS]

  farts oh yeah sure you know attempts to [TS]

  put in here where the the tone that I [TS]

  feel like I kind of shoot for and I [TS]

  don't know if this will be off-putting [TS]

  to some people or not but the the tone [TS]

  is kind of like that Marvel movie sort [TS]

  of tone where it's like there are [TS]

  serious moments of drama but there's [TS]

  also a lot of levity yeah and there's [TS]

  action and and stuff like that but like [TS]

  it's very very digestible yeah well so [TS]

  you've got you you definitely have [TS]

  characters with senses of humor and it [TS]

  comes out in different ways which is [TS]

  which is fun that that yeah it's [TS]

  definitely not as super serious like no [TS]

  no this is science fiction we must be [TS]

  serious it's not like that either so [TS]

  yeah well it's I guess available where [TS]

  books are sold [TS]

  yeah that hopefully I mean you can [TS]

  certainly find it on Amazon Barnes & [TS]

  Noble iBooks all those places you can [TS]

  check your local bookstore if they don't [TS]

  have it they'll probably order it for [TS]

  you no audio book yet but we can hope [TS]

  right that there might be down the road [TS]

  it's unclear right now is that right on [TS]

  unclear I don't I don't know don't [TS]

  really have anything to announce about [TS]

  that but [TS]

  I'm hopeful that at some point that will [TS]

  be something that people can enjoy yeah [TS]

  well that would be good that'd be good [TS]

  yeah cuz some people want audiobooks and [TS]

  that's yeah some people do want to [TS]

  what's the deal the deal you made with a [TS]

  publisher was not audio book publishing [TS]

  deal it was a print me book deal so any [TS]

  anything that would happen it would [TS]

  happen at some other time so we'll see [TS]

  I hope so though that would be nice yeah [TS]

  we're worse that comes to worse the [TS]

  incomparable will read your book dan [TS]

  [Music] [TS]

  people pay for that right they'll [TS]

  totally pay for that everybody take a [TS]

  page yep [TS]

  oh that now there's an idea now that [TS]

  seems like it really it seems like no [TS]

  one would have a good time with that [TS]

  including especially the listeners [TS]

  anything we didn't cover that you would [TS]

  like to cover in this special all day on [TS]

  Episode oh wow yeah that's a lot of [TS]

  pressure I'm trying to think if there's [TS]

  anything I mean I guess the short answer [TS]

  would be you know I feel like we have we [TS]

  have a great audience at the [TS]

  incomparable and I think that's been a [TS]

  huge help to me in over this time like [TS]

  people have been really very supportive [TS]

  and I've gotten a ton of tweets about [TS]

  people buying the book which is just [TS]

  incredibly heartwarming for me on [TS]

  something that I've worked for so long [TS]

  and really strove for for so long and I [TS]

  really appreciate everybody who bought [TS]

  the book I really appreciate everybody [TS]

  who's going to buy the book as you all [TS]

  are I'm sure but I also you know kind of [TS]

  want to say like hey I'm you know I [TS]

  started this out as like I think all [TS]

  writers pretty much I started out as a [TS]

  fan and you know to those of you who are [TS]

  sitting out there listening who maybe [TS]

  thought like I'd like to write a book [TS]

  someday I guess I just want to tell you [TS]

  that you can do this like it's not I [TS]

  showed you that that it is an achievable [TS]

  goal it's going to be hard it's going to [TS]

  take a ton of work but if you feel like [TS]

  that's something you want to do then you [TS]

  can absolutely do it and you know feel [TS]

  free to reach out to me I don't [TS]

  certainly this I'm embarking upon a new [TS]

  section of my own life here so I don't [TS]

  know that I will have all the answers or [TS]

  even any of you [TS]

  even any of you [TS]

  answers but I will try you know I try to [TS]

  sort of pay that forward as people have [TS]

  in the past paid it forward for me to [TS]

  try and help out and you know see if [TS]

  people can achieve that so know that you [TS]

  can do this and if you need help or [TS]

  advice feel free to to hit me up Twitter [TS]

  on my website what have you but [TS]

  especially we comparable fans cuz I'm [TS]

  I'm I'm one of you guys Dan you're [TS]

  making me want to go back to my novel [TS]

  rewrite it's an irony just that thanks [TS]

  which I've read it I've read several of [TS]

  your books [TS]

  yeah and and I feel like there's there's [TS]

  some really good stories there that I [TS]

  would love to see shared with more [TS]

  people that's a nice Monday would be [TS]

  nice and it's doable Jason it can be [TS]

  done it I've seen it be done and you [TS]

  know an agent you know a guy so - I do I [TS]

  know if you get well I'll get on that I [TS]

  I have to say quitting my job and going [TS]

  out on my own or or leaving my job I [TS]

  quit it and I didn't go out of my own [TS]

  because they kept me and then I left my [TS]

  job but uh that that threw threw a [TS]

  wrench into all of my kind of like [TS]

  separation between different projects [TS]

  and I that the writing the rewrites have [TS]

  struggled because of that like I always [TS]

  had that like I could write another six [TS]

  colors post and I need I need to block [TS]

  off time and say no at this time write [TS]

  your novel dummy it's an it's an it's an [TS]

  investment and honestly you know you and [TS]

  I both left at the same time yep and [TS]

  that was helpful for me because it [TS]

  really gave me an impetus to be like I'm [TS]

  gonna get this job focused focuses [TS]

  behind a little yeah so I really yeah I [TS]

  really had to kick my own but at that [TS]

  point be like you know what you've [TS]

  always wanted to do this and you're [TS]

  never gonna have a better opportunity [TS]

  yeah well and here you are so they can't [TS]

  act [TS]

  they can't take this away from you [TS]

  published on again horrid recall unless [TS]

  they run around for comment on all the [TS]

  bookstores Mitchell Brooks it's done no [TS]

  not that one just read the books alright [TS]

  well thank you Dan and thanks everybody [TS]

  for listening to this all day an epic [TS]

  comfortable the Caledonian gambit by Dan [TS]

  Morin is a published book from talos [TS]

  press that you can go by and you should [TS]

  buy it and buy two copies buy five [TS]

  copies give them to your friends or just [TS]

  leave them on a shelf somewhere and hug [TS]

  them occasionally whatever more I'm sure [TS]

  you'll hear more from Dan in the future [TS]

  in that you listen to a podcast Danis on [TS]

  of course [TS]

  and thanks for listening to the [TS]

  incomparable goodbye [TS]

  you [TS]

  [Music] [TS]