Torch Song for a Trilogy

When I started writing the Jake Samson-Rosie Vicente books I knew I’d be writing a series and thought of it that way. I unrolled their personalities and then let them grow and change through the various stories and settings.

Then the idea for Blackjack came long. I’d always loved dystopian, post-apocalyptic fiction. Anything that took place in the near future (think 1984—hard to believe that date was in the future when I read the book). Rica Marin’s name popped into my head and she became the protagonist—Rica Marin. Rich Marin.  A woman born to the California redwoods, in a country called Redwood, in a world divided into tiny warring states. The U.S. Balkanized. Most of the population gone by way of ecological disaster and germ warfare, and plague.

But also a world struggling to pull itself back together. A heroine working as a spy for anyone who will hire her, while wrestling with her own evolving morality. But more than just a mercenary—a singer of torch songs carrying a torch for a woman who had left her years before. Love, violence, hatred, war, confusion. Healing, too. The planet, the former U.S., and Rica.

I started to write it and found myself constructing an intricate and consistent fictional world that was also an easy extrapolation from the one we live in now. Pages and pages of notes about how people lived. Communications, medicine, weapons, vehicles, social norms. Understanding of their own terrifying history. I worked it all out. That process alone took a couple of years of working on it off and on while I wrote and did other things. Finally, much to my amazement, I considered it finished. Sold it. Saw it in hardcover. Saw some wonderful reviews.

But finishing that one book, then titled Blackjack, I knew the story was not over. This book came to its conclusions, but my outlines and notes didn’t. I worked out a story for a second book and a third. Rica and her friends and enemies just weren’t finished telling their story. I began a second book, but I still had other things to write.

When I moved Blackjack from one e-book publisher to another, it was time to go back to Rica. Blackjack, with some wonderful editing by Julie Smith at BooksBNimble, became Torch Song, first in the Blackjack Trilogy, and I finally began to focus on all of this story, from spy job to diplomacy to war, from alliance to attraction to love. From chaos to some kind of order that might actually work.

It’s such a big challenge, it scares me. But I’m loving it. One book done and out there, two to go.

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