I've been wrapped up completely in a super-secret little project that is a lot of fun, too. And as it goes when you're having fun, time flies. It's already August, and I do wonder where the previous seven months went.
One of the things I did this year was edit/rewrite Rhianon Etzweiler's and mine "Dark Edge of Honor", which is our military gay sci-fi romance/thriller.
Here's the blurb:
Sergei Stolkov is a faithful officer, though his deepest desires go against the Doctrine. A captain with the invading Coalition forces, he believes that self-sacrifice is the most heroic act and his own needs are only valid if they serve the state.
Mike, an operative planted within Cirokko's rebels, has been ordered to seduce Sergei and pry from him the Coalition's military secrets. His mission is a success, but as he captures Sergei's heart, Mike is tempted by his own charade and falls in love.
When the hostile natives of the planet Cirokko make their move, all seems lost. Can Mike and Sergei survive when the Coalition's internal affairs division takes an interest in what happened in the dusty mountains of Zasidka Pass...?
It's a sizeable novel at 96k (and you can pre-order it here), and it presents a different version of one my favourite characters ever.
See, Vadim Krasnorada of the epic Special Forces series began as a paratrooper character named Sergei, back in 1995, when I wrote one of my first stories with explicit sex. Sergei burst onto the stage, scarred, messed up, clearly traumatized, and in that story I killed him in a restroom in Frankfurt, protecting a man who was most definitely not worth it.
The character has haunted me since then. I call him the "Sergei type", and he feels like somebody I know incredibly well. I used the character in many ways and incarnations. One of my print-published novels was about another "Sergei", in this case, however, he chose love and life rather than death. The main difference? This Sergei was less giving and more taking - but just as stoic as the first one.
One short story and one novel in, I still hadn't exorcised the "Sergei type". There was still stuff to talk about, still things he'd do and I found interesting. When the time came again that I needed a character to write something, I examined the character again and decided to use the "Sergei type" again - but this time, I'd make him a "golden boy", somebody special and admired (the other two Sergeis never were). I also made him very, very intelligent and pretty educated (the other Sergeis weren't - I'd assume one of them was almost illiterate).
That way, Vadim Krasnorada was born, probably one of my favourite characters. The rest is history - one million words of "Special Forces", all free here.
Yet, I *still* wasn't done. In "Special Forces", Vadim is about thirty, and he's already a tough bastard with combat experience and a lot of experienced that have hardened him against the world. He's also aware he's gay, and he's forcing other men to submit to him. He'd an institutionalised rapist when we meet him.
Yet, throughout the book, there's the hint of a different Vadim. One who's softer, more idealistic, who wants to believe in Communism and is all bright-eyed and idealistic. I do love writing idealists, and I do love the conflict between an ideology (any ideology - religion or political identity) and the individual. I can't stay away from exploring themes of honor, identity, duty, and I assume I'll do that for the rest of my creative life.
In short, there was no space to explore Vadim's younger years, his idealism and honor, his struggle with the political system he'd been born into. I wanted to explore those bits of the "Sergei type" - how do we mature and how do we become the people we are?
So, I teamed up with Rhianon Etzweiler (who was starting work on a military novel) and pitched her this idea. She welcomed me as a co-writer, and I brought the "Sergei type", now just "Sergei" - this time young, idealistic, very much still discovering who he is - while she brought Mike.
And this is how "Dark Edge of Honor" was born. I hope you enjoy it.