Welcome back, Jay. How much of Morningside Fall was in your head by the time Three was finished?
Hi Dan, thanks for inviting me back!
Well, I’d originally written Three as a standalone novel, so when I finished it I hadn’t really spent too much time thinking where I’d take it from there. I guess if you’re asking about the exact moment I finished Three, then I’d have to say virtually none of Morningside Fall existed in my head yet.
But in the few months between having finished the manuscript for Three and signing on with the Robot Overlords at Angry Robot Books, I started thinking through where I’d take those characters next just in case I decided I wanted to continue writing in that world. The funny thing was that once I started thinking about a second book my brain kind of exploded and I knew I’d have to write a third book too to cover everything I wanted to include.
The Blindfolded Man was my favorite new character. Where did that come from?
That’s actually a really strange story. In the early days of planning Morningside Fall, this character just sort of forced himself into the process. Like, literally, I was sitting there minding my own business and all of a sudden this character appears in my mind and pretty much says “I’m in this book.” I had no idea who he was or what he wanted exactly, I just knew he was extremely dangerous and at least a little scary. It was almost like he had his own mission and I was just going to have to make room for him.
It was really over the course of writing his scenes that I discovered who he was, and in this case it was truly like a discovery. Especially early on in the book, I never really felt like I was driving his creation … it was more like he existed before I’d ever met him, and I was just giving him a place to do his thing.
I know it sounds weird; it was weird. I hope I’m not the only author that’s ever had that happen.
The Awakened struggling to fit in at Morningside was well done. Any real world inspiration for this?
I wouldn’t say I had any single group in mind when writing about the Awakened, but at the same time, yes absolutely, the real world is full of this sort of thing. We people tend to have a hard time dealing with others that are too different than we are, and history (and our present day) is full of examples of segments of people being ostracized, marginalized, and persecuted.
The tricky thing with the Awakened is that the citizens of Morningside do have some legitimate reasons to fear and mistrust them. It was an interesting challenge for me to try to capture some of the complexity to the social dynamics that exist in that environment.
How far along is the next book in the Duskwalker series?
Not nearly as far along as I wish! As with the other two books, I have the beginning, the ending, and some key milestones along the way, as well as some early chapters. I have a solid grasp on what I want to do with this one, but the pressure to bring everything together in a really satisfying way is pretty high, so I’m having to wrestle with myself a lot on it.
Is there a title for the third book?
It has a working title but I’m the only one that will be using it. Once the Robot Overlords get their hands on it, they’ll give it a proper name. One day I might tell people what the working titles were for each of the three books, but not until they’re all out there in the real world.
What are you reading these days?
Oh, so many things. I’m one of those weird people who reads like five books at a time, depending on what I feel like at any given moment. I just finished Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, and I’m currently reading Myke Cole’s Control Point, R. C. Sproul’s The Consequences of Ideas, Ben Carson’s America the Beautiful, and Chris Anderson’s Makers. And I’m listening to Gulliver’s Travels on my daily commute.
What else do you have coming down the pipeline?
Book Three in the Duskwalker series is the big thing on my mind right now, but I also have a more military sci-fi themed project spinning up. A short story I wrote as a first exploration in that world will be showing up in a couple of months in Apex Publishing’s War Stories anthology. I’ve got a more Young Adult thing on the (very) back burner, though I’m still trying to figure out how to manage my time and mental energy effectively, so progress on anything outside of Book Three is somewhere between slow and non-existent.
Thanks again for having me by, Dan!