A few weeks ago, I asked folks what they wanted to know about TRANCE, the first book in my MetaWars series with Pocket. I've combined some of the questions, but hopefully this gives everyone something to look forward to.
But before we get to that, a few housekeeping things:
My interview with audiobook narrator and voice artist Xe Sands is here, and I'm running a giveaway. And since everyone loves free stuff, go forth and comment!
I spent some time on the super-fun site StoryCasting.com, where you can cast your favorite books. I've put up my dream cast for THREE DAYS TO DEAD. Check it out, and then add a cast of your own. You have to register, but it's free and it's fun!
I feel like there was a third thing I wanted to add, too, but it's slipped my mind. Oh well...on with TRANCE!
*Who's the heroine? What is special about her? Is there a hero?*
The heroine of TRANCE is Teresa "Trance" West, and the book is told from her first-person perspective. She was raised by superhero parents and trained to one day become a superhero herself, but she lost everything (including her parents and powers) before she was able to fulfill that role. After growing up alone, tormented by what she sees as personal cowardice during the end of the MetaHuman War, she's basically skating through her life—until her superpowers unexpected return. But while Teresa's original powers were telepathic in nature, her new powers are telekinetic, and much more violent. She can create power orbs strong enough to blast holes in walls (and in people). She's tasked to not only deal with these new, strange powers, but also to in discover why she and her former classmates lost their powers to being with, all while being hunted by an old villain out for revenge. (*cue dramatic music*)
And yes, there is a hero. This series is heavier on romance than my Dreg City series, without actually being romance books. Gage "Cipher" MacAllister is the guy that Teresa had a childhood crush on, and the crush is still there fifteen years later when he comes back into her life—older, hotter, and with a lot of his own inner demons. And it's the battle between her personal life and her duty to her teammates that challenges Teresa the most. She never wanted to be a leader, and she never wanted to fall in love—now she's on the precipice of both.
*Why did you create this world? Why did you write it?*
Various incarnations of this world have been swirling around in my head since I was a teenager, but most of the specific world-building (especially the violent history between the Rangers, who are the heroes, and the Banes, who are the villains), came about in the last couple of years.
Mostly I created this world because of my love for superheroes. The first real comic I picked up and read was "The New Teen Titans #9".
I remember digging it out of a box of comics, looking at the cover and thinking, "Dude, Robin was part of a team of heroes?" I had no idea what reading that book would spawn, but the issue hooked me on the Titans and I began hunting down every issue I could find. I loved the concept of a team book, and I've always been a fan of the "family you make" theme, and I use that a lot in the MetaWars books. These heroes aren't related by blood, but they're still family.
When I was fourteen, I decided to create my own superheroes. I still have a notebook full of character ideas and costume sketches that will never be used, and storylines that are more soap opera than novel-ready. But pulled out that notebook around….2006, I think? Because I needed a new novel idea, and I figured I could scavenge some parts and put together a new book. The original draft is pretty different from what will be coming out from Pocket, but the overall concept is the same, and I truly love writing in this world.
*What troubles lie in the world? Does she [Trance] seem to find trouble, or trouble find her?*
One of the major troubles of this world is something that always irritates me about big Hollywood spectacle movies: the collateral damage. Homes and businesses get blown up, bystanders get crushed, lives are ruined by whatever catastrophe strikes next. And I wanted to really touch on that in these books. The battles between Rangers and Banes have ravaged the country—major cities are devastated, thousands of innocent people have been killed, water sources are contaminated, the economy is in the toilet. People are angry and scared, and they blame the Metas for it all.
So when all of the Meta powers suddenly return, the new Rangers are not immediately embraced. There are political ramifications. Even Trance and her friends are reluctant to reveal themselves, because they don't want to be attacked by terrified citizens. It's not a happy world to be a MetaHuman in.
Personally, Trance is not a trouble-magnet. She tries hard to maintain a low profile, and she spends most of her time working three jobs just so she can eat and keep a crappy apartment. So she's pretty unbalanced when her life turns on its head, and she's suddenly forced to confront not just old Bane enemies, but also federal agents.
*The process from idea, to characters, world-building, outlining, planning, pantsing, etc*
I think I touched on some of these in the paragraphs above. Because I created the initial world so long ago, and because it's been about 4 years since I wrote the first draft of what became TRANCE, it's hard to remember the process anymore. I didn't outline, which became a bit of an annoyance when it came time to write the climax, reveal the villain, and tie up the loose ends. Plus the original the Meta powers changed between initial draft (don't ask what it was, because in retrospect, it was pretty silly) and what finally went on submission to publishers.
The characters were, I think, the most fun to create. Since I was writing a team book, I needed several unique people, and I think I settled on an arbitrary number of six. Trance was easy enough to figure out. She goes from the timid girl with somewhat useless powers to the mega-powered leader of five other people—and she isn't happy about that. Leadership isn't her strong suit, and she leans heavily on Gage for advice.
Of all the characters, Gage gave me the most trouble. Gage has enhanced senses—he can see farther, hear better, smell stronger, etc…than the average human, and he has to learn to control his senses again. He was also a very private character, and as much as he disliked discussing personal issues with Trance, he wasn't much better with his author. It sounds goofy to say a character won't talk to me about his past, but Gage really wasn't talking. It was several rewrites before I figured him out and finally understood why he acted the way he did (some secrets are worth waiting for, let me tell you).
My other favorite of the group is Renee "Flex" Duvall. I love her because she's bubbly, big-mouthed, not afraid to say what she's thinking, comfortable in her sex appeal, and very proud of her boob job. She also has blue skin and can bend, stretch and contort into crazy lengths and shapes (think Mr. Fantastic meets Angelina Jolie). But she's also very fragile inside, and while we don't get to see a lot of that side of her in TRANCE, Renee will have her moment in the spotlight if the series is picked up past book two.
Rounding out the sextet of heroes are Marco "Onyx" Mendoza (shapeshifter, able to take the form of a raven, a panther, and a black house cat), William "Caliber" Hill (super-strength), and Ethan "Tempest" Swift (control of the air, including tornadoes and windstorms).
*Is the series YA or adult?*
The series is definitely adult. While the main characters lose their powers as children, they regain them and come together again as adults (twenty-five to thirty is the age span). There has been a little confusion about that, so I wanted to clear that up. :)
So that's what I've got so far. Feel free to ask anything else that's on your mind! October is only four months away! (I can't believe I just typed that....)