Last week I wrote about the significance of heroes and legends, and referred to a couple of my friends’ work and the importance of what they write. Today I want to write about my own characters and their stories, and why I write what I do.
In the late 1990s Tor published my military science fiction trilogy, which they called The Unified Worlds Saga. I’m renaming it The Sergey Chronicles for its release on Kindle. (Coming to Nook in early March!)
Why did I do that? Because the story arc isn’t about an interstellar alliance. It’s about a military family caught at the fulcrum of interstellar politics and the demands of their military duty. Having been wrenched apart and scattered across their galaxy, they face captivity, torture, coercion, and epic space battles to be reunited.
But then their challenges really begin. Having been separated by decades of time as well as lightyears of distance, each member must confront his or her own internal demons to make the family truly whole again–not to mention defeating a new and more insidious threat to their civilization. Between deadly special operations missions and deep-cover political intrigue runs a thread that shows what one family can accomplish with patience, forgiveness, trust, dedication, and unity of purpose.
I wrote The Sergey Chronicles before I was married, so it’s been interesting to go back through them, especially ECHOES OF ISSEL and DOMINION’S REACH, with the lens of additional life experience. Now, blessed with a supportive and patient husband, I understand and appreciate the bond between Admiral Lujan Sergey and his wife, Captain Darcie Dartmuth, far better than I could at the time I wrote the books.
No relationship is perfect. All have challenges, whether large or small. But what I hoped to show is that with genuine desire and effort by both parties, most difficulties can be conquered and families strengthened. And because the family is the building block of society, the strength of families is critical to civilization.
My current series-in-progress, The Seventh Shaman, is a young adult (YA) military space fantasy. I feel a genuine sense of urgency about these books. I wasn’t blessed with kids of my own–we married too late for me to have children, and military duty after 9/11 preempted the adoption option–but we have almost 40 nieces and nephews, and I teach kids at church. I look at these kids, and the state of the world they will inherit, and think, “Do they have any idea how precious they are? How strong they’ll need to be?”
I think especially of kids growing up in homes (or homeless) who don’t have loving, supportive families. Kids who’ve grown up under abuse, or surrounded by circumstances like violence or alcoholism, who have no idea that they are children of God with a divine heritage and divine potential. Kids who see no purpose to their lives. (Did you know that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among American Indian kids? That breaks my heart!)
So, The Seventh Shaman is for them. I deliberately created a young adult protagonist who is not Anglo. If Akuleh (aka Ku) came from Earth instead of violent Tempest, he would be American Indian. Ku comes from an abusive situation, largely shunned by his deceased mother’s clan, and believes he’s destined to become the incarnation of Machitew, the Death Bringer. In the first two books of the series, Running from the Gods: Wanderer and Running from the Gods: Warrior, Ku fears that his presence will cause more deaths, so he runs away from home, falls back on the one skill in which he has confidence, and enters the military to become a combat pilot. This doesn’t end his difficulties; he’s blamed for more than one death in battle. It’s only when he reaches the deepest, darkest valley of his young life that he learns who he really is and what important role he will eventually play.
I hope that people, young and old alike, will come away from these books with a glimmer of realization that no matter how bad it seems now, there’s Someone who knows who they are, knows “the big picture” of their lives, and will guide them to their own destiny if they will allow Him to. If I give hope to one kid out there through these books, then I will have fulfilled my own life’s destiny as a writer.
And that’s my soapbox for today.