Why did I write Hunter, Warrior, Commander?

First of all, why do I write anything?

I read a lot of books and many of them are science fiction, often with an element of conflict. I find a lot of military science fiction is very formulaic, with series having repetitive themes in each book, fairly two dimensional characters who don’t change from one book to the next and as the series progress, have more and more outlandish plots that owe more to fantasy then science fiction. That’s a bit of a sweeping condemnation of the genre, and, I admit, unfair. And, many of these books are incredibly popular. There is clearly a market for them, and their readers must enloy them , or they wouldn’t keep buying them. But they are not to my taste. Having said that, there are many good, entertaining military SF books and series, but if you were to look at the books on my Kindle, you would find more series that I have started and not gone beyond the first one or two books than series that I have finished and read all of the books.

So, I started writing Unwilling From Earth from an idea that I had swimming around in my head to be the book I would like to read. I am what’s known as a discovery writer – that’s what it’s called on the two creative writing courses I have completed, more colloquially as a ‘pantser’, because discovery writers ‘write by the seat of their pants’. That means they have the idea for the story, start writing and the plot develops as they write. It is an enjoyable way to write because usually when you sit down to write, the thought in your mind is “I wonder what’s going to happen next?” Unwilling From Earth ended up as nothing like I expected it to, but it was fun writing it and I hope you found it fun to read.

I never intended it to be a series, but I thought I might write more stories set in the People’s universe, but many the people who reviewed Unwilling From Earth and a lot of the emails I got said they were looking forward to the next in the series – so my next book, which I am writing now and should be published in late spring 2019, picks up from exactly the point where Unwilling From Earth left off.

Back to the point of this post, why did I write Hunter, Warrior, Commander? I wrote it because I was troubled by Sally’s character in Unwilling From Earth – Sah Lee is, of course, Sally. Why did she hate Alan (Ker Din Ser Forn in this book) so much? Why did she use the expression ‘For Satan’s sake!’ so much? Why was she so hard, violent and slightly psychotic? What was it about her that made people who knew her like her so much? I realised the only way to find out was to write a book about her early life. Writing the book changed my view of her character. To be frank, I didn’t like her much in Unwilling From Earth, but now I have discovered more about her I have grown quite fond of her. In book three, which is mostly about Mike, and follows on directly from Unwilling From Earth, Sally/Sah Lee is a much more sympathetic character as I draw on her experience in Hunter, Warrior, Commander and Unwilling From Earth. I intended there to be a lot more humour in it, but Sah Lee has such a hard time that humour didn’t seem appropriate.

I have plans for at least four more books set in the Peoples universe. The current plan is that two of them will include Mark, Sally and the team, the other two will, like Hunter, Warrior, Commander, be set in the distant past.

Is there a book in the People’s universe you would like to see written? Are there any characters you would like to know more about? Or do you have any questions about the People’s universe? Leave a reply below or email me, I will answer you.

Trigger Alert!

I had a lot of fairly blunt feedback from a small percentage of my American readers about the use of English spelling and idioms in Unwilling From Earth, so I wrote Hunter, Warrior, Commander with American English spelling and tried to avoid all English specific idioms – I made up a lot of alien idioms instead. Having discussed this with many American and English authors whose readership is also mainly American, the consensus was that the vast majority of American readers are quite happy with reading English spelling and idioms, so it seems I wasted my time. (Sigh.)

If you have any opinions about books in American English if you are English, or written in British English if you are American, please leave a comment below.