Lazarus: Return

When I set out, I had no idea where I was going with this series. Literally.

I’ve talked about it before now. Just laying in the tub one night soaking and relaxing, and the opening words of Chapter One of Book One (Escape) hit me. I had to get up, dry off, get dressed, and start typing.

Had no idea where I was going. Or who the characters were. Chapter One just pretty much fell out of me as you’ve read it. This is a bit out of character for me the writer. Usually, I open a new word document and go.

But I knew that Lazarus was going to be weird, so I just ran with it.

Book One (Escape) gave me the chance to introduce all sorts of new alien species. And make humans over into Space Orcs, following up on an old joke from a friend of mine. (“Would you stop and say hello to us?”)

When it came time for Book Two (Return) it was obvious that I also needed to explore some thoughts on human cultures, and introduce some human characters. Oluchi Pryce was one such. I drew visual inspiration for him directly from Donald Glover’s Lando in the recent Solo movie, down to the cape. Didn’t use the character so much, but did make him a gambler and card sharp and a gigolo suddenly faced with “aging out” and having to do something new/else with his life.

Grace is modeled on a woman I knew but didn’t date, back when I was a bouncer in a cowboy bar in Riverside, California in the mid-90s. She worked as a professional dancer at night, but didn’t have any cocaine habits. (Lots of those girls got addicted to something, she explained to me.She was about to pay off her mother’s house, had a new Jeep and a new motorcycle paid off.) During the day, she studied various martial arts. (I was into a form of Vietnamese Kung Fu in those days which was why we bonded. Wish I’d kept up on it, but that’s a different story for another time.) My friend was Hispanic/Comanche, she told me once, which gave her an exotic look to go with being 6’1 and built like a middle linebacker in the shoulders and curvy hot babe everywhere else.

Xiuying is modeled after a couple of guys I knew from the old days as well. Both Marines. Both hard-ass killers in their own ways.

We take space adventure for granted in science fiction, but I’ve heard more than a few people complain that most American SF is US American culture (White, Christian, Euro, etc.) just put on a space ship like a tv show from the 1950s. So when it came time to think about things, I turned everything on its head, and made my rebels a group of colonies that had largely been drawn from the regions between Brazil and Central America. Not a lot and not heavy, but with a distinct look, as well as more of an emphasis on Catholicism than you might be expecting from one of my books.

But it fit Lazarus, so I ran with it.

You’ve had a chance to read Return now, so you’ve met these folks. And seen what sorts of trouble I think you might run into if and when we actually met an intelligent, tool-using, space-faring species.

(Hint: It’s not likely to be pretty, but that’s a story for another day as well.)

Rebellion is coming up next.

We run through seven novels with Lazarus, Addison, Eha, and Aileen, plus a bunch of others you will meet as we go forward. Book Seven is at the First Reader now, and will come out in July. Six is at the copy editor and I need to go over corrections to Five, so we’re in motion.

This is a story about heroes and villains, but mostly about coming to understand the old saying that “Blood of brotherhood is thicker than waters of the womb.” This is a long arc about families of choice, where we decide who our friends and family are, based on people we like and respect, rather than being forced to deal with family.

I don’t generally get along with most of my blood family, but I’ve been making a few new efforts since my Mom died last year. Trying, but we’re all adults, in different parts of the country with different lives. My wife’s extended family is much closer bonded, and just accepted me as another one of them because we’re all artists of some sort.

As with all things, the key to happiness is to be where you are welcomed and wanted, so I need to remind each and every one of you to look around and see if it could be better were you are, or if you should maybe be someplace else.

Someplace where they like you…