My Youngest Turns 2

On October 17, 2017, BREACH OF CONTAINMENT was published in the US.

I don’t blame you if you missed it. Most people did. I touch on some of the reasons here, but that’s neither here nor there. On that fall day my baby became available for purchase, irrevocably out in the world.

When I contracted for this book, the plot was barely a gleam in my eye. We’d subbed a single volume; we sold three. As part of the deal I had to come up with a quick paragraph-or-two summary of what the second and third books were about. The two big things I knew about BREACH were Elena’s mission, and where Galileo stood at the end of the book. Everything else, every complex and convoluted bit of this story, was drafted in late 2015/early 2016, after both THE COLD BETWEEN and REMNANTS OF TRUST were set in stone.

Which is a good thing, really. There were pieces added to both those books that influenced the whole arc. It’s an odd thing, I suppose, but for all three of these books the major plot points weren’t there in the beginning. When I start writing, I have a few scenes and some characters, and I go from there. The overall theme of the story drives me, but I never know what it is until the story is finished.

THE COLD BETWEEN is about home. REMNANTS OF TRUST is about justice. I’ve always said BREACH OF CONTAINMENT is about grief, but really, I think it’s about love. There are some sad things that happen, but overall, it’s about found families and connection and who we stand up for and why. Despite its difficult birth, it says what I want it to say, and ends where I want it to end.

So to celebrate my sad-happy-grief-love-little book, here are some little-known facts about it!

A doomsday cult predicted the end of the world on my book’s release day. No, not because of the book! But I was a little bit worried. REMNANTS came out on November 8, 2016, and we all know what happened then. Fortunately, October 17 came and went without a comet hitting the planet. I am still relieved.

The UK release date was in March of 2018. This is maybe not so little-known, but I didn’t know this until a UK reader asked me when the book would be out. When I asked the publisher, they told me spacing of releases in the UK was set up differently (it’s a different market)—they chose to release BREACH 24 months after THE COLD BETWEEN. They felt TCB and REMNANTS—both in 2016—had been released too close together (ME TOO GUYS).

Dallas didn’t originally have a POV. Dallas (yes, named after the ALIEN guy, despite the gender difference) had the prologue: my snapshot of the setting and a hint at the inciting incident. But as I started sketching out Jessica’s arc, it became clear I needed boots on the ground in Smolensk, and there was Dallas, conveniently already connected to the characters. As the plot developed, Dallas evolved into a reluctant hero. They hadn’t thought of themselves as the type to save the world, but you don’t always get to choose.

I’m kind of itching to write Dallas a book of short stories. I’m itching to find someone to draw them a comic, too.

That thing at the end? The thing Locus complained was too much of a deus ex machina? That was one of the last plot points I thought of. I’d written most of a draft before the idea came to me, and at first it was a small aside, nothing but a character point. I’m glad I did it, though, because it became my jumping-off point for Book 4.

In all seriousness, I do get what the Locus reviewer meant. It’s just that they were wrong. 😀 (No, I’m not salty, why do you ask?)

Greg’s scene on Chryse was written out of order. This is unusual for me; thanks to NaNo, I generally draft beginning to end, and if I skip forward it’s to get to pivotal scenes, not to avoid them.

But if you’ve read the book, you know why I had to work my way up to it a bit. File under Liz Is Too Soft-Hearted For This Business.

Herrod’s connection to the Phoenix was canon from the start. I knew about it when I wrote THE COLD BETWEEN. Didn’t know when or how I’d need to use it, but this is part of the connections thing. Events have consequences. Life ripples in ways we don’t understand. Nothing is isolated, and nothing happens in a vacuum. One small act of kindness can save the universe. One betrayal can destroy it.

With a little work, that might make a log line, don’t you think?

Gladkoff is as close as I ever got to basing a character off a real person. There’s a particular type of mid-level manager in software: ambitious but obsequious, competent enough but not overly competent. They think they’re building a career by ass-kissing and following incomprehensible orders, but really they’re being set up as the guy to take the fall when the wall comes down. The greedier and more short-term focused the company, the more managers like this you find.

Of course, Ellis isn’t short-term focused, but Gladkoff’s task was brief and consisted mostly of PR. He really was the best guy for the job.

BREACH OF CONTAINMENT is my favorite of the three. I’d had two books before this one to get to know my characters; by the time I was writing BREACH, I knew exactly how to get from them what I needed. (Plot and character are intertwined, kids.) If a chapter came out tonally wrong, I knew what to feed a character to tweak that. They’re well-honed tools at this point.

And I love them. All of them. They’re my own little found family wandering around in my head.

(No, I’m not crazy. Authors compose characters in many different ways, but I’m not the only one who handles it by basically creating imaginary friends.)

Not gonna lie, it’s been a tough couple of years since this book came out, but it’s never stopped being an accomplishment I’m proud of. It’s probably the most personal thing I’ve ever set out into the world. It keeps me writing, both the Central Corps story and anything else that comes into my head. It’s been a life preserver when I’ve really needed one. And I’ve been privileged to find that it’s resonated with others as well.

Happy birthday, dear book. You are everything I wanted you to be.

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