Story Notes: Of Sabrina

***Spoilers Ahead***


Of all the characters in this work, the lack of attention given to Sabrina is interesting, at least for me. She is, I think, one of the more compelling characters in the whole thing. She’s smart, she’s strong, but she’s stuck, in Imitata. Not in your typical damsel-in-distress way, but the far more realistic political marriage, where it’s just what you do.

And Digger doesn’t save her. His character is, essentially, the guy who should save her- prince, scoundrel, rebel, old flame- but Sabrina doesn’t need saving. I thought for sure Imitata would give the whole damn thing away, but instead it got people guessing (which is what it’s supposed to do). Then it ends, and originally, back in the day when I was just posting drafts, that was it. fin. I really, really wanted to leave her fate ambiguous- everyone thought what they were supposed to think, that she killed herself- but there was an image that stuck with me, that sort of summarized everything that happened, and will happen. Digger walking away in one direction, Sabrina in the other, as the music dies in the house. Somehow, it just fit and the book didn’t feel complete without it.

Story Notes: Unforgiving

Right in the middle of the Kickstarter campaign- when it looked like it would actually get funded- I logged into Twitter and clicked over to the interaction tab and saw this tweet. It, of course, made my day, and through a variety of circumstances, my plans for the cover art fell through, so I emailed Johnny asking if I could use his art for the cover- he (obviously) agreed, resulting in the cover in the sidebar there.



I couldn’t be happier because from the first time I saw that piece, I felt like it really captured the 3024AD universe- cold and unforgiving. So I love that it’s on the cover (BTW, if you are an author in need of a cover, he has a pretty sweet deal).

I wanted a story that equally captured the essence of the universe- it’s not some dystopian hyperbole, but it’s harsh. It’s set at a time of expansion, similar to the British Empire of old, with colonies all over, some greatly supported, some… not so much. This collection covers most of those, mostly through Digger’s eyes, but I wanted a story that captured that feel and gave it to the reader in one dose.

I kicked around a few ideas before settling on this one- following a recruit through his first battle experience. So we meet Corey White, a listless teenager who joins up to find some purpose in his life. He turned out to be much more fun to write than I had imagined. It worked, too, as he felt at home with structure in the military, ending up as a gunner on a destroyer. I won’t say much about what happens after that, except that you should pay special attention to the final story, Possession (which is my favorite part of the whole thing).

In any case, I really enjoyed how it turned out and fits in. It serves as, I feel, a powerful introduction to the universe that sets the stage for what is to come. I hope you agree!


Story Notes: GalSpan ‘Havok’ Fighter

The Havok fighter first appears in ‘Escort Duty’ which, for my money, is probably the funnest story in the collection. I wrote it before ‘Unforgiving’, which opens the collection, mostly because I wanted something that had more action than a lot of the stories do. Not that I the others are lacking action, but it gave me a chance to explore things from a different perspective; namely, that of a GalSpan employee. 

GalSpan's Havok fighter

GalSpan’s Havok fighter, Lego version

GalSpan, as an entity within the 3024AD universe, is not a unique concept- you don’t have to look far to find examples in fiction of giant, amoral corporations- but the thought of a fully militarized corporation is a big part of what happens on the periphery of this collection and is central to the next book (which is, incidentally, a novel, so if you don’t like the semi-sequential manner in which this collection works, you’ll be more at home with the next one). In addition, it emphasizes that a career that is fairly alien to you and I is entirely commonplace and respected- namely, that of being employed by a corporation to fight and kill for it.

Which brings us back to the fighter itself. I actually built it out of Legos years ago, and always wanted to use it in something. Since GalSpan is at the center of most of what happens from here on out (which is only sort of a spoiler), it feels right at home in the 3024AD. The original construction was taken apart years ago, and took me about two days (between writing) to rebuild it (the first one actually didn’t have a stand, and let me tell you, best idea ever. It doesn’t sit well on the lower stabilizers). Here are the (Lego) stats:

Wingspan: 48″

Height: 7″ (stabilizers down)/ 12″ (stabilizers up)

Length: 10″

If you want to read about it in action, the links are at the right!


Front 3/4

Front 3/4


Starboard missile hardpoints

Cockpit detail. The console folds down for access.

Cockpit detail. The console folds down for access.

Rear 3/4, stabilizers up (in its home in the office)

Rear 3/4, stabilizers up (in its home in the office)

Story Notes: Digger

With the release of 3024AD: Short Stories Series One, I thought I’d revive the ‘story notes’ feature and pull back the curtain on my writing process a bit. Enjoy!

Digger-8x10Digger is as close to a main character as there is in SSS1, his story woven through all the others. Initially, he was sort of an accident- a character for a short, like any of the others. But the story just kept going, reaching 9,000 words before it was halfway finished and I realized there was a lot more to him. So I scrapped that story (which was later re-written as The Gathering Storm and partially, Pride of the Empire. Incidentally, the original version introduced evidence of alien life and I didn’t want that in 3024AD, so that was part of the reason too). I went back and wrote Ruins of New York, which is something of his origin story, since that’s where he picks up the ‘Digger’ nickname.

Buy 3024AD: Short Stories Series One: Kindle | Kobo | Nook

The really fun thing about writing him was his ‘sandbox’ quality- most everything I write is outlined in every way, and so were his stories, but I could just put him in a situation and see what happened. This lead to Worlds Away, which is probably my favorite story in the whole collection. I love a story that covers all the bases- action, drama, etc- and I feel really good about how it turned out.

The problem with Digger’s enjoyable sandbox is that it can’t last forever, and his whole secret past catches up to him- and events outside the proper of this collection force his hand (these will be covered later, up-close-and-personal style), but it was fun to see how he’d respond to that. The result is a character that is now central to the whole universe, and has a large role to play.


Kickstarter Journal: Hours

So the Kickstarter has now reached the point where is counts down hours, not days.

That’s not nerve wracking or anything. About that: Help my nerves by backing now! It’s like you get to be a doctor!
What, you want content, not me beating you over the head to back the Kickstarter? How about both?

Writing 3024AD is pretty much the funnest thing right now. I love sitting down and immersing myself in this universe. It’s just so fun to connect all the dots, see how story lines intersect and how characters and events are related.

This first collection of short stories serves as much as an introduction to 3024AD as anything. The main character of Digger, he of the mysterious past and malicious intent, ties the whole thing together. Connected to him- sometimes directly, other times, not so much- are characters who he crosses paths with who have their own stories told. A couple are disconnected, according to the proper of this collection, from him, but connect much later.

I also say introduction because some of the most influential events are not even described- but will be later, because it takes place directly in another story. The reams of notes I have are aching to be written, and I can’t get them fast enough. Series Two of the shorts starts in November, and the novel will be done by years end.

This is just the beginning folks. Thanks for coming along for the ride.


Story Notes: Le Deformes Perverse Imitata

Unintended consequence of using a long Latin name: I have to type that sucker every time I tweet it/share it, and I am terrified I will misspell my own stories title.

About that:

It means “The Hideous Masquerade”, which I arrived at because I wanted the emphasize the metaphorical masquerade that was taking place, that everyone at the Trents the evening were masking themselves, though they wore no masks. Diggers motivation for doing so is obviously radically different than those who are posturing politically. However, I didn’t want to actually say masquerade in the title, as there are no literal masks. When I looked it up (my Latin is rusty!), and discovered ‘perverse imitata’ is masquerade, I knew I was on to something. I actually debated leaving it at just that, but wanted to emphasize the ‘hideous’ quality, and ‘deformes’ (that I at least remembered) calls to mind (hopefully) the grotesque quality that is the theme.

As to the story itself, I have been at a crossroads all week with Digger. His story arc concludes soon, but I don’t want it to. All is revealed and he holds less attraction without mystery surrounding him. As you will see, this story will circle around for his second story arc and we will meet some of the characters from this evening again (some of whom aren’t mentioned directly).
So, like ‘Ruins’, this serves to set up future stories as much as it is meant to be enjoyed for the present.

The narrative structure was intimidating to me- writing from the female perspective (as I am distinctly not female, even though I am a sensitive, 90’s kind of guy) always makes me nervous. I had this vision of women blowing me up on twitter with a bunch of “what were you thinking” type comments (actually, I get that  a lot anyway) . Fortunately my editor is female and I got good feedback on it, and not to much red ink, so I felt pretty good about it- still, until the first few positive comments from women came back, I sweated a bit.

And finally: Beautiful Thieves by AFI serves as a lot of inspiration for what is going on, if you want some fun visuals for it. Mostly for the mansion and Sabrinas dress.

Story notes: Escort Duty

This one was fun to write, even though there were some challenges. Writing a battle scene was difficult, which I didn’t anticipated. The pacing is different and it was interesting balancing the accelerated pace of the action while trying to describe what is happening. I hope I captured it.

Fun side note: the Havoc fighters are ones i’ve been wanting to use for a while. They are actually inspired by something I built out of legos years ago, that I have been wanting to find a home for since, so I was excited to get to use them.

Other than that, not a whole lot to say about this one. There are some fun things that will play a role in the future of the 3024 universe…

Story Notes: The Ruins of New York (or, on Digger)

This one I wasn’t sure about.  Not because I didn’t like it, but it’s just kind of… there.  It’s the part of the story I don’t usually tell, the occurrence that I have in my head that lends depth to a character, but usually isn’t shared.

About that:

I like Digger.  I like him a lot.  When I first started writing him- not for this story- he was just going to be in the one short and that was it.  But he has a special depth to him, and lends himself to the type of adventures that the 3024 universe is home to.  So far, I have no less than four outlines for shorts sitting on my desk for him.  Now, he doesn’t lend himself to a novel- though I’m sure he will pop up- but his style is quick, usually action-filled, adventures (although there isn’t much action in Ruins).  That is exciting for me because shorts aren’t really my thing (you may have noticed I’m fairly verbose).

All of which leads to the Ruins of New York.  It’s sort of his origin story, if this were a comic book.  Obviously, he had a life prior to Ruins, which is heavily alluded to, and will be explored, but this is the catalyst for everything to come, where he’s bit by the spider, if you will.  When I wrote what will now be the third Digger short story, it just didn’t serve to introduce him properly.  Ruins- at the very least-tries to do that (in case you’re wondering, we’ll meet Faraday again, but it will be a while).

It also touches on something that is a fairly critical background element- America is straight up gone (which I realize is quite the un-fourth-of-July thing to write), as is China.  A couple stories will serve to introduce the major players on the galactic scene in the near future, so hopefully that whets your appetite for what is to come.

One last note: thank you all so much for reading and supporting this.  It’s off the beaten path, and the response has been overwheming.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any comments or criticisms, or twitter @deanfortythree.