Please welcome Michael J. Martinez to The Qwillery.
, the second novel in the Daedalus series, was published on May 6th by Night Shade Books.
: Welcome back to the Qwillery. Your new novel, The Enceladus Crisis
(Daedalus 2), was published on May 6. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote The Daedalus Incident
(Daedalus 1) to The Enceladus Crisis
? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?Michael
: Well, I think the most notable change was that I had a deadline! When I wrote the first book, it was just me, wondering if I could write a novel. This time, there was an editor waiting to get his hands on it, because there was a schedule. There were copy editors and cover artists and printing presses. No pressure, right?
I think the biggest change, for me, was that I had some built-in knowledge of what makes a novel work, based on my experience writing the first one. This time out, I had fewer revisions. My process remained the same – I still outline extensively in Excel, and then write to each scene I’ve outlined – but thankfully, there were fewer iterations before it became a book I really liked.TQ
: What do you wish that you knew about book publishing when The Daedalus Incident
came out than you know now?Michael
: Given the issues surrounding Night Shade’s sale to Skyhorse Publishing last year, I suppose a lot of folks would be like, “I bet you wish you hadn’t signed with Night Shade. I know other authors who feel exactly that way, and for good reasons. I think my situation was unique in that The Daedalus Incident
became the first debut from the new Skyhorse/Night Shade, and got some press because of that. I’m grateful to “old” Night Shade for taking a chance on my wacky story, and I’m grateful to “new” Night Shade for asking for two more books, and for doing such a good job on editing and covers and publicity.
So I guess I wish I knew it would’ve turned out as well as it did. This time last year, there was nothing certain for anybody, and I had no idea if my debut would be swallowed up in bankruptcy court. I’m just glad it worked out.TQ
: Tell us something about The Enceladus Crisis
that is not in the book description.Michael
: Well, there’s Napoleon. The book description, of course, has a mystery surrounding Napoleon’s forces in Egypt in 1798, the year Napoleon Bonaparte invaded. But yes, Napoleon is in there, as a character, interacting with at least one of my fictional characters. That was something readers of The Daedalus Incident
seemed to be looking forward to, given the way the first book ended. So yes, he’s there. Now, he’s not taking center stage, but readers will likely figure out he has more going on than his page-count in the book might imply.TQ
: What kinds of research did you do for The Enceladus Crisis
: Of course, I did a lot of research into Napoleon’s 1798 invasion of Egypt and the resulting campaigns. I especially delved into the team of scholars and savants he brought with him – a lot of their names are in the book. I also looked more into the futurist predictions of technology in the coming decades to better inform the futuristic sections of the book. The Daedalus Incident
was set on a backwater, low-priority Mars base, so I didn’t need so much in the way of shiny tech. Here, I wanted more of that, because some of these visions are very cool.TQ
: Which character in the Daedalus
series (so far) has surprised you the most? Who has been the hardest character to write and why?Michael
: I really, really like how Dr. Andrew Finch’s arc has gone. In Daedalus
, we find him as a brilliant but drug-addled playboy-alchemist, and over the years he’s grown in both sobriety and power. He’s also come to appreciate his friendships, now that he actually has some. He’s looking ahead in life instead of bemoaning his station, and there’s some great conflicts that come with that, when he has to weigh personal ambition (now that he actually has some) against his friendships and what little sense of duty he has. I like Finch. I want to go drinking with him. Maybe slap him upside the head, too.
I think the hardest character is the future-setting protagonist, the British-Indian astronaut Shaila Jain. It’s not that she’s hugely complex, per se, but I feel like I have a responsibility to really get her right. She’s a woman with agency, a military officer and explorer. She’s had major ups and downs in life; she’s used to being angry and bitter but has little reason for it now. As the book gets underway, she’s in a great place, with a newly restored career and a new romantic relationship. I worked really hard to find a good balance with her because I wanted her to be as real as possible, rather than a caricature. Sadly, she doesn’t get to stay in that great place for very long. She has a long road ahead, one that I’m rounding out now in the final book, The Venusian Gambit
: The Daedalus series is a genre-bending blend of SF, Adventure, Alternate History and Mystery. Why genre bend?Michael
: You know, there wasn’t really a point where I said, “I’m going to genre-bend!” I knew the story I wanted to tell, and it just so happened that it bridged several genres. I think the whole series is a synthesis of many things that I’ve geeked out on through the years, and it just happened to end up the way it did.TQ
: Please give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Enceladus Crisis
: I’m not one given to literary flourishes, but there’s a couple of paragraphs that I rather like:
“In all his years in the service of King and country, Thomas Weatherby had been privileged to see some of the most fantastical things the Known Worlds had to offer the enterprising soul. He had plumbed the jungles of Venus to find evidence of lost civilizations, tasted the ice of Europa, explored the mines of Mercury. He had watched Finch save men from the very brink of death, watched others have their lives snuffed out with naught but a moment’s notice. TQ
He had even seen the future, once upon a time – a future, perhaps, one of many, but the future regardless – in which invisible energies paralyzed the unwary, pieces of glass could summon encyclopediae of information at a moment’s notice, and a Hindu woman could be an officer in His Majesty’s Royal Navy.
None of these things, not a single one of them, could prepare Weatherby for the rings of Saturn.”
: What’s next?Michael
: At the moment, I’m hard at work on The Venusian Gambit
, which will wrap up the Daedalus trilogy. After that, I’m working on an idea for a new, very different, non-Daedalus
series of books. It’s still a take on historical fantasy, but very much unrelated to Daedalus. There may come a point when I might return to the Daedalus
multiverse, but for now, I’ve just about told the story I wanted to tell there.TQ
: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.Michael
: Thank you for having me! The site continues to be awesome. Keep up the good work!