Story Behind the Stories
Have you ever finished a book or a series and wanted to understand more about the details behind the story? If the book is a series you can get this from the next book, but sometimes you get to the last book (or the book was a stand-alone) and you’re still left wondering about certain things.
Take my series for instance. The I Am Just Junco series (Clutch, Fledge, Flight) are speculative fiction stories set in a futuristic America. Or what’s left of America. It’s not a dystopian, people seem fairly content with how the whole break-up shook out, but it is a different world than the one we live in today.
I get lots of questions about this world, mostly where are each of the Republics or Utopias located. This is easily remedied – I made a map! You can find that at my website in a blog post by Gideon. (www.iamjustjunco.com)
But what of the actual setting? The first book is easy – I live in rural Colorado. Not the mountains. Most people think all of Colorado is mountainous, but it’s not. In fact, one half of the state is high prairie and this is where I live and where most of the first book in my series (Clutch) takes place.
My main character is a soldier, a trained sniper in fact, named Junco. Junco is nineteen, she’s a bit psycho and emotional, and she’s wild and unpredictable. This makes her perfect as far as characters go because she can be manipulated in so many believable ways, and she is a joy to write.
I got the idea for Junco by reading Woken Furies by Richard K. Morgan. This book is the last in a trilogy about a man who comes back to his home planet after hundreds of years of crime and soldiering and gets sucked back into local politics as he carries out a personal revenge agenda.
I love this book because it’s a deep character-driven novel disguised in an awesome twisty plot and filled with just about every science fiction element you can think of. This is a story about people more than anything, and lots of readers never got that about the book. I try to make my stories the same way in that they are always about the characters, not the action going on in the plot – even though there is a lot of action and a lot of twistiness in my books as well.
Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs series was a major influence on the creation of Junco Coot, the main character in my I Am Just Junco books. I wanted to explore what it would be like to be a soldier who was as hard and ruthless as Kovacs, except from a young female perspective. I think Junco’s secret past illustrates what it takes to turn a nineteen year-old girl into a ruthless killer. It’s not easy to get that jaded before you’re twenty, and it takes many horrible experiences over many years to make killing just another day at the office.
Thankfully, like Kovacs, Junco is a quick learner. But unlike Kovacs, she has a support team there to help her process who she is and what she does. I think this is the biggest difference between the two characters. Yes, her life is horrible, yes, she’s done bad things, but people still love her. She still has hope.
Even so, Junco is conflicted about her skills as an assassin, she’s psychologically damaged because of her training, and she wants more than anything to be “normal”.
In book two she’s in a team meeting and her military conditioning compels her to be compliant and agreeable with her commanding officer. This prompts him to tell her: “You make a much better soldier than you do a woman, Junco.”
Talk about an insult! That was the absolute last thing she wanted to hear! This sets off a whole series of introspective questions inside her head. Can she be something other than a killer? Can she ever hope to have a family? Can she live with herself?
While all the Junco books have action – lots and lots of action – the theme running through each and every one of them is one of belonging and finding one’s place in the world.
You can start reading about Junco’s journey today by checking out Clutch, the first book in the I Am Just Junco series, at Amazon for only 99 cents. When you’re done, leave a review on Amazon and let me know whether or not you think Junco’s soldiering career should be put aside for more – domestic things! 🙂
And don’t forget to enter the giveaway contest – each autographed copy of Clutch will come with some cool swag, too!