What’s next: Rakers – a sci fi thriller of sorts

See that up there? Rakers? That’s a title. A title I’ve changed three times now since I started writing the book. I’ve talked before about how titles can change all the time, but man, it’s been work with this one. Mostly in response to the number of other books that shared my original titles.

Think of changing a title like changing a shirt – you don’t have to change the rest of your outfit to match, but the people who pay attention to such things will notice. And, because “things” in this case are plot and setting, yeah, I’ve had to go back and tinker with those as well.

Anyway, so what’s Rakers about?

In short, it’s about a person who becomes the target of a mysterious pair that seem not quite from this world.

That person, Fade, happens to be an ex-special forces member who now takes on dubious contracts as a way to pay the mortgage, and stuff his daughter’s college fund. Not exactly what you’d call a prime target for much of anyone, but when a kidnapping goes sideways, Fade’s tenuous life gets torn apart.

There’s plenty of action, but what I’m trying to do with Rakers is build a cast of characters that can go on adventures, yes, but can also grow with the story. They’re not “moment-in-time” snapshots – action heroes who stay their same, cocky and invulnerable selves indefinitely. Not that there’s a problem with those characters, it’s just not the point of this one. Rakers is more about how Fade and the others react when their view of reality is thrown askew, and how they adjust (or don’t) to their new world.

One of the things that I’m excited about exploring in this setting is a direct family relationship – in my other series, there are relatives, but they’re distant (Viola and her father) or put in such drastic settings (the Riven series) that it’s difficult to have normal interactions. In Rakers, for the first time, the actual dynamic between a parent and their child forms a big part of the story, and it’s been a lot of fun to write.

Also, most of Rakers is set in present-day, which is new territory for me. Such a setting presents comforts – I know how everything works, more or less – but also provides challenges. Police, and what would actually happen if a firefight occurred in a suburban street, for example? Cell phones and the impacts they bring on keeping characters in constant contact with one another (makes suspense harder, certainly).

One thing in particular – injuries to characters. In science fiction and fantasy settings, it’s relatively easy to come up with ways to instantly heal people. Or at least make the physical consequences of conflict seem unimportant. However, as most of us know from one thing or another, a broken bone, concussion, or other wound often takes weeks or months to recover from. The characters in Rakers, therefore, are more cautious. More nervous and afraid of getting shot or tangling with difficult odds because, well, the results could be catastrophic.

So is Rakers something new? Absolutely. Are there familiar elements from my other stories? Most definitely. The pages will turn, as they generally do, but the characters and setting are new. It’s a fun romp, and the start of a new series that may go longer than a trilogy. I’m excited to play in a new universe, and I hope you’ll enjoy it.

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