The Hollander Chronicles were nothing more than a nebulous thought and a sampling of three characters in July and August of 2021. I started writing in August with only one scene in mind. A female captain and her ship spot a single vampire floating in the deep while on a long, boring journey in space.
And so I began. I had no rules in mind. I had no actual genre other than “space” that happened to intersect with “supernatural creatures.” Fantasy, horror, science fiction, comedy, romance, slice-of-life, and whatever other genre stamps you’d want to put on the story weren’t a part of the equation. They came into the equation of their own volition. The rules of play built themselves as I wrote that first draft. The first draft that, believe it or not, is hundreds of thousands of words.
I didn’t stop until well after the captain had reached her first destination; some major life events had taken place for her and her new beau, and the ship’s crew had not only gotten to know Charles but most had come to accept him as one of their own.
Then? I went back to the beginning and started to polish. New scenes inserted themselves into the story. How did Chuck get in the deep? I had to answer that question. How did he end up a vampire? That question answered itself as I considered who he was. How did the captain and this vampire get so close when the captain is arguably the greatest weapon against feral vampires the universe has ever seen?
Of course, those were only the first questions I asked myself. As the story grows and the universe expands, I’m surprised by how many questions the characters answer themselves before I get around to asking them. It’s true what they say. Let your characters be the characters they are, and the story surrounding them pretty much tells the author where it has to go.
Of course, as the author, I still have to guide them to the right times and places to make the big moments happen. But in between those big moments, I let the characters play. And sometimes, they play rough.
So, where do we sit today?
Episode 1: The Messiah of Death
The first book is a singular story, surrounded by countless other stories waiting to be told. It’s a romance wrapped in horror and taking place in a space opera, science fiction universe.
While there is a serious story told through the gore, the comedy, and the character and universe building, at no point did I ever consciously think, “I need to make this more serious.” No, the story itself is fun for me. And while I have particular moments that jerk on my heartstrings, I never really lose that sense of fun. While our main characters have a lot of darkness in their lives, they deal with that darkness, find comfort in each other, and find ways to survive even the most tragic and regrettable horrors.
I often think of the first book as “The Chuck and Annie Show.” It’s very centrally focused on those two and spends a little time laying the groundwork for what will happen because of their relationship.
I also feel it could be titled, “…And Justice for Chuck.” Those that read it will understand.
Episode 2: Of Friends and Escalation
The second book takes a moment of setup, then pushes heavily into the more fun side of this universe. The comedy seemed to come naturally as I was writing. In many scenes, I honestly started with no idea where they were going.
Friendships and relationships are dove on hard as the ship continues its journey. We meet more of the captain’s old friends. We learn of her family and the books that haunt her with a future already known and written. And we see the first signs that even our happiest characters have those they’ve left behind and miss.
We also see the first signs of the greater powers poking about with the captain’s life.
I hate to say too much, as I don’t want to spoil any of the big reveals, but those pages have a lot of fun. It’s both a book where a lot happens and not much happens, depending on your view. Big events are loosely hinted at, while small events seem to pass at a breakneck pace.
Friendships and other relationships are established and deepened, and those relationships will come into play as the story continues.
So that’s where we sit today.
I thought I might take a moment to speak about the future of the story. While this singular mission the captain and her crew are on is a long one, it will not be the only mission in these books. Their destination is drawing nearer. I can’t wait for folks to see Bombast Icilise for the first time. It’s a beautiful place and makes the Brigadier seem so small and cramped in comparison. There’s a bit of a culture shock coming for our faithful crew and companions. Humanity’s deepest station has its own views on certain subjects, which don’t always align with universal standard views. For some, this is a huge relief; for others a constant source of consternation.
There’s so much fun to come. I can’t wait for all of you to meet the other important characters and see the other big events that the crew of the Brigadier will play a part in.
I hope those reading the blog that haven’t read the books will consider joining us on our journey with Captain Annamantha Hollander and her vampire lover, Chuck. And for those that have read, thank you. I hope some small part of the fun they’ve brought into my life makes its way into yours.
I hope to see you again soon. Goodbye for now.