The Hollander Chronicles is a story written for adults. What does that mean? If it were to have been released when I grew up, it would come with a parental advisory on the cover. A boilerplate disclaimer, such as you see on television shows or streaming services, would state the following:
WARNING: The following content includes strong language, violence, gore, blood, explicit sexual situations, drug use, and over-indulgence in alcohol. Viewer discretion is advised.
I want to be very clear about this, as I don’t want someone traipsing through the site, seeing how restrained I usually am when discussing the books, and then being shocked out of their comfort zone if they ever attempt to read the story itself.
As I’ve said from the beginning, these are not, and will never be, stories for children. They are also not one-shot, quick-run simple stories. The plan was always to treat the story as an ongoing television show. And like many anime and other good long-run television, not every episode ends on a resolution point.
What The Hollander Chronicles as a whole will be is a compilation of all the things I have loved in fiction blended with my other loves. If someone asks the genre, it’s tough not to respond with a diatribe.
What Genre is The Hollander Chronicles?
On the surface, The Hollander Chronicles is a space opera. While science fiction plays a part in all space opera, no long dissertations are included in these books on the specifics of any given technology. While I often have those specifics worked out for myself, the books are about the people, the drama, the political intrigue (eventually), and the realities of living a not always easy life on a sprawling, intergalactic naval spaceship in the latter part of the twenty-sixth century.
Though space opera is the operating theater, the tools utilized within that theater often range through a series of other genres.
Horror is laced throughout the books. From a man turned vampire against his will in 1996 in a brutal and extremely public display of violence to the captain of our beloved Brigadier in 2575, that has lived as a hunter of all things non-natural since she was born, these stories are filled with horrific events. The horror serves as a driver for moral dilemmas, character conflict, and, ultimately, explorations of human interaction and emotional response. While blood and gore play a part, sometimes the horror builds more in the realms of the mind rather than the physical side of life.
Fantasy has been a love of mine since I was a child. Ask my parents how much of their money got sunk into large libraries of fantasy novels or ask teenage or twenty-something me how much of my money did the same in later years. Blending horror and fantasy isn’t that unusual, but pulling both into a story within a space opera universe isn’t something I’ve seen much. I like the concept of various fantastical creatures, such as fairies, dragons, elves, and all the rest, being carried with humanity or sometimes jumping out in front of humanity to escape us as we travel the deep and expand our reach as a species.
Slice-of-life stories have always been fascinating to me as a concept, but I’ve rarely seen slice-of-life inserted into the above genres. As the story grew, I allowed myself the indulgence of watching these characters live their daily lives. While I never want to get bogged down into 24/7 control-freak, “must see every moment,” realism, I do enjoy a moment of downtime in the bar with the gang or a good rousing game of bay ball among the crew to wind up, or wind down at the end of a shift. These moments are where we see the characters as people, like anyone else. I feel these moments show a side of the fantastical that typically gets glossed over in the pursuit of impressive technologies (science fiction), massive world-shattering events (fantasy), stunningly terrifying suspense (horror), and sex, drama, sex, drama, and maybe a little more sex (romance).
Oh, right. Did I mention romance? There are love stories woven in among the rest. The first book, The Messiah of Death, focuses on one couple, but we soon learn there are other romances, flirtations, and friendships where we question where the lines are. It’s a part of life, and as this story unfolded, I told myself, “no rules,” so it became a part of this story as well.
So, there are the primary genres. Science fiction, space opera, horror, fantasy, slice-of-life, and romance blended in a way that I hope is compelling and fun to read.
Which reminds me, there is one more genre involved: comedy. Let’s be honest. How many of us don’t know at least a few people that react to the worst situations with a healthy dose of humor? Or, more likely, an extreme dose of cursing that makes everyone around them think it’s funny. I may have watched a bit too much modern comedy. Blame the shows The Marvelous Mrs. Maysel, Fleabag, anything starring Danny McBride, or any comedy movie with a disclaimer up-front.
If you don’t find epic profanity-laced rants funny? This may not be a work of fiction for you.
The Heart of The Hollander Chronicles
In the summer of 2021, after a year and some change of the waning and waxing of COVID restrictions, masking, and attempting to keep ourselves even more isolated than us loner types typically do in order to stay safe and keep others safe, there was a bit of a void in my mind. In that void were thoughts of various properties I’d loved over the years and how they might come together to tell a story no one else had told before were brewing.
And then Supernatural ended. It had been the longest-running genre show on television. Who could have guessed when we watched the first few episodes that Sam, Dean, and Baby, their dad’s black 1967 Chevy Impala, would become such a big part of our entertainment lives? There was something magical about that show. And I’m not just talking about the djinn and witches. That show had what so many modern shows miss: heart. Whether it was Sam and Dean playing practical jokes on each other or standing with their hunter friends against every power you could imagine in the universe, all of whom were determined to end them, there was always so much heart in the story. Even the worst season of the show was better than most.
And what show would open an episode with the baddest of bad-asses running screaming from a tiny little dog as if he was certain he was going to die? Their ability to poke fun at their own concepts is what I admired the most about the show. And I hope that comes across to anyone reading The Hollander Chronicles. There may be a serious bent to the overall plot, but this is all a big ball of fun in the end.
A big dramatic moment in Supernatural was never far from a blatant joke about where they were. The best of those jokes stand up against any sitcom for comedy, maybe specifically because of how straight certain cast members could play it. Sometimes it was specifically because they stopped caring about playing it straight.
I would be lying if I said Supernatural was the only influence I took in. There’s a touch of Battlestar Galactica, which is likely apparent to anyone who reads even a little of the story. In those opening scenes, in my mind Captain Hollander was a near direct copy of Starbuck (Katie Sackhoff) from Battlestar Galactica, played as if she’d come into the military with the right attitude, and the right talent to climb the ranks without issue. Commander Stephens was a stand-in for Saul (Michael Hogan) on the same show, though because of who the captain was, he loved her dearly, and their occasional spat is much more subdued than the Starbuck / Saul war of attrition in Battlestar Galactica. Well, aside from small moments when some aspect of Commander Stephens makes him dig in harder than he should.
So, why vampires?
We’ve had our share of vampire shows and movies pass before our eyes. The Twilight movies, of course, are a part of that list. “Terrible films,” he says as he contemplates watching them for the seventh time all the way through. Please, no one take that personally. You can objectively know something’s awful and still have a fondness for it. My copy of The Room is jumping around on the shelf behind me to remind me I love terrible things.
Before and during the COVID situation, we watched True Blood for the first time. “Fuckin’ Sookie,” still gets uttered randomly around the house because of that show. It did have its charms, despite the showrunners’ best efforts to hide those charms in cringe at times.
Then we launched into a long marathon of Vampire Diaries, The Originals, and Legacies. We continued watching Legacies week-to-week until they ended the show just this year. I’m more than a little disappointed, as I think Legacies may have had the best self-aware humor of any vampire, werewolf, and witch infested show I’ve ever seen. Their self-aware episodes were the best. When the girls got high and thought they were pink pandas, then lived out the experience of a story Lizzy had written as a young child, we laughed the entire time despite the stakes of what they were doing.
Then there are shows like The 100, another that ended during this same time period. That show’s fun with meta references was fantastic. Several times characters would come in with these legends of characters they’re just meeting, talking about their favorites.
There’s the top-level of the influences that launched The Hollander Chronicles, but no list of influences would be complete without mentioning that sitcoms of all stripes also influenced my brain. And there are a lot of those in my past. The Office, both UK and US versions, percolate through my mind regularly, and I doubt I could turn off their influence on my writing if I tried. Community, a show we just finished a re-watch of in the past week, also played a part. I love the meta stuff here, with even more of it than The 100 pulled off, and there will be a lot of meta in The Hollander Chronicles as the story continues.
I won’t even bother mentioning the list of eighties sitcoms that influenced me as well.
Going further back, there are all the books I read growing up and still read today. Starting with Laura Ingalls Wilder and Mark Twain, then moving on to names like Dan Simmons, Douglas Adams, Stephen King, Magaret Weiss and Tracey Hickman (their team-up books are incredible to this day), Greg Bear, Frank Herbert, oh my, this list could fill the site with names and probably still not be complete.
And then there are the horror movies: Hellraiser, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Poltergeist, Killer Klowns from Outer Space. This is another list that could go on and on forever.
That’s the problem with trying to list all the influences I allow to seep into The Hollander Chronicles. The only rule is to maintain self-consistency. Everything else is fair game.
Maybe I should stop there? But there is one more thing that I should mention.
Cue the Music
My main male character in book one, and a front-runner throughout the story’s main thread, grew up in my era. I like to tell people he grew up down the street from me. There was a guy that grew up down the street from me from whom I take some of Charles’ characteristics. Still, mostly I took Damon Salvatore from the Vampire Diaries, The Originals, and Legacies continuity and shaved off his evil tendencies, then blended in a little from that guy down the street when it comes to humor, self-deprecation, and humility.
Music was a huge part of my life growing up and still is in many ways. My blackened metal heart will never die, at least not until I do. That’s a truth I can confirm by turning around from my writing desk and staring at my Marshall amps and the wall of guitars at my side. I can’t hear a song off the first four Metallica albums without feeling the chord shapes in my mind, if not my fingers, as I’ve played them so many times. The big four (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax) were huge influences on me. However, that list is far from a complete list of musical influences: Exodus, Flotsam & Jetsam, Nuclear Assault, Overkill, Death (CHUCK SCHULDINER! R.I.P.), Obituary, Pestilence, Atheist; if you think my list of author influences is ridiculous, I’m not even sure I’d have time to list all the musical ones.
The nice thing is, I somehow manage to shoe-horn in a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle references to all of this, but it doesn’t negatively impact the story for new readers if they don’t know all these references. My wife had no idea until I told her the FVET call-signs were all musical references except for Deader, whose call-sign comes from a Hellraiser movie subtitle, yet she enjoyed the story for what it is. Aside from Chuck’s sometimes over-the-top call-outs (SLAYER!), the references are nice little easter eggs for the readers in the know. Except when they aren’t.
That’s the joy of a story with no rules. You can play with the line until you get bored with it, then you can smash the line into oblivion and pretend it never existed in the first place.
What is The Hollander Chronicles?
That brings us back to our original question. What is The Hollander Chronicles?
The Hollander Chronicles is my attempt to create a universe that, while often tragic, filled with horror, death, and loss, is fun to visit for those of us living in this century. Maybe, if I’m lucky, it will remain fun to visit in the future. My initial agenda remains the same: Ask myself questions about the universe I want to create, then answer those questions by writing stories entertaining enough to share.
The overall story will not be short, as if anyone who has read books one and two wouldn’t know that already. I have a very solid idea of where it’s all going. I have a loose schedule for how long I want each section of the story to take. And in my mind, I even have season breaks and side-plots, each to be filled out when there’s a momentary lull in the main storyline. I want every single episode filled with fun along the way, but I also want those big moments to seem as impactful as they would be to the people living through them.
What is The Hollander Chronicles? It’s long-form fiction being released as books (episodes) that, when brought together, will tell one complete story. Not every book will have the same tone. Some will be more comedic and fun, while others will be grimmer and filled with intrigue. And sometimes, it all gets jumbled together in a mishmash of craziness that’s tough to describe to someone without just handing them the book or the draft and saying, “Here, you decide.”
I’m trying to stick to a release schedule. Seeing as I have a day job and other obligations, I know I may not always make that schedule, but I’ll try. In a way, the whole thing is a tribute to the long-winded serial novels of yesteryear, hopefully with more meat per book than many of those had.
If you’ve read this far and aren’t balking at the concept, I invite you to read the sample chapters on the episode guide. Ebooks are available from most retailers that sell them. And links exist to purchase directly from the publisher. I also include links for “in-stock” books I can personalize, sign and ship to you the next business day if you’d care to have signed copies, and usually at a substantial discount over retail price. As always, contacting the author through email or the message board is an option if you’re looking for a copy of any book, or just have a question or comment you’d like for me have a chance to answer.
A Final Word
The Hollander Chronicles is my indulgence. While there may be another once it’s over, it’s a long, long way from over. This will be the story I want to tell, told the way I want to tell it. Thus far, reactions have been positive for those brave enough to take a chance on some weird old white guy from South Dakota putting words before their eyes. And while I’m sure, if it begins to gain any form of traction, there will be negative reviews, I’m hopeful that most that read it will see it for the fun trip it’s meant to be.
Our journey with Annie and Chuck has just begun. Bombast Icilise awaits, and there is the special moment that God so fears. I hope you’ll join us and meet our cast of fun, grumpy, fantastical, and ordinary characters. And I hope you’ll enjoy your journey with us.
With much sincerity, heartfelt thanks to my supporters, and a humble appreciation for the written word, I say to you all:
“Cue the music. Let’s get this party started.”
—Nathaniel Jay Lee