I’m about a third done writing Dunmoore Book 2, and it’s going along fairly well although strangely enough, the dialogue parts seem to be easier to write than the descriptive parts, and I think it has a bit to do with my current reading. Late last year, I picked up the early works of a series I avidly read as a teenager, and which, now that I think of it, was what got me into reading science-fiction in the first place. As you can imagine, they’re light and easy, and that’s fine because I can’t get into more demanding stuff after spending hours in front of a computer being creative. I just now realized that they rely heavily on dialogue to advance the story.
That got me thinking about what has influenced my writing. It began with the Bob Morane books, which started off as conventional adventure stories but quickly began adding elements of speculative fiction and then outright science fiction, and yes, I read them in French – speaking several languages was one of the benefits of growing up in a military family. I then discovered Jules Verne in my high school library and tore through those on dark and cold winter nights, not yet realizing that good old Jules was one of the founding fathers of hard science-fiction. A lot of his writing was strangly prescient. Growing up the son of a soldier, it was natural that I’d gravitate to things military, and I discovered Starship Troopers when I was 15. That proved to be the trigger for my immersion in military sci-fi and a life long love for the genre: Drake’s Slammers, Pournelle’s Falkenberg, and many others. I think Pournelle was the most influential for me at the time.
I joined the Army at 17 and over the ensuing years, spent a lot of time reading military non-fiction for professional reasons, and military fiction for fun. I discovered WEB Griffin’s Brotherhood of War series, and was pleased to see the follies and foibles of my own Army reflected in his stories. I was also introduced to historical fiction set during the Napoleonic Wars, starting with CS Forester’s Hornblower, Dudley Pope’s Ramage, Alexander Kent’s Bolitho, Richard Woodman’s Nathaniel Drinkwater and Patrick O’Brien’s excellent Aubrey and Maturin stories. Not content to remain at sea, I also devoured George McDonald Fraser’s Flashman and Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe. Many other historical and contemporary naval and military adventure series passed through my hands over the years, but these were the most influential, so you can see where my inspiration for Siobhan Dunmoore and her Navy came from. It’s a bit strange for a former soldier to be writing about a future navy, but of my two books published to date, Dunmoore’s story received the most critical acclaim (and the most sales!), and one of the principles of war is to reinforce success. I have many Dunmoore story ideas rattling around in my brain, including a couple of adventures set before No Honor in Death so there should be no dearth of material, and I seem to recall that publishing stories in no particular chronological order was not uncommon among many of my favourite authors. At some point in the future, I might look at some earlier groundpounder stories that sit in my unpublished archives, but that’s for another discussion.
Back to Dunmoore Book 2. I wish I could figure out a title that works for me, but it’ll either come as I stare at the ceiling during another bout of insomnia, or in a mad last minute rush before the publication date. Writing good dialogue is a lot easier.