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Writers On The Town

AN-WesCharlesOttawaThree writers get together to celebrate the impending marriage of one of them. This story isn’t quite a cliche, but it’s highly predictable: a lot of drinking, probably some debauchery, and an awful lot of existential talk about the future, regrets, and failed hopes. Writers are endlessly moody, and there’s no way they could pass by a life milestone without some heavy atmosphere.

Unless, of course, they’re Wes Prewer, Charles Chiang, and me.

A lot has changed for all three of us since we collaborated on Finding the Range. Most notable among these changes: Wes is less than two months away from marrying his bride-to-be, Jamie. Given these circumstances, it seemed essential that I take a trip from Edmonton to Ottawa to celebrate the impending end to his bachelordom… and since I was making the trek east, Charles turned north from Toronto, and joined us.

This was a surprise for Wes, of course –– he knew I’d be present, but the involvement of the third Seas of Sand writer was unknown, as were our plans for the day. And in defiance of all stereotypes for young men (worse, young writers) on the town, those plans included… museums.

Indeed, we are that boring.

AN-WesCharlesTankThe Canadian War Museum is one of my favorite destinations in Ottawa. I’m biased, because my thesis advisor from bygone days, Roger Sarty, was one of the historians behind its design. Andrew Iarocci, one of the experts who taught me First World War history, also ran its vehicle collection for some time. It’s informative, interesting, and fun… and because he lives in Ottawa, Wes had never been (you know how it is, you often never visit the ‘tourist’ sites in your own town).

A morning there — including me smelling Phosgene (yes, from The Dark Cruise), Charles running NORAD’s control center during a Cold War nuclear apocalypse, and Wes getting ideas about ‘recognition models’ for the DCN — was hugely enjoyable, and greatly inspiring.

The afternoon was when we really got into it, though: crossing the river into Quebec, we arrived at the similarly-excellent Canadian Museum of History, where a room had been prepared for us — a room with a view.

AN-AdmiraltyHouseQCThis is about as close to Defense Command’s Admiralty House as you’re going to get: a view of the Parliament buildings while you settle in around a table to decide the fate of Empires. We were working, of course, on Black Sun, a series in which characters overtly based on both Wes and Charles factor largely.

It’s no secret that I’ve been working on various concepts for the series for a few years, but as with so many things, sometimes you just need to be patient, and let them soak.

I don’t think there’s much soaking left to do, though.

After nearly six straight hours of discussion and brainstorming, the arc of the series seems very much in hand, and the characters are coming together. Insightful feedback from fine writers –– both about what characters based on them might do, and on what their expertise suggests might come out of the plot –– is endlessly useful.

I’ve said it before, but I can never say it enough: I’m privileged to have great people involved in all these stories.

AN-WesCharlesPlanningWe also spoke of Seas of Sand –– about how the publishing world has changed since our collaborative effort in Wes’s universe. Expect to see a return to the sands of Mars someday in the future… in the meantime, we’re all rather caught up in other important things. Wes most of all, because in June he’s taking on a whole new set of responsibilities –– responsibilities of the best kind.

I’ll undoubtedly share more of what we discussed about Black Sun in the near future. Wes will also be deeply involved in something coming up next year –– the year that marks the tenth anniversary of the launch of Defense Command.

But for now, I’ll just thank the Canadian War Museum and the Canadian Museum of History for being such excellent hosts for our day on the town, and close simply with this:

Wes and Jamie, very best wishes from all of us at Iceberg. I’ll see you in June.AN-WesJamie2015