Symbiosis is one of my proudest accomplishments. It's the culmination of thirteen years of planning and hard work. I wrote the novel in the first few months of 2014, but I had been planning it since 2001. I must have reinvented the Justice Keepers Saga at least a dozen times before I finally sat down and wrote the first book.
What's more, I was suffering from headaches and nausea as a result of fading eyesight while I wrote this book. It was a major step in slowly climbing out of a pit of depression that I had sank into when my eyesight began to fail.
I like to describe the book as the illegitimate love child of Star Trek and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Warning: spoilers follow beyond this point.
I'm a discovery writer, which means that my characters frequently surprise me. I'm also the sort of writer who insists on never violating character in the service of the plot. You should never make your reader say “But so and so wouldn't do that,” and if the only way to make a story work is to break character in this way...Well, then your story doesn't work, and it's time to go back to basics.
Jack and Anna have always had a very special chemistry, and I was expecting them to bond quickly. In fact, it was one of the cornerstones of this series. However, I did not expect their romantic feelings to surface as quickly as they did. And this is where staying true to character becomes a major issue.
By the middle of the book, it was clear to me that Anna and Jack had grown very close in a way that pushed the limits of what could be called friendship. I wasn't ready for them to begin a romantic relationship. So, how to handle this? Well, there were two options. One was to have them simply ignore their feelings or perhaps to write them as oblivious to the growing affection between them.
But Jack and Anna are very smart people, both very in touch with their emotions. Neither one would do that. So, it was either rework the entire book or roll with it. No matter how careful you are in your planning, you will always come across a scenario in which you just have to roll with it.
In this case, “rolling with it” meant having the two characters acknowledge their feelings before I was ready for them to do so. This, in part, led to the decision to have Anna transferred off world at the end of the book. That dovetails nicely with the overall plot as separating Jack and Anna would be a major priority for Slade.
The action scenes were a lot of fun to write. I'm a big fan of Sanderson's three laws of magic, which means that in my books, special powers work in very predictable ways and come with hard limitations. It's actually the limitations that make the scenes fun to write because those limits require me to think tactically and come up with clever ways to get my characters out of a bind.
Harry was one of the more pleasant surprises in this story. I'm surprised by how vivid he felt to me while I was writing him. As I neared the end of the book, I knew he would be a major player throughout the rest of the series.
Well, that's about as much as I can say without giving away too many spoilers. So, give the book a read if you want to learn more.