Hello, everyone—It’s Colleen, although you’ll see me writing as C.M. Simpson and Carlie Simonsen, pretty much most days. I’ve written a lot of short fiction, and will continue to do that in the future, but, this year, I’m kicking off with some novels for C.M. Simpson. (Next year, it’s Carlie’s turn.)
The Evolution of a Universe
I’ve done novels before, and even completed a fantasy trilogy, but this year I’m working on my first science fiction series, and put a bit of a twist into it. The funny thing is that these characters didn’t come with a series in mind… or even a novel. They arrived in dribs and drabs as I wrote flash fiction for my first two flash fiction collections… and then they decided they had to have a short story… and then they wanted a novel.
And then they decided that they belonged in the same universe as Agent Delight of Odyssey, and that she should become a feature of their stories, as well—and they didn’t stop there. Because of the novels, I have discovered that many of the short stories I’ve written belong in the same universe, and that’s made my life both easier and harder, which brings me what’s good and bad about writing a series.
Pros and Cons of Writing in a Known Universe
Writing stories in a known universe is easier than writing a stand-alone, because I know a lot more about my universe than if I had to start it off from scratch. I can draw from events and characters that I’ve written about before, and I’ve got a lot more to build on. The universe feels more real as a result.
But writing in a known universe is also harder, because I have to remember where the characters have met before, and where on the universe’s timeline they are in relation to what’s happened. I don’t have time-travel—that I know of—so there’s no easy out if I mess it up.
(Pro Tip: Create a ‘bible’ for your universe where you note down every person, place, event, or item that you name in your universe, and the story it can be found in. You’ll need it as you create more stories in that setting.)
When I decided to write my current series, I didn’t know Agent Delight was linked to the universe; that came out in the first book, and it meant I had to remember there were a bunch of short stories and flash fiction about her that I had to keep at the back of my mind. It also meant there was a bunch of information I could draw from when I was building my series’ universe.
Overall, I’ve found writing this series has gotten easier as time has gone on, and that’s solely because there is so much already in place. Apart from keeping things straight in the stories, I’ve yet to discover any real down sides.
An Overview of the Mack ‘n’ Me ‘n’ Odyssey Series
I’m planning this to be a six-book series, and will be releasing the fourth book, Mack ‘n’ Me: The Transporter’s Favour, in the next fortnight. Next year, I’ll release a collection of all the flash fiction and short stories around these characters, but that’s a little way off, right now. Each book has so far dealt with slightly different opponents, and each book has linked the series’ setting to previous short stories.
Book 1, , surprised me by being the story of how Cutter joined Mack’s crew. It also brought Delight and Odyssey to the setting, and saw Cutter dealing with Odyssey’s claim on her life, and a master of genetic mutation with a technological twist. This is followed by the short story, , in which Cutter meets Abby, a sentient courier ship, and tells the story of what happened immediately after ends.
The short story, , fits in before Book 2, . In , Mack and Cutter mess up the plans of a some space-faring werewolves, and in , Cutter and Mack work together to deal with a marriage alliance that had gone off the tracks, and noble rivalries. It also introduces the arach, a race of space-faring shape-shifting spiders.
Book 3, , focuses on the arach, but introduces the world of K’Kavor, with its wasp and spider races. And Book 4, Mack ‘n’ Me: The Transporter’s Favour tells the story of what happens when Abby calls on Cutter to pay the favour she owes—and introduces the wolves of the Star Shadow clan.
You can find the first chapters of the first three novels on —and the first chapter for this title will be available on the 16th. I’ve included a brief excerpt from the next release, but, be warned, the main character swears a lot—and the rest of the crew aren’t much better.
Story Excerpt from Mack ‘n’ Me: The Transporter’s Favour
The Marie hung in orbit around Lichcomb’s World, and we could see at a glance that she was in trouble. The four bright dots coming in hard from the planet below were military grade, and they were hailing as they came.
“Shady Marie stand down. Put your weapons on hold. We are going to board.”
Rohan’s defiant near-adult pseudo-bass came as a surprise.
“Like Hell, you are. Case!”
And Abby and I watched as the Marie’s engines flared.
Flared and died.
And… Well, Rohan’s vocabulary of swears had expanded since I’d first noticed his limited range of f&%$s.
“Wow,” I managed, listening to Case laughing so hard she had to be falling out of her chair. “Just. Wow. I wonder where he learned that!”
“Hmmm. I don’t.” Abby didn’t sound amused, and neither did the voice hailing from the incoming shuttles.
“Insults to our parentage will not reactivate your drives, Marie. Now put your mother on.”
Rohan’s response was immediate, and held an all too familiar tone.
“I’m sorry, s#%t-for-brains, mother can’t make it to the comms, right now. You’ll just have to kiss my a$%.”
“Oh. That’s not good.”
“You’re telling me,” Abby said. “Those mercs are going to have him for breakfast.”
“Mack will be upset if the Marie gets dented. Rohan doesn’t know what he’s playing with.”
“No, he really doesn’t,” and something in Abby’s tone made me take a closer look at the shuttles.
“Tell me they’re not.”
“Wish I could, sweetie, but I think he upset them.”
Upset wasn’t quite the word I’d have used, but Abs was right. The four drop-ships had gone weapons hot, and they hadn’t slowed down.
“Stand your crew down, cub. This isn’t meant to be a kill mission.”
Well, that was good to know.
“Cub,” Abby said, as though that explained everything, and maybe it did. “Their leader’s a wolf.”
“Yeah, you know, wolf. Like the wolves of Lunar One, or the hunt clans four systems over.”
“No, sorry. You are talking four-legged dog-things that hunt in packs, right?”
“No, sweetie. I’m talking werewolves.”
Well, f#@%. Not more shapeshifters. Weren’t the arach enough for a single universe?
You can find me at the following locations:
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And you can find the books for this series at quite a few retailers—here are the Books2Read links so you can buy them from the one you prefer:
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