Today I am interviewing Jay Posey, author of the Legends of the Duskwalker trilogy, and the new military science-fiction novel, Outriders, first book of the Outriders series.
◊ ◊ ◊
DJ: Hey Jay! Thanks for stopping by to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Jay: Hiya DJ! Thanks so much for inviting me to stop by!
These days I mostly tell people I’m a professional typist. I have a day job as a narrative designer at Ubisoft/Red Storm Entertainment, which is a video game development studio originally founded by Tom Clancy. Narrative design is still a pretty squishy term in the game industry, but basically on any given day, I might be doing typical writer-y type tasks (writing dialogue, creating characters, writing back story, planning the overall story structure, etc.) or I might be doing more typical game designer-y tasks, or something in between. I’m also (obviously) an author. I’m also also a husband and a dad, so between the family, the books, and the day job, that’s pretty much all I do. But a lot of it involves me sitting at a keyboard, so “professional typist” seems to capture it all pretty well.
DJ: What is Outriders about?
JP: Outriders is about a small team of death-proofed special operations soldiers trying to prevent the first interplanetary war.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Outriders and the whole Outriders series?
JP: The biggest influence was undoubtedly the men and women I’ve gotten to talk to who do this sort of thing for real. Most of my time as a game developer has been working on the Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon franchise, which is about a fictional US Army Special Forces Group. I’ve had the privilege and honor of sitting down with a number of advisors over the years who have been generous enough to talk with me about their experiences in special operations.
I also just love space. After writing the post-apocalyptic Duskwalker series, I really wanted to take on a different setting; something more hopeful and aspirational. Outriders was a great opportunity to set my sights outward, and putting that together with the special operations influence just clicked for me.
And I got the name of the team (the Outriders) from watching old Westerns.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main character? Does he have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with him?
JP: The main character in Outriders is Captain Lincoln Suh, and I think one of the things that makes him stand out so much is how very normal he is. That probably sounds strange, but Outriders is a book about some of the most elite soldiers in the world, and the juxtaposition of Lincoln’s impressive skill set with his regular guy-ness makes him interesting to me. Yes, he is exceptional at what he does. But he’s also just a human; he’s the kind of guy you could bump into at a family picnic and never realize that he had just been out a few days before, running a black ops raid on a space station.
He also drinks a lot of coffee.
DJ: The Outriders are the “519th Applied Intelligence Group.” What exactly is it that Outriders do?
JP: The Outriders are an intelligence-gathering unit first. They just happen to be really good at shooting and blowing things up too, in case they have to.
But they exist, primarily, to go into the places that no one else can reach to gather information no one else can get. Their job is to help the larger military command structure get a true picture of events before any decisions get made. And they go in ahead of anyone else; sometimes to prepare the way or, in the best possible cases, to make sure no one else has to be sent at all. When the Outriders do the job right, problems disappear, and someone else always gets the credit.
(But it’s a complex and risky job, and almost never goes as planned.)
DJ: What is the world of the Outriders series like?
JP: The Outriders world is basically our world advanced and projected forward for a couple of generations. In it, we’ve colonized the moon and Mars and have scattered a lot of space stations between here and there, but have mostly been content with that expansion. The asteroid belt is still considered to be “way out there”, so for a book about space, we’re still pretty local neighborhood.
A lot of the same nations exist, though new alliances have been formed. The entire North and South American continents, for example, have formed the United American Federation, but the partner nations all still maintain sovereignty. Mars has a number of colonies, each with their own governing bodies, though they all technically fall under the umbrella of the Central Martian Authority.
Certain elements of technology have advanced quite a bit; we’ve figured out how to simulate gravity, for example, and managed to create nearly instantaneous communication across vast distances. And the biggest advance, for the Outriders at least, is the ability to create essentially back ups of people. The Outriders have replica bodies (not clones!) and their consciousnesses are constantly updated and stored, so if the worst happens, they can be recovered, put in a new body, and put back to work. The process is incredibly expensive though, and it doesn’t always work.
Other things aren’t as different. We still don’t have anything close to light-speed travel. And people are still mostly just people. For all the cool tech and toys that the Outriders have, they’re still dealing with politics and budget constraints and all the mundane things that come along with life in general.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Outriders? What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
JP: Hmm, that’s a tough question, but I think probably my favorite moment of writing (apart from finishing it, of course!) was when I finally felt my characters click together as a team. I had strong concepts for each character when I first sat down to write, but it took me some time of working with them to see how they would interact with each other and how they would fit together. One (early) morning, I remember I was working on a scene of the team talking through a problem, and all of a sudden, I felt the “click”, and I knew I’d finally cracked who these five individuals were as a team. That was pretty cool. This will sound weird, but that was when I felt like they invited me in, and I went from being an outsider to being someone they didn’t mind having in their planning room.
As far as readers go, I honestly don’t know what will stick out most to people. A lot of the early feedback I got sort of centered on the book’s credibility; how real the characters felt, and how authentic it seemed to special operations. It seems weird to talk about a spec-ops-in-space book being “grounded”, but that does seem to be an emerging general opinion of it.
DJ: This being your second series, did you learn any valuable tips from writing your first series, Legends of the Duskwalker, that you were able to apply to the Outriders series?
JP: I learned a ton from writing the Duskwalker books, certainly. Probably too much to list, really. But one of the most applicable lessons was how to handle writing for a team. In the second and third books of the Duskwalker trilogy, a seven-person security team plays a prominent role throughout. I learned a lot in working with those characters about how to manage that many different people all at the same time, how to develop a shared identity among them, and how to use their different perspectives and personalities to emphasize different aspects of the story.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Outriders that you can share with us?
JP: One that stands out to me runs along the lines of “We can’t always control the events of our lives. But when we control the aftermath, it is almost the same.”
I think it has a lot more impact in the context of the book, though.
DJ: After Outriders is released, what is next for you?
JP: I’ll actually be taking a brief jaunt into the world of writing fantasy for one novel, and then I suspect I’ll jump right back into the next Outriders book.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
JP: You can find me at any of these fine establishments:
Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/jayposey
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?
JP: I’d like to take a moment to highlight an organization that I’m proud to support. It’s called Hope For The Warriors, and they provide care for post-9/11 service members and their families. I’ve been supporting them for years, and they do amazing and important work. If anybody out there reads Outriders and thinks they’d like to help out our veterans in some meaningful way, I’d encourage them to visit http://www.hopeforthewarriors.org/ to find out more.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
JP: Thanks so much for the invitation!
*** Outriders is published by Angry Robot Books and is available TODAY!!!! ****
About the Book:
Captain Lincoln Suh died on a Wednesday. And things only got harder from there.
Snatched out of special operations and thrown headfirst into a secretive new unit, Lincoln finds himself as the team leader for the 519th Applied Intelligence Group, better known as the Outriders. And his first day on the job brings a mission with the highest possible stakes.
A dangerously cunning woman who most assuredly should be dead has seemingly returned. And her plans aren’t just devastating, they might be unstoppable.
How do you defeat a hidden enemy when you can’t let them know they’ve been discovered?
You send in the Outriders.
Jay is a narrative designer, author, and screenwriter by trade. He started working in the video game industry in 1998, and has been writing professionally for over a decade. Currently employed as Senior Narrative Designer at Red Storm Entertainment, he’s spent around eight years writing and designing for Tom Clancy’s award-winning Ghost Recon and Rainbow Sixfranchises.
A contributing author to the book Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing, Jay has lectured at conferences, colleges, and universities, on topics ranging from basic creative writing skills to advanced material specific to the video game industry.