Today I am interviewing Jay Posey, author of the new science-fiction novel, Sungrazer, second book in the Outriders series.
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DJ: Hey Jay! Welcome back to MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape! This is actually your third time here 🙂
For readers who might have missed previous interviews and aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Jay Posey: Hi DJ, thanks for inviting me back!
I’m Jay Posey, author of the post-apocalyptic Legends of the Duskwalker trilogy, and the military SF Outriders series. For my day job, I’m a writer and game designer for Ubisoft/Red Storm Entertainment, where I’ve worked on things like Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six franchises, and most recently the VR game Star Trek: Bridge Crew.
DJ: What is Sungrazer and also the Outriders series about?
Jay: The Outriders series is about Captain Lincoln Suh and his 519th Applied Intelligence Group (aka “the Outriders”), an elite team of death-proofed special operators who go do all of the jobs that no one is supposed to ever find out about. To this point in the series, most of their time has been spent trying to prevent the outbreak of the first interplanetary war, between Earth and Mars.
In Sungrazer, Lincoln and his team have to track down a missing city-killing space-based weapon before its deployed. Naturally, it’s even harder than it sounds.
DJ: What were some of your influences for the Outriders series?
Jay: The biggest influence is undoubtedly the work I’ve done in game development, particularly on the Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon franchise. I’ve had the genuine privilege of getting to meet and interact with a number of special operators over the years from a variety of branches, and that’s played a big part in informing the series and the kinds of stories I wanted to tell.
There’s so much more to special operations forces than kicking doors and pulling triggers, but often that’s the only part we focus on in video games. So the Outriders series is, for me, a way to look at other aspects of that world.
There was also an old pen-and-paper RPG called Living Steel back in the late 80s that I discovered when I was a kid. It was my introduction to the idea of powered armor, and it left quite an impression on me (even though I never actually played a campaign, because the rules were so complex!).
The Outriders have extremely advanced power armor, but it’s designed primarily for reconnaissance and infiltration rather than full-on assault, so that’s been a fun concept to play with.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Jay: The Outriders are a team of five, so I won’t go into each one of them, but I’ll talk about a couple. I can’t really speak as to what makes them compelling to readers, since I’m sure it’s different for each person. But I can at least share what makes them interesting to me.The main character is Captain Lincoln Suh; he’s a veteran of special operations forces, but he’d never planned on ending up in the 519th Applied Intelligence Group. He didn’t even know it existed, until he got recruited by its commanding officer. The thing that helps make him compelling to me is that he’s not the Most Elite Super Soldier in the Army, and he knows it. He’s extremely capable of course, but it’s really his humility that makes him effective and earned him his place as team lead. There’s a balancing act for him. He genuinely believes the people around him are better than he is at the things they do, so at times he wrestles with whether or not it’s right for him to be calling the shots; as if maybe there’s someone out there who would have been a better choice. But, at the same time, recognizing the strengths of his teammates and knowing when to take charge or when to step back is what makes him so effective. For me, that sort of informed uncertainty makes him interesting.
Another character is Sergeant Avery Coleman, better known as Thumper. She’s the resident genius and handles most everything technical, but it would be a mistake to think she’s just an egghead. She’s a top-tier mixed martial artist and shooter, so she can mix it up with the best of them. I personally like her a lot, but I was actually surprised at how popular a character she is; I’ve heard from a number of fans that she is their favorite of the team. She really likes math and science and sort of assumes everyone else finds the subjects equally fascinating. For me, I think it’s her toughness and combat capabilities combined with an endearing over-enthusiasm for nerdy topics that make her so likeable. And I have to confess, I like her a lot because often when I’ve written the team into some tough situation I don’t know how to get them out of, she always manages to find a way. Sometimes I feel like I didn’t create her so much as just discover her.
DJ: What is the world and setting of the Outriders series like?
Jay: In the Outriders series, humans have colonized Mars and have thousands of space stations, but haven’t really made it outside of the asteroid belt yet. Earth isn’t unified under a single government. The geopolitical situation has changed, some nations have disappeared while others have emerged, new alliances have formed, but a lot of the same conflicts and debates aren’t all that different from what we’re experiencing now. Which is to say, people are still pretty much people.
During these books, relations between Earth and Mars are strained and getting worse, and there’s something of a cold war between actors on both planets. Most of the Outriders’ work is being done to prevent the outbreak of open war between powerful factions.
DJ: How have the reviews been from readers, bloggers, and reviewers for the first book, Outriders? Is there anything that your audience seems to be particularly enjoying or is eager to find out more about?
Jay: Outriders has been very well received. Typically the positive feedback I get is about the characters on the team, their interactions with each other, and also about the authentic feeling of how they operate. I’ve had several people in the law enforcement and military communities reach out to let me know how much they appreciate how I represent tactics, for example, which is extremely gratifying, since I’ve never actually served in the military.
DJ: Now, what do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish Sungrazer?
Jay: Hopefully about how much they want a third book!
I’m never sure what’s going to stick with readers, so I’m not sure I can really answer this meaningfully. But Sungrazer gets a little more into the spy side of things than Outriders did, so I hope that people will enjoy that.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Sungrazer?
Jay: It was probably split between getting to develop the relationships between all the Outriders further, and the introduction of a new character named Elliott.
In the first book, there was a lot of time spent introducing characters to one another, and Lincoln learning about the Outriders and what it meant to be part of that team. So with Sungrazer, it was nice to be able to go a little deeper and continue to build those relationships.
And Elliott was just a fun character to work with. The scene where he’s introduced was probably the most entertaining chapter for me to write.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing the Outriders series? Sungrazer is on the second books in the series, but is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Jay: Though of course my first priority is to tell cool stories that people want to read, the underlying motivation for the series was to have a chance to share my perspective on the people who serve in special operations forces. I think often it’s easy to forget that these are real people doing real jobs that just also happen to have to deal with high stakes and indescribably intense situations. They don’t all think alike, they deal with tedious frustrations at work (like endless powerpoint presentations), and they’ve each got their own unique story.
As an outsider who has been given a little access to that world, I know what misconceptions I had about special operations, and I know how meeting the people who do this kind of work for real opened my eyes.
So even though I know I will never get all the details exactly right, this series is my vehicle to try to help represent those men and women hopefully in a way that is authentic and helps us all better appreciate their service.
I don’t know that I would say Sungrazer has a message or theme, exactly, but one thing I kept returning to while I was writing the book was the idea of second chances; the thought that no matter how many wrong decisions you’ve made, you’ve never gone so far that you can’t turn back and start making the right ones. (That will probably only make sense to people who’ve actually read it, though.)
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 Sungrazer that you can share with us?
Jay: I’m not sure anyone else will find it funny, but at one point in Sungrazer, when the team is gearing up for a mission, Mikey, the team’s sniper, says “Remember, slow is smooth and smooth is fast … but fast and smooth is best.”
The first part is a well-known bit from the shooting world, the “but fast and smooth is best” part is Mikey’s little addition. The reason it sticks with me is because I had forgotten I had written that and when I was doing a re-read it made me chuckle, and it’s pretty rare that I find my own writing amusing. That might have been the only time, in fact.
DJ: Now that Sungrazer is released, what is next for you?
Jay: I’m hard at work on developing ideas for Next Projects, by which I mean mostly I’m procrastinating and freaking out that maybe I have already written the best book I will ever write.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jay-Posey/e/B00J2161YM
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Sungrazer and the Outriders series that we haven’t talked about yet?
Jay: That you don’t have to be a fan of military science-fiction to enjoy Sungrazer or the Outriders series! I’ve had several readers contact me to let me know that they aren’t typically science-fiction readers, but that they gave the book a chance on someone else’s recommendation and really enjoyed it. The fact that I’ve heard that from multiple people makes me suspect there are enough military/thriller elements to the book to entertain even folks who don’t usually have spaceships and power armor in their stories.
And the author Kevin Maurer was kind enough to say the following about Outriders: “A few pages into Outriders and I forgot the book was set in a sci-fi world. Jay nails the mindset and the dynamics of a special operations unit. Keenly written with authentic characters, Outriders was one of the best sci-fi books I’ve read in a long time.”
For those who don’t know, Kevin is the author of several books, including the #1 NYT Bestseller No Easy Day, which covered the raid on bin Laden. He’s written about the military for over a decade and has been embedded with special operators on multiple occasions, so I took his words as very high praise.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?
Jay: If you don’t mind, I’d like to quickly highlight an organization I support called Hope for the Warriors. Hope for the Warriors is a highly-rated veteran service organization that provides comprehensive support programs for service members, veterans, and military families that are focused on transition, health and wellness, peer engagement, and connections to community resources. They’re an excellent organization, and if any of your readers are interested in helping to support service members and their families, I encourage them to visit http://www.hopeforthewarriors.org/ to learn more.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Jay: Thanks so much for inviting me back again! Always a pleasure!
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*** Sungrazer is published by Angry Robot and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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In a new Cold War between Earth and the colonies on Mars, when devastating weapons go missing, there’s only one team you can call – the Outriders. A crack force of highly specialised super-soldiers, their clone bodies are near-immortal.
When a fully-autonomous vessel with orbital strike capabilities goes missing, it’s up to the Outriders to track the untrackable. But when the trail leads them to the influential Martian People’s Collective Republic, the operation gets a lot more complicated…
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 Six franchises. 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.