Stephanie asked this question:
Preface: I’m very fond of Theo. Her chapters were published while I was pregnant with my two youngest children. I ticked of weeks of pregnancy with happy exclamations of “the new chapter is here.”
My question: Her books seem harder for you to write. That’s just my impression from reading your blog. I wondered if you knew why and or if that impression is accurate.
Now that’s an interesting observation.
In fact, the first two Theo books — Fledgling and Saltation were a lot of fun to write. The live-without-a-net thing was exhilarating of itself, taking the writing to the level of Performance Art. Also, starting a new series is always fun because you’re shooting from the hip, you have no backstory to constrain you (well, we had Daav’s backstory, but Jen Sar Kiladi’s accomplishments were not known to Clan Korval — he could have been anyone; done anything. We-the-authors had known Approximately Forever that he had a daughter during his time away from the Clan, and we had some. . .Ideas about what he might’ve been doing (I found an early piece, in fact, in that file of typed and 9-pinned early scenes that tells of his leave-taking from his mistress — who was. . .a very different person from Kamele Waitley), but really, mostly, as far as Theo and Kamele — and therefore their readers — were concerned, Jen Sar was precisely who and what he said he was.
In any case, the first two Theo books were lots of fun.
Where things began to get. . .let’s say sticky, rather than not-fun, since we know from experience that anything sufficiently not-fun won’t get written — is when Theo catches up to, and needs to be rectified with, the Clan Korval backstory.
Small Confession: I’ve always found Theo more difficult to write than Steve has found. Theo is a Lot More Earnest than I can easily support, and she had. . .less access to irony and sarcasm. Miri, Val Con — Daav himself, are much easier characters for me to write.
The stickiness referred to above was increased somewhat by Baen’s viewpoint as a publisher. If you’ll recall, Fledgling was the first Liaden book that Baen had acquired (I’m not talking about the Webscriptions electronic reprints, which were not seen as “belonging” to Baen). Therefore, from the publisher’s viewpoint, All Books Going Forward — were Theo books.
We tried that, with Ghost Ship and Dragon Ship, each progressively harder to write. When it came time to pitch the next “Liaden” book — aka the next Theo book — we realized that the problem was this. . .
In-universe, there’s a lot of stuff going on for Clan Korval, and Theo’s Stuff is only part of a much, much bigger picture. We had been trying to fit all the Other Stuff around Theo’s Stuff — and it was cramping our style.
This was the realization from which the Five Book Dash was born. Five books, all pointing in the same direction, each giving scope to a mover and shaker in the Liaden Universe®, only one of which is (projected to be) Theo-centric.
This solution made the back-brain happy, which will, in turn, make happy writers, and books that are less sticky to write.
Thanks for asking!