Adventures in SciFi Publishing is excited to bring you a few words from Michael J. Martinez about his new upcoming series, MAJESTIC-12!
Press Release: http://michaeljmartinez.net/writing/majestic/
- Is there anything else you want to tell us that wasn’t in the press release?
Well, sure, I want to tell you all about it! It’s exciting and I can’t wait for folks to read it. However, it’s still a year off — MJ-12: INCEPTION isn’t out until fall 2016 — so I don’t want to spill the beans right away. With that said, though, I do think this represents a bit of a new direction for my writing. The MAJESTIC-12 series is going to be darker and more morally gray than the DAEDALUS trilogy. There’s more nuance in there, more characterization.
- Where did your initial idea come from for this series?
So while I was a big Star Wars, D&D and SF/F fan growing up, I also had a penchant for early Tom Clancy novels. I love the thriller format, the twists and turns, the big reveals and huge, tense action sequences. So to be able to marry both SF/F and thrillers in a historical fantasy setting was just a no-brainer for me. Once I saw the success of the DAEDALUS trilogy, the idea of mashing these genres together just sort of came together in my head quickly.
- What about this subject matter/time period appealed to you?
When you think about spies and espionage, you absolutely think of the early Cold War period — it was probably the real golden age of loose-cannon intelligence efforts. What do I mean by that? The CIA and other Western intelligence agencies were actively involved in regime change, deposing and propping up puppet governments, assassinations and a huge litany of dirty tricks. And the MGB/KGB was right there with us, just as bad if not worse. If you want to do stories that really touch on government overreach, personal rights and plain old insane stories of crazy schemes, 1940s-50s espionage is just natural.
- What research did you do for this project?
Obviously, there was a lot about the early CIA and MGB and their efforts in Europe, the Middle East, South America — everywhere, really. There are a fair number of historical figures in there, and so I wanted to do justice to them as well. And of course, I had a blast with the MAJESTIC-12 conspiracy theories themselves, looking into the various theories and making sure that I could suborn them properly! Basically, everything you know about MAJESTIC-12 is wrong, at least when it comes to my version.
- What themes will you touch on during this series?
Well, there’s the obvious themes about our intelligence services, and the balance between upholding our values and getting the job done. There are thousands of intelligence officers who are patriotic and do fantastic work, and stay within the bounds of the law. And there have been many instances where some folks have gone beyond the law, beyond oversight. So those political questions and themes interest me. Also, given that INCEPTION is set in the late 1940s, you also have the opportunity to talk about women and people of color in post-war America, and how the negative view of those folks, and their view of themselves, can change dramatically when those individuals suddenly find themselves “Empowered” with superhuman abilities.
- Has your view or direction of the series changed since you first started it?
Honestly? Not really. Talk to me when I’m into book two or three, and maybe that will change. But at the moment, it’s kind of going according to plan, which is scary in and of itself.
- Has your writing process changed after finishing your first series?
A little bit. I’m a major outline fanatic, and I use Excel to map things out. But the form of the thriller tends to include even more twists and turns than usual, so I found that I went back and re-outlined and revised more during drafting than I usually do to account for all the subplots and character notes I was including.
- Can you tell us about some of the characters we will meet during this series?
MAJESTIC-12 is character driven, moreso than my other work. The conflicts aren’t as exogenous as they were in the DAEDALUS series, but rather they come about more organically through the interactions of the characters you meet along the way. It’s a bit like the treatment of character in ASOIAF in that regard, though that’s the only real comparison to GRRM I’m willing to allow myself, or anyone, to make. So with that said, I’m hesitant to introduce too much about the characters right off the bat. But I did make a point of making sure they represented a true cross-cut of America during that time. It’s not a group of white, clean-cut 20-somethings. They are old and young, men and women, representing a variety of ethnicities and places and backgrounds. And during that time period, that results in some great opportunities to tell stories.
- Will this be just a trilogy? Or ongoing?
The deal with Night Shade is for three books, but hey, if there’s demand, I’m happy to do more. I see these books as individual adventures with a loosely overarching metaplot, rather than a tightly interwoven trilogy. The ideal is that if someone picks up MJ-12 book 3 out of nowhere, they’ll get a self-contained, awesome story that won’t require having read the first two — but will make them want to do that anyway.
- The Daedalus trilogy was epic and far reaching in scope. Will this one be the same? Or will it be more grounded?
I love the DAEDALUS trilogy for being unapologetically epic, four-color adventure on an interplanetary scale. MAJESTIC-12, though, is very different. It’s far more grounded and personal, it’s more shadowy and mysterious. The fantastical elements are more subtle. It’s just a very different beast.
- Any final words or thoughts?
I’m able to take this next step and do these new books because there were a lot of people out there who liked the DAEDALUS trilogy and supported it with their hard-earned dollars. They also were willing to talk about how they liked it with others, online or off. It’s because of all those folks that I can do this, and I’m really grateful to them. And I can’t wait to tell you more when the time comes!
Martinez is the author of the Daedalus trilogy, a multi-genre epic that marries Napoleonic Era naval adventure with science fiction and fantasy. His debut, The Daedalus Incident, was named one of the top five SF/F novels of the year by Library Journal. Publishers Weekly gave The Venusian Gambit, the final book of the series, a starred review and said Martinez “seamlessly blends popular elements from science fiction and fantasy, producing a work that raises the bar for both.”
Follow Mike Martinez on Twitter.