Over in another thread, Mark Delagasse brought up something which is worth making more of and I need to start thinking about this ahead of time, so here we go in my usual rambling style…
Aneka Jansen. The first Aneka book, The Steel Beneath The Skin, holds a place in my heart for the very simple reason that it was my first really successful novel. Seven books later, however, Aneka is getting hard to write for and her story is going to come to an end (at least as far as me being able to write for her) in the foreseeable future. I need something to take her place.
I originally thought that Fox Meridian was going to be the new Aneka, and for some people I suspect she fits the bill. However, I’m guessing she’s not for everyone. Mark, for example, likes Aneka, but would prefer a bit less ‘skin,’ so I’d have thought Fox would work, but he didn’t mention her. Fox is pretty much a near-future setting while Aneka pushes more into space opera. Fox is kind of low-key while Aneka is based around the big stuff. Lots to consider and not so much idea what people are looking for.
So, if I’m looking for a new universe to take up the torch when Aneka is sent off to a pleasant retirement, what should I be aiming at? What is it that attracted people to Aneka in the first place? Let’s see if I can structure this a little…
- Subgenre. More or less ultra-tech (scientifically implausible stuff like force fields, anti-gravity, artificial gravity, FTL), bigger or smaller themes. More space opera or more hard SF?
- The kick-ass heroine. I have had comments that it was nice to see a guy on the protagonist list in Vampire’s Kiss, so while I am likely to have a female lead, I am not averse to developing a strong male character too. What about Aneka and her friends did people like?
- Did people like the specific setting? If so, what about it?
- This has to be mentioned: sex. There’s a lot of sex in the Aneka books. I’ve been reducing it in more recent stuff (not entirely intentionally, it just works that way sometimes). Tone it down? Keep it the same? All-out porn?
- The last element I can think of here is the connectivity to our world. Aneka’s story starts off with no one even knowing where Earth is. There’s no sense of connected history from us, here, now, to the world of the stories. Stuff gets filled in later, but this is an entirely new universe when we start (like Dune or Star Wars rather than Star Trek). Is that good, bad, or really not an issue? Is the ‘discovering a new universe’ a factor in the enjoyment of the books?
Okay… Well, your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. The more the merrier and I’ll try to coalesce the undoubtedly huge range of answers into something I can work with. This should be interesting… (Just like the curse.)