The Ghost Brigades proves that his awesome 2005 debut, Old Man’s War, was no fluke… It’s hard to not like a story when it’s obvious in the writing that the author is having so much fun with it.
It’s true that I had fun writing this one; I like making things up and sitting there and wondering what the hell I’m going to have my characters next. I would note, though, that any one particular day during the writing, I might not appear to be having a whole lot of fun, usually conciding with days when I really am wondering what the hell I’m going to have my characters do next. I honestly do make these books up as I go along (I’m not much for outlining), so sometimes I’m just as surprised as anyone about what happens next.
In The Ghost Brigades, for example, there is a character who I had intended to be in only one scene, but as I was writing the scene I saw that I could use him later in the book to resolve a later issue. And in writing that scene I realized he would be useful in other places, too. The character went from a truly minor player to one who I would say is the moral heart of the book, and is (in my opinion) one of the better characters I’ve written. So this writing style has its benefits, as long as you can handle the moments of blind panic that occur when it’s clear you have no clue what you’re doing.
As an aside, the review asks if I had a particular Firefly/Serenity character in mind while I was writing one of the minor characters in the book. The answer is no; when I first started writing the character I hadn’t seen either. I think both characters are offshoots of a certain archetypal character. i.e., the obnoxious man of action who is useful to have around in a pinch. Hey, archetypes work.