ALL THOSE EXPLOSIONS: Characters

Continuing on from my last post, let’s look at the characters of All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault (to be published by Tor Books on November 7).

The four main characters are all roommates, and are third-year students at the University of Waterloo (my old alma mater). Just for fun, I decided that they’d each be from one of the major departments in the Faculty of Science: Biology, Chemistry, Earth & Environmental Sciences (i.e. Geology and other resources), and Physics & Astronomy. I should note that I’m roughly halfway through a B.Sc. in Geology, although it remains to be seen if I’ll have the time to keep going.

The story is told from the viewpoint of the Geology student, Kim Lam. Kim is very smart and very non-binary, but still working through the fallout of a failed relationship with someone who wanted to be a Darkling more than he wanted to be with Kim. Kim is stuck in emotional quicksand. That slowly begins to change when a lab accident gives Kim and Kim’s roommates superpowers.

One of those roommates is Miranda Neufeld: physicist and amateur opera singer. Another is Shar Chandra, a wizard when it comes to chemistry, cookies, and getting under Kim’s skin. Lastly is Jools Walsh, nominally in biology, but actually majoring in bad decisions.

Why these characters? Well first, I wanted a team of superheroes, and four seemed like a good number. Four people provide lots of scope and combinations, without the group becoming too big to handle. Four people also matched nicely with the science departments…and that’s important because in this setting, superheroes are strongly linked to science (just as Darklings are strongly linked to magic).

Secondly, I wanted characters who were interesting and sympathetic, but very different from each other. Kim is a walled-off introvert; Miranda is high-maintenance and strident; Shar is completely imperturbable; Jools is wild and moderately self-destructive.

Each character has something unique to contribute to the action and ambiance. For example, since this is a superhero book, fighting is inevitable…so someone on the team really ought to know how to kick butt. Making someone a martial arts student was too easy; instead, Jools is a fanatic hockey player (one of the reasons she’s doing so badly in school). The other roommates bring their own strengths to the table, in unexpected but believable ways.

From Day One, I’ve envisioned ALL THOSE EXPLOSIONS as the first book of a series, with each book told from the viewpoint of a different roommate. ALL THOSE EXPLOSIONS is the book where Kim confronts the ghosts of the past. The next book (THEY PROMISED THE GUN WASN’T LOADED) will be from Jools’s point of view. After that comes Miranda, then Shar.

Each book will show the central character dealing with personal issues—win, lose, or draw. Each book will also be written in a different tone of voice, appropriate to the character involved…which is a lot of fun for me, and I hope for readers too.

ALL THOSE EXPLOSIONS: What It’s About

My next book ALL THOSE EXPLOSIONS WERE SOMEONE ELSE’S FAULT comes out from Tor Books on November 7, so it’s high time I talked about it. I’ll be doing a number of blog posts over the next few weeks; feel free to ask questions as we go along.

But first things first: what is the book about?

Superheroes. And vampires/werewolves/demons.

Here’s the set-up. In 1982, monsters all over the world realize they’ve been doing it wrong. Why hide in the shadows when you’ve got a supremely marketable asset? So they announce that for ten million dollars, they’ll convert you into the monster of your choice. You’ll get magical powers, immunity to disease and aging, plus a bunch of other benefits.

By the dawn of the 21st century, almost all the rich and powerful people in the world have paid to become Darklings. They’re careful not to behave too outrageously—they don’t want to provoke a serious uprising—but they run every government and major corporation, without anyone powerful enough to stop them.

Then superheroes show up: everyday joes who just happen to get bitten by a radioactive spider, fall in a vat of weird chemicals, or touch a strangely glowing meteor. Suddenly, randos off the street have just as much superhuman power as wealthy Darklings do. Super “commoners” quickly become a counterbalance to Dark overreach.

So that’s the set-up: the rich 1% are Darklings, the 99% are superheroes (universally called Sparks). As you can imagine, fisticuffs and a lot of explosions ensue.

Next time, I’ll talk about the book’s protagonists and maybe a bit about the plot.