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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Revisiting the Black Planet

It's been over a year and a half since the last Black Planet book was published at Changeling Press. Three years since the first book, Little Dragon went live. We decided to put the three books into a collection, and I meant to write a 7K short story to throw in with the three books. Instead, I decided to delve back into the cyber-punk/sci fi world of Wharf, Hong Kong and Nephris and finish out the series.

It was a lot of fun re-reading those books. After writing Little Dragon, I decided that I needed to lay a bit of groundwork, so Dragon's Blood and Tiger Eyes were actually set about 30 years prior to Rose Lee's story. Now that I'm starting back on the series, we're back in Rose's time and the stories will take place after her return to Earth.

I never really intended to redeem the villain that one reviewer classified as the sleaziest, creepiest villain ever. LOL! How do you fix someone who's so obviously broken as Kitsune Jung? Well, it took some thought, some empathy and some creativity. We all have motivations for the things we do, and Kit isn't alone in this fact. He knows he was a bad boy, and by the time his story opens, all Kit wants is to go home and make peace with Rose Lee. In truth, I didn't intend for him to be a villain, he was modeled after a typical Northern California male; somewhat spoiled and self-centered. I found that after finishing the book, it was clear that I'd have to go back in and rescue Kit. It sort of gnawed away at my conscience, leaving him in such a bad situation.

Developing his heroine was tricky as well. Kit Jung is damaged goods by the time the story opens. His heroine had to be empathetic enough to understand this, but strong enough to stand on her own two feet and sometimes carry Kit. She also had to be enough of a woman to bring out his protective side. In truth, he's not an alpha male. But he's not a wimp; his heroism emerges in ways that surprised me, and almost broke my heart.

Hu Fei is a tough woman, damaged in her own right, and she has successfully survived her own gauntlet. She is the only daughter of Aiden Chen and Annie Tanaka from Dragon's Blood. She's Rose's younger cousin, and all her life, has lived in the shadow of the flamboyant, larger than life Rose Lee. She's a quiet, strong heroine, completely the opposite of her cousin. Where Rose storms into a situation, Hu Fei thinks it through and uses her wits. In Mandarin, her name means "Flying Fox." I think the name suits her, she's got a wry sense of humor and can pull out the moves when necessary.

I didn't realize how much I missed the Lee family until I took out the manuscripts and started revisiting them again. Like the other Black Planet books, this one just floated out of me, so very clear and easy to write. I can't wait to get started on the next book!

Black Planet: the Little Dragon Collection releases at Changeling Press on July 2, Black Planet II: Little Foxes releases July 16, also at Changeling Press.

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