Fractured Command Book Launch

Last night I officially launched my second novel, Fractured Command, the second book in the Cassi Requin series. We had a meet and greet, a reading, author Q&A, and of course… time book signing! The event had a great turn out… standing room only for the reading! I’m so grateful for everyone who came out and who has supported me. The event was a great success.

Author Charles James and the book Fractured Command (or First Command) at Analog Books.
Hugo, the bookstore cat, offered a “two paws up” endorsement just as I was about to start my reading. I have a feline fan!

The author Question and Answer session was particularly fun for me. Here are a few responses from memory.

What Were the Challenges of Writing a Second Book?

Fractured Command was more challenging to write than First Command. As I understand it, second novels usually are. The series’ protagonist, Cassi Requin, starts out as a cadet in the first book, but now, the cadets have graduated. They are out working in the Alliance Expeditionary Fleet. Cassi has become an engineering officer. When the first book ended, the core characters scattered, and so in the second book we see them re-uniting.

So How Did You Bring Your Characters Back Together?

The book open with a pirate attack on a freighter on which Cassi’s best friend Emica is serving as a flight control officer. When Emica is taken prisoner, Cassi must get her back. To do that, she brings together her team, the survivors from that time on the alien planet.

Why the Black Hole on the Cover?

One of the prominent features of the Fractured Command setting is a black hole, one of the great enigmas of space, an object with gravity so strong, not even light can escape it. While Cassi and her crew don’t actually cross over the event horizon, they get trapped in accretion disk (an asteroid field of old planets grinding each other into pieces) around it. Their spacecraft is horribly damaged, which sets the scene for Cassi to solve ever-escalating problems as one of the surviving engineers.

You Recently Gave a Talk on ChatGPT and AI. Did You Use AI to Write Fractured Command?

No. Not at all.

For what it’s worth, I’m not personally against authors using AI as a tool, any more than I am against using writing prompts or name generators. I think it’s totally acceptable to use AI to help with brainstorming, developing a coherent storyline or character arc, overcome writer’s block, general inspiration, etc. Where I draw the line is using the AI for complete production of a story. There’s still an element of human experience in stories that, while it may be emulated well at some point, won’t ever be true. The human experience is a big part of what we read stories for.

When Can We Expect The Next Book?

These books are about 80,000 words long and I have about 50,000 words of a first draft, with a working title of Lost Command (thanks NaNoWriMo). They’re going to a need a lot of editing though, but I hope to release the third book in the series next year.