[“Kane Looks Back” is a series of posts where my editor, Kane Gilmour, will focus on some of my past novels that you might not have discovered yet. Now read on… –Jeremy]
And then there was Deep Blue. So, I was working with Jeremy occasionally, but I’d been in contact with him on e-mail probably daily for a year or two by then. I’d edited TORMENT and the first LAST HUNTER book. I’d also finished my first novel, RESURRECT, and Jeremy had read it and blurbed it for me. I suggested to Jeremy early on during the Chesspocalypse editing and releases that he do a sixth book—one that focused on the team’s mysterious handler, Tom Duncan, the former President of the United States. The man was a former Ranger, and had set up the Chess Team prior to PULSE, and at the end of THRESHOLD he pulled the team away from the military (and pulled a whole lot more resources along with them) and was setting up his own little fiefdom in a captured bad guy base in New Hampshire. I, for one, was fascinated by this character, and I wanted more back story about him. I nagged Jeremy that he should do a Deep Blue novella, and what was more, I wanted him to do it on his own, without a co-author. But Jeremy, who was already doing the co-writing work with a bunch of other authors, putting the final tweaks on edits for SECONDWORLD, was writing the LAST HUNTER books, and who was already starting to write the story that would become ISLAND 731…well, Jeremy was understandably swamped. He said: “Why don’t you write it?”
I was overwhelmed with gratitude, and I was honored. I knew I could write, and Jeremy knew it too, because he’d read my first book—but that book had not even been released yet. I’d published nothing at that point. So, I was amazed at the faith he’d put in me, and I wanted to blow the doors off with my effort. I don’t remember if I was late on that project. (I’ve been late on every other book collaboration with Jeremy so far, I think, and he’s been very tolerant with me.) I do remember how long it took me to write the first draft of the novella, though. Two weeks. Pounding the keys every day. Pawing through my hardcovers of the first three books repeatedly for research. Mapping and diagramming things, so I could keep locations consistent. Looking up all kinds of nonsense on the internet that probably got me on all manner of watchlists. In the end, Jeremy needed to change a few character things, where I’d gotten lost in the story and had a character acting well out of character. But overall, he liked it. I was thrilled. And so, unlikely as it was, my first novel came out, and then my first novella, CALLSIGN: DEEP BLUE, came out the very next day!
So, what happened in the Deep Blue novella? We finally get to see Deep Blue on his own. Trapped in a facility he was setting up for the team, but they are all off having their own adventures in the Chesspocalypse. Blue has a few helpers on hand with him—including Anna Beck, who has returned from the end of CALLSIGN: KNIGHT and taken a new job with Blue’s new “Endgame” organization. With a paramilitary strike team inside the facility, and Blue’s security team trapped outside of it, the stage is set. But deep in the bowels of the former enemy base, mutated and irradiated creatures are about to attack. The story was packed with as much action, mayhem, and death as we could manage, even prompting one reviewer to complain about the high casualty count and wondering about our blood lust. I’m prouder of the fact that I made Jeremy squeamish with the murder vents, and he said something like “Holy crap. Now I know what it’s like for my readers when I do this sort of thing to them.” Mission accomplished. And the successful reactions to the Deep Blue book led to me becoming co-author with Jeremy on the next full-length Chess Team novel.
Callsign: Deep Blue (2011) is available in paperback and as an e-book. The story is also available as an audiobook, narrated by Jeffrey Kafer. You can also purchase the e-book as a part of the Callsign: Doubleshot collection, which also includes the Knight novella.