Love space opera? Looking for your next favorite binge-worthy series? You’re in luck!
Today I have an interview with Eric Warren, author of the post-apocalyptic Quantum Gate Series and the Infinity’s End Saga, a 9-book space opera series.
In the interview, I pick his brain about writing space opera, where he gets his ideas, and how much we were both influenced by Star Trek growing up. (Nerd high fives!)
If you’re a space opera fan, I highly recommend picking up the Infinity’s End series. Eric just released book 5, and the rest of the books are hot on its heels.
So kick back and get ready to binge a fantastic series!
He needs a payday. He’ll settle for payback.
Betrayed and left to rot on the edges of the galaxy, Caspian Robeaux is deep in debt and stuck flying courier missions in an old rustbucket he can barely keep afloat. His only friends are a dishonest robot and a bottle of booze.
It’s a far cry from his once-promising military career, but Cas is content to be left alone.
Things start to look up, though, when a stranger arrives and offers a lucrative job that Cas can’t refuse, with a payday big enough to change his fortunes permanently.
But nothing in his life is ever that simple, and for a man trying to buy his way out of debt, the price of redemption might be too steep.
Get Caspian’s Fortune (Infinity’s End Book 1) here.
Interview with Eric Warren
Start by telling me about Infinity’s End. What made you get into Space Opera?
I’ve always been a Space Opera fan. I got into Star Trek pretty young and I was always super interested in that world. I made my parents stay up at night so I could watch it.
When it came to writing, I knew I wanted to write a space opera in that vein. I wanted to create my own world, so that’s what I did with Infinity’s End. I basically created a Star Trek-like universe where it’s not as utopian — because I always thought of the utopias in Star Trek as aspirational, but I didn’t think they were realistic. I don’t really feel like we as the human race will ever get to that point.
But I thought, what would it look like if that universe was more grounded in reality? That’s where the idea came from.
My family are big Star Trek nerds. It’s what we watched at dinner every night when I was a kid.
Your family watched it with you? I wish I’d had that. My dad always wanted to watch football, and I didn’t care about it. I’d rather watch Star Trek please!
Where did the nut of the story come from? Did you start with the plot? The characters?
I typically start with characters. In this instance, I felt like the plot and the characters needed to complement each other heavily. I wanted a character who found himself in a difficult position based on the universe around him.
In this story, the catalyst is that this character is basically an idealist. He’s part of this organization, the Coalition, which he feels is a positive force for change in the universe. Then he gets an order that is contrary to all that. The order is not morally right, and what he thinks of as Coalition doctrine is being refuted by these orders. He either has to obey and compromise his moral integrity, or disobey and maintain his integrity.
He disobeys the orders, then discovers that there’s this dark and seedy underbelly to the Coalition. He feels betrayed.
That’s the jumping-off point of the series, and the first book starts about seven years after that event. He’s actually on the run from the Coalition by the point where we meet him.
The series is nine books long, so I figured I needed a pretty big story to sustain itself through that many books.
What’s been one of your favorite parts of writing this series?
One of my favorite things is drawing star maps for every book. I have a giant master star map that covers an entire section of the galaxy, and each book comes with a smaller section of that map. By the time you get to the end of the series, you have the entire picture.
That’s super cool!
It’s also really stressful, because I had to plan all that out ahead of time, and make sure I knew what I was doing. I can’t change anything, so I might have shot myself in the foot there.
My other favorite thing is coming up with alien races. I’ve come up with probably six or seven that are really interesting and unique that I hadn’t seen before.
How do you go about coming up with the new alien race?
I don’t really have a special process, but I look at different species here on Earth and try to imagine what they would look like if they were the dominant species of another planet.
One species I’ve got is like a crustacean-type creature. They’re hyper-intelligent, but in order to work with humans, they have to wear an apparatus that allows them to interact with all the controls and the buttons and everything. But they’re also highly religious, so they wear all this religious garb. They’re basically metal android things inside robes just walking around — and they all have holographic faces they project to look like they could be human. But really they’re just a crustacean inside.
I don’t know where they came from, but I thought it would be interesting.
What’s been one of the most challenging parts of writing this series?
I try not to be one of those writers who writes every book on a cliffhanger. I want each book to stand on its own and to have its own individual story. It’s been very difficult taking the main character through a journey nine different times.
Within each book I have to have the character grow and change in some way. Instead of having all the change happen at once, I have to pull back and say, no — this change happens here, this other change happens later. And this change will happen way down the road.
At the same time as I’m holding back on character change, I need to continue to make those characters believable. Believable enough that you keep reading, so they’re not just so tortured that you’re like, this is just the author being extra mean to his character.
I started out with one main character, but at this point in the series I’m up to at least two, possibly three. Now I have to take each of those characters through their own personal journey. They all have to mesh, there has to be external and internal conflict in each book, and it has to contribute to the overall arching story. It’s a lot to keep up with.
How do you do that? Do you have lots of spreadsheets? I’m terrible at keeping track of stuff, so I’m always curious what other people do.
I have a master Word document which has character profiles for all the main characters and all the alien lists. Then for each book I have a story breakdown which goes through the self revelations and the needs and desires of the two main characters, their weaknesses in this particular story, the primary opponent, the opponent’s desires, etc. It also tracks the series of revelations that will happen throughout the story, and ultimately the hero’s self-revelation when they realize their mistake and make the change.
I write one of those for each book in the series and I keep them all together, so I can check back and see what happened in earlier books.
It’s funny, because I keep track of a lot of it my mind, which is probably really dangerous. But I can’t remember anything else about my life. My wife will tell me something, and five minutes later it’s gone from my mind. But as long as I remember the story, I’m okay. She can always tell me thing again.
It’s not so funny to her, but to me….
You have a couple of pugs*. Have you written them into your books at all?
I haven’t. Because of the nature of what I’m working on right now, I can’t really use any animals from Earth, because none of it takes place on or near Earth.
And in my first series, it was post-apocalyptic earth. I thought, well, pugs probably wouldn’t survive that. At least mine wouldn’t, because all they can do is eat and sleep all day.
Although I will say, I think I did write some pugs into the second or third book I ever wrote — which I will never publish.
What’s next after the Infinity’s End series?
It’s a nine-book series, and I was originally hoping to be done it by the end of the year. I think I can still do that, since it’s only August now.
What I had originally thought was afterwards I was going to write a short trilogy set in the same universe that tells a different story with different characters, but as part of the same universe and dovetailed into the main story.
Or, I may go a completely other direction. I think I want to stay within space opera, but I may go somewhere outside this universe. I really haven’t decided yet.
Get Caspian’s Fortune (Infinity’s End Book 1) here.
( * And follow Eric on Instagram if you want some adorable pug action.)