Gerald Brandt: Toeing the Line Between Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Science fiction author Gerald Brandt explains how this new series explores the genre boundary and how he came to find his newest book's focus.
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Gerald Brandt is the author of the cyberpunk San Angeles sci-fi trilogy: The Courier, The Operative, and The Rebel. The first of the trilogy was a finalist for the Aurora Award for Best Novel. His short story Storm appeared in the 2013 Prix Aurora Award-winning anthology Blood & Water. By day, he's an IT professional and coding guru. In his limited spare time, he enjoys riding his motorcycle, rock climbing, camping, and spending time with his family.

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In this post, Brandt explains how this new series explores the genre boundary, finding a book's focus, and more!

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Name: Gerald Brandt
Literary agent: Sara Megibow of KT Literary
Title: Threader Origins - Book One of the Quantum Empirica
Publisher: DAW Books
Release date: January 12, 2021
Genre: Science Fiction
Previous titles: The San Angeles Series (The Courier, The Operative, and The Rebel)
Elevator pitch for the book: Threader Origins is an alternate world science fantasy about a young man whose ability to manipulate quantum strings make him the unwilling hero of a war.

THREADER ORIGINS

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What prompted you to write this book?

When I sold my first book—The Courier—to Sheila Gilbert at DAW Books, she only bought the first in what was to be a three-book series. Unsure of whether she would buy the other two books, I went back to my notes for other novel ideas. I remembered talking to her about what’s become Threader Origins, and her reaction to the ideas I presented. Despite her doubts, I knew I had a great protagonist and a plausible world, so I sat down and wrote it.

What I didn’t do when I proposed the book was describe the protagonist’s journey, because I didn’t really know what it was yet. When I finally realized that the story was about being alone, dealing with guilt and remorse, and realizing that life isn’t a journey that should be done by yourself, I sat down and did a rewrite.

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? 

I think the original idea can be traced back to 2012. Looking in the folders on my computer, I created a folder for what turned into Threader Origins and filled it with ideas and preliminary research. I was writing a different novel at the time and left those notes alone until 2014 when I finished the first draft at 75,000 words. The next couple of years were spent writing the contracted sequels to The Courier, but when they were done, I pulled those 75,000 words out and rewrote them. That would have been 2017. I sold the completed novel to DAW Books in late 2018, went through a couple of rounds of edits with my editor, and wrote the second book in the series, and started the third one. Threader Origins will be released this January. So, eight years, give or take a few months.

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Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title? 

I’d like to say no, this being my fourth novel to enter the world, but that would be wrong.

For the publishing side, the time from signing the contract to when the book hit the shelves. For my first book, that period of time was maybe a year. Threader Origins is three months past the two-year mark. The nice thing is I was able to hand in book two and make backward changes to book one to accommodate some new ideas.

Another surprise, for me anyway, not my editor, was that the novel turned out to be science fiction. I originally wrote it as a fantasy, but as I dove deeper into the world of quantum theory and strings, the story morphed into what I would call science fantasy. In hindsight, what else could have happened?

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book? 

I have a fairly solid process for writing that includes many, many Post-It notes and a 4x8 foot whiteboard, spreadsheets, and revision passes. But it seems that every book has to have it’s own little changes to that process. There wasn’t anything major for Threader Origins. The second book in the series required a complete change of the layout of my office, for some strange reason, and book three has been a difficult write with Covid and all the other things (mental and physical) that brought to the game.

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What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

First and foremost, I hope they are entertained; that they laugh and cry at all the right places. Beyond that, maybe if they realize how fragile our world—our civilization—truly is, and how our personal relationships affect our view of the world, I’d be pleased.

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If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?

This is a lesson that I thought I had learned and put into practice, but the last year filled with a pandemic and politics and other changes, I realize that perhaps I hadn’t. The lesson is, despite what is going on, put your butt into the chair and get the words down. They can be garbage or gold, but either way, you can’t revise words you don’t have.

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