“The Stars Look Down” is an action-driven tale of espionage in the Taurus Reach. It centers on the recovering alcoholic Cervantes Quinn and his partner (in more ways than one), Bridget McLellan, also known as Bridy Mac. They get sent into Gorn territory to steal some vital intel that Starfleet needs, and the op quickly goes south. After they pull their butts out of the frying pan, they plunge straight into the fire. In other words, exactly what readers have come to expect of a Vanguard story. Its ending serves as a springboard for the next two full-length novels, the first of which is coming this fall, and the second is coming next summer, in 2012.
“Hard News,” is my shot at doing something within the saga that would not have fit elsewhere: a hardboiled investigative reporter story in a first-person narrative. Having worked as a newspaper reporter for 15 years, myself, Tim Pennington speaks to me in ways that other Star Trek characters cannot. I really wanted to get inside his thoughts and portray not only his professional motivations but also his passion for “telling the story.” In regard to its place in the big picture, my hope is that it contains some additional insight into Pennington’s personal journey at a time that I regard as a turning point in his life. I intended to offer some of that insight in the Vanguard novel Open Secrets, as I originally was committed to write that with Dayton. Personal matters I found overwhelming at the time pushed me into stepping—more like jumping—out of the project. That choice and the resulting pressure it placed on my dear friend is something I’ll always regret personally and professionally. Dayton never once let that affect our partnership or our friendship, and for that I’ll always be grateful. Writing “Hard News” and revisiting Pennington in that part of the saga (between Reap the Whirlwind and Open Secrets) is something I have wanted to do for my own sake ever since.
“The Ruins of Noble Men” is a braided narrative: two thematically linked stories told in alternating chapters. The primary story is set in the immediate aftermath of the most recent Vanguard novel, Dave Mack’s Precipice, and it focuses on Dr. Ezekiel Fisher and JAG officer Rana Desai on mission to a mysterious Federation colony. It’s interspersed with flashbacks set nine years earlier aboard the U.S.S. Dauntless, when the ship was commanded by Diego Reyes. “Ruins” is a very character-driven story, and my hope is that it’ll give readers a new appreciation for some of Vanguard’s protagonists as well as members of its supporting cast. It also makes use of characters not seen or mentioned since the earliest novels in the series. I think readers will find that, because these are novellas, the stories in Declassified are more focused and more intimate, illuminating the Vanguard characters in ways we haven’t seen before.
“Almost Tomorrow” is set before the events of the first Vanguard novel. When developing the story, I borrowed an idea from the television series The Shield, of which I’m a big fan. They ran an episode during their second season called “Co-Pilot,” which takes place during a period of time that leads up to the events of the show’s first episode. It’s not a big story that works on its own; you have to be familiar with the characters and storylines that have evolved by this point in the series in order to get the most out of it. I loved the idea of doing something similar with my Declassified story, taking some of the Vanguard characters and plot points and rewinding the clock a bit in order to add some heretofore unseen context and backstory. I got to show certain characters’ motivations and the circumstances that put them where they are when readers first meet them in Harbinger. I also got to plant a few seeds which will be picked up when the series returns with the next two novels.
Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore also revealed their next Trek project (after Vanguard: What Judgments Come) will be a TOS five-year-mission novel titled, That Which Divides, out next summer.