Author has written 12 stories for Mass Effect, Elder Scroll series, and Dragon Age.
Husband, father, freethinker, skeptic, philosophical theist, hawkish liberal, pragmatist, absolutist of liberty, educator, bureaucrat, white-hat hacker, amateur historian, freelance writer, would-be novelist, dabbler in digital art, Freemason, occasional bingo caller.
I've written, co-authored, or edited about twenty books for the tabletop role-playing-game industry (although I've been out of that business since about 2006). I have also written an original novel but it just isn't working to my satisfaction . . . I can't see a mainstream publisher buying it and it probably wouldn't do well if I self-published it. I have ideas for several more novels, but if I can't get the first one going there's no point in agonizing over the rest. I need to work on some of my literary skills.
Hence, fan-fiction. I really need to be getting my original fiction unstuck and out where people can see it, but for now I'm having a lot of fun, learning a few new facets of the novelist's craft, and building an audience for my prose.
Current Status (as of 2 July 2018): Having finished Mirror, I think I'm going to take a break for a while. My last long story, The Voice of Silence, just wasn't clicking with me or with readers. I did get a few positive comments, but views and reviews were both way down from the level I've seen in the past. Whether that's because it wasn't up to my usual standard, it was an entirely original plotline, or because reader engagement is down across the board on this site, I can't tell. Probably a little of all three. Still made it hard to muster the motivation to continue work on that piece in particular, when I have three or four other projects under way at any given time.
I've taken The Voice of Silence down for the time being, since I cannot abide leaving a stump of a novel in place when I'm never likely to finish it. Might at some point rework the material I have to serve as a stand-alone novelette - that probably won't require more than a final chapter and a little rewriting of the existing material.
Still need to work on an Absolutely Final Draft editing pass for my Mass Effect series. No significant changes to plot, just a round of copy-editing. Way too many minor spelling and sentence-structure bugs left in the text.
The Memoirs Series
This is my main continuity: four complete novels, one novella, and four short stories at present. More may be forthcoming at some point, although to be honest I think I've told the story I needed to tell here, and I have to admit that the Andromeda game didn't give me much inspiration to continue.
The Memoirs series retells the Mass Effect story - but most of the story is told from the point of view of Liara T'Soni, writing about her experiences from a time centuries after the end of the Reaper War. Liara as a mature asari matron is looking back on her youthful adventures with the famous Commander Shepard, remembering their triumphs, their tragedies, and their love affair.
The following stories are in the series, in chronological order. All of them are complete.
Memoirs itself details the events of the war against Saren Arterius and the geth. Liara meets Shepard, fights at his side, helps him to discover the truth about the Reapers, and eventually helps him defeat Saren and Sovereign. Along the way she discovers romantic love for the first time in her life, beginning her doomed affair with the human hero. She also lays the groundwork for her eventual transformation from obscure, reclusive scientist into one of the galaxy's great powers.
Memoirs: The Illium Years picks up a few days after the destruction of the first Normandy and the loss of Commander Shepard. For two years Liara works independently, building up her position as a powerful information broker. Then the Collectors begin a campaign against the civilized galaxy on behalf of their Reaper masters, and Liara pits everything she has against them . . . aided by the sudden return of Commander Shepard.
Memoirs: The Reaper War begins a few weeks before the Reapers attack Earth. Liara and Shepard are two of the most dangerous people in the galaxy, finally together as a married couple and as comrades-in-arms. Yet they are up against the most devastating threat in all galactic history: the Reapers themselves. The war that follows will test them both to their absolute limits, and they may find that victory carries a cost too painful to bear.
The Spectre and the Doorman is a short story set during the Reaper War. Ash Williams is stuck on the Citadel after being injured on Mars at the beginning of the war. She's been made the second human Spectre, and that's great, but sitting on the light-duty list is boring. Until she decides to take a chance on a friend who might turn out to be more than that. A piece of fluff written mostly for a forum contest.
Broken Things is a short story, set about four years after the end of the Reaper War, during the chaotic period of immediate recovery. Liara and Miranda are called to an isolated house in the Thessian wilderness, and what they learn there changes them both.
The Silk Revolution is a novella. Over a decade after the Reaper War, Miranda Lawson comes to Thessia to help Liara and her friends deal with an outbreak of civil unrest in the Republic of Armali. Along the way, Miranda and Liara become rather more than mere friends and colleagues. (Incidentally, this story was something of an experiment: the entire plot takes place without a single male character having any spoken lines or plot-significant involvement. I wondered if I could write a story like that, full of nothing but tough, competent female characters, and not have any of my readers notice! Apparently it worked. Not to mention, presumably, this is the one story I've ever written that passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors.)
Confessions is a short story, set forty years after the end of the Reaper War, during the period of galactic reconstruction. Liara visits her father Aethyta for the last time, but finds that the dying Matriarch has one last confession to make and one last piece of good advice to offer before she departs.
Encounter in Darkness is a short story, set about seventy years after the end of the Reaper War, after the foundation of a new galactic polity to replace the old Citadel Alliance and its Council. While traveling from Illium back to Thessia, Liara meets a very unexpected admirer and spends a rather tense hour in his company.
All the Western Stars is a novel set four hundred years after the end of the Reaper War. Liara had an illustrious career in diplomacy and politics, but now she is long since retired. Then a new threat arises to disturb the galaxy's peace, and she finds herself called on to fight once more. But what role will the Reapers - and the long-departed Shepard - have to play in this new conflict?
The Queen of Close Calls is a set of five Alternate Universe drabbles, based on events in the main Memoirs continuity. The format is "four things that didn't happen to Liara T'Soni, and one that did." Liara has had a lot of close calls in her career, apparently, and if some of them happen differently, the resulting universes turn out to be very dark indeed. Written for a forum contest.
This series started almost as an experiment, but over time I've evolved several objectives for it:
1) Fulfill the promise of Liara's character. I think Liara is a very engaging and interesting personality, fully capable of standing as the protagonist of her own story. Even in the games, it's clear that she's a very important figure - Commander Shepard may be the protagonist, but he can't win without Liara's support. Yet what we see of her in the games is often rather two-dimensional. I can understand why. That's Commander Shepard's story, Liara is just one supporting character among many, and the player may well choose a different character to receive the focus of Shepard's attention. In a literary form, though, we can give Liara a bit more of her due.
2) Give Shepard and Liara a happy ending. In the games, any romantic relationship between Shepard and Liara is pretty much doomed to a tragic ending. Most conclusions of Mass Effect 3 leave them (apparently) permanently separated. Like many fans of the game, that left me badly dissatisfied - so by the Goddess, in my series they're going to get the resolution they deserve. Which is not to say, of course, that it's going to be easy for them to get there, or that it will happen in a way most of us might expact. Those little blue children will have to wait for the fourth novel in the series.
3) Add a bit more science and "big ideas" content to the Mass Effect universe. I'm a "hard science fiction" author at heart, and while Mass Effect is actually much better than most computer games about taking science and world-building seriously, there's always room for improvement. Science fiction is a literature of ideas, and I'm much happier when the characters in an SF story are dealing with big ideas and their consequences.
The Memoirs series is currently in the process of being cross-posted to other sites as well, including (for now) An Archive of Our Own and DeviantArt. I'm also starting to dabble in fan-art, and have posted a number of images of varying quality to DeviantArt, inspired by my fiction. Feel free to check out my work there under the account name Sharrukin-of-Akkad.
A few words about from-the-game assumptions:
My Shepard is a Colonist and War Hero, who behaves as a Paragon the vast majority of the time (although there are a few exceptions). As far as physical appearance is concerned, he's the default male based on Mark Vanderloo.
I am not assuming any of the three (or four) canonical endings for Mass Effect 3. To be brutally honest, despite my general respect and praise for the Bioware writing teams, I am not at all impressed with the writing that went into the canonical endings (although I will admit the Extended Cut DLC did improve things quite a bit). As you read any of the Memoirs stories that occur after the end of the Reaper War, please don't assume that the Red, Blue, or Green Space Magic occurred exactly as they did in the game. After the Battle of Earth this continuity perforce goes off in its own direction. Presumably the conclusion of Memoirs: The Reaper War makes most of this clear - yes, Control with a generous helping of Synthesis in the mix, but all of it rewritten to make more dramatic and scientific sense. At least to me.
In general, I like to stick close to canon - writing these stories from a point of view other than Shepard's is usually enough to give me a fresh perspective. However, if I see ways to improve on the canon plot, or if the canon plot just flat-out doesn't make any sense, I will get out the red pen and start rewriting.
I should point out that I don't regard any of this work as transcending the canon plotlines from the games, except in a very limited sense. Writing for a computer game is a completely different art form than writing literary fiction, even if it's more or less the same story in both cases. The game form imposes a lot of constraints on the writer, and can make it very difficult to produce a complex plot that is well explained and makes sense every step of the way. In the novel form we can do better because it's easier to construct and support a coherent plot. As I play with the elements Bioware's writers created for us, I cannot but acknowledge my profound debt to their work.
This piece of Dragon Age fiction started out as a one-chapter short story, but as soon as I got into that one chapter I realized there was a whole novella, or even a short novel, hiding behind it. It's primarily the love story of a male Human Mage Warden and Morrigan, the Witch of the Wilds. It's written in third person, with the viewpoint usually alternating between the two lead characters, demonstrating how similar the two of them are and how they change one another in the course of the Fifth Blight. Complete.
The Smith's Tale
This story is set in the Elder Scrolls universe, and represents an effort to try out some new writing techniques - short vignettes, scraps of dialogue, action scenes, vivid description, all written in third person rather than the first-person form I've normally used. Just stretching my authorial muscles a little. This story appears to be complete at novella length for now, although I may come back to Tamriel at some point.
Generally I appreciate reviews no matter the source, and I'll accept reviews even if they're negative or show only a superficial reading of the story. However, I do prefer that reviews be signed, so that I can see who they're actually from and possibly respond with a PM. I reserve the right to delete unsigned reviews. If you want to guarantee that your review gets posted, sign in and post it under your account.
First off, I must acknowledge my debt to alliedforces74, as one of the few other authors working on a major piece of fiction with a Male Shepard-Liara pairing. Her novel-in-progress, Legacy, is a strong and capably written look at Shepard, using the same "memoirs" premise that I'm applying for Liara. Very highly recommended. She's also one of my more faithful readers and reviewers, and I very much appreciate her support. Not to mention that she has graciously permitted me to borrow a few background details for my take on Shepard's character!
There's also the talented Russian artist who goes by the username of Sp1ash on DeviantArt. His fan-art piece, "The Broker," fits my image of Liara during the events of Memoirs: The Illium Years almost perfectly. I got his permission to incorporate it into the cover image for the novel, but you should go and appreciate the original piece in all its glory.
Likewise, the Ukrainian artist LuckyFK has been cranking out a lot of superb paintings on Mass Effect themes, and (with his permission) I've used his piece "Sunset" for the cover of All the Western Stars. Go and check out the rest of his very extensive, very nicely done gallery.
I've accumulated a number of very supportive readers and reviewers over the past few years - possibly too many for me to acknowledge all at once. Particular thanks go to Bhoddisatva, CyanB, DarthCruciare, Desert Sunrise, DracolDuran79, DrLucienSanchez, eriskbo, FasterGhost, hochrami, Janizary, jay8008, Lokken.8, MizDirected, Phygmalion, Quathis, theherocomplex, w00tl00ps, and Ygrain33. All of them have devoted many hours to reading my stories, often contributing useful critique or story ideas along the way. They, and all the many others who have taken the time to read, review, and follow my work, have my gratitude and respect.
Last updated 2 July 2018.