Ask Dayton 61 – Vanguard’s Origin Story
This is something Christine Thompson asked during her recent interview with the G and T Show:
“Vanguard is an excellent series. I like it a lot. When I read the first one, I said this is like Trek, but it’s not. That’s really interesting. I wonder how he got something like that cleared. What made them take a chance to on something that didn’t involve any of the major series but turned out that awesome?”
So, what’s up with that?
Isn’t it amazing what you can accomplish when you hold in your possession embarrassing photos depicting film studio execs engaging in unseemly acts with pandas?
I need to clarify a few things, not only for Christine but also anyone who’s new to the show and perhaps isn’t aware of the various behind-the-scenes shenanigans involved in the development and writing of the Star Trek: Vanguard novel series. First, I had nothing to do with convincing CBS to approve the series. Vanguard was the brainchild of Marco Palmieri, at the time one of the editors of Star Trek fiction for Pocket Books, and author David Mack.
It was these two fine gents who created the series concept, its cast of characters, and the overall direction which would drive the core storyline over the course of what at the time as an undetermined number of books. They are the ones who took this proposal to our benevolent masters at CBS, who in turn saw that this was Good Stuff, similar to yet distinct from other “spin-off” series featuring original ships and crews like Peter David’s Star Trek: New Frontier or Keith DeCandido’s Star Trek: Klingon Empire. Confident that such a spin-off could work in the era of the original Star Trek TV series, CBS gave its sincere, heartfelt, and corporate-sanctioned “Okie Dokey.”
Then, in a fit of joint insanity they regret to this day, Marco and Dave saw fit very early on to include me and Kevin as potential contributors to the series.
Even before Dave’s inaugural Vanguard novel, Harbinger, was published, Kevin and I were getting up to speed. We read the series bible Dave had written, along with his manuscript for the first book as we worked on an outline for what would be the second book. It’s worth noting that at this point in time, Marco’s plan was for multiple writers to contribute to the series, just as was being done with the “regular” fiction lines and spin-off series like the Corps of Engineers and Titan. It wasn’t until the second and third books, our Summon the Thunder and Dave’s Reap the Whirlwind, that the decision was made to keep Vanguard as a sort of “one-two punch” approach, with Dave alternating writing duties from book to book with me and Kevin. And that’s how it went for the remainder of the series.
Damn, was that an ass-load of fun.
We’ve told people before about how the three of us, along with Marco and later Margaret Clark, would get together to plan how to push the series forward. Those brainstorming sessions were delightfully mischievous and even a bit evil; a tradition at each summer’s Shore Leave convention, when we’d sneak off for Saturday night dinner in order to scheme the next set of plot twists for each successive book. That was almost as much fun as writing the books themselves.
When Dave, Kevin, and I finally decided that it was the right time to bring the series to a proper conclusion, we actually had to convince first our editors and then the folks at CBS that this was “the right move.” They had become fans of the series, as well, and making our case was a hard sell. In fact, you have them and our editor to thank for Declassified, the collection of four novellas which preceded the series’ two-part conclusion. That was their price for letting us end the series on our terms and go out on what we felt was a high note, rather than because of low sales or a change in editorial vision.
Now that Vanguard is over, we frequently get asked if the three of us might come together at some point to work in similar fashion on some new project, be it a new Star Trek series or something else entirely. All I’m going to say at this point is that the topic has been discussed—at length. Nothing’s definite, but you just never know. Stay tuned.
As for Christine’s thoughts about Vanguard being so awesome? I’m obviously quite biased, though I tend to force myself not to buy too much into any hype or praise sent my way by appreciative readers and fans. That said, I do tend to agree with this sentiment whenever folks tell me how much they’ve enjoyed the books. Vanguard was and remains something very special to me; a true highlight of my so-called writing career, and I’m proud and privileged to have been a part of it.
Besides, T’Prynn and Anna Sandesjo? SMOKING. HOT.
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But, wait. There’s more.
He is the co-owner of Busy Little Beaver Productions and is the producer and co-host for G & T Show and Gates of Sto’vo’kor. He’s directed voice actors, and produced and edited audio podcasts and dramas because he doesn’t have the face for video. He plays well with others and is always on the look out for the next project, the next thing, the next next. If he wasn’t working on something with a half dozen other projects waiting in the wings, somebody please check to make sure he’s still breathing.
During the day, he’s a mild-mannered computer repair man who dabbles in web design in his small, rural, Central California community. He lives with his lovingly dysfunctional family and loyal canine companion and spends most of his time in the closet concocting some hair-brained scheme or another. He’s got an unhealthy obsession with Lego video games, Klingons, and Star Trek Online that borders on the neurotic.
Despite all this, he still finds the time to write the words. Find out what he's doing here.
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