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Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Inside the Book | 2 comments

Creating the Undercover Series

undercoverseriesVECTORAs the first books I thought to release out into the world, I’m slightly attached to the Undercover Series. In one way or another, I’ve been working within its created world for the last 12 years. Not only do I know what’s happened to everyone on the page, but I know their backstories and what’s still in store for them. I also know all the rules for the universe in which all these characters live as though I lived there myself, making it a breeze for me to come back to the characters after a long break from writing them and pick up where I left off.

But it occurs to me, y’all don’t have all this inside information. Let’s start to change that, shall we?

Plotting the books

I don’t think I’ve really said this to anyone except my book cover designer and maybe my best friend, but this series is planned for 13 books. Yes, I know exactly where the series is going. I even know how it will end and who will survive until the last page.

No, I won’t tell you.

What I will say is that I’m breaking the Undercover series into four trilogies and one grand finale. There could be a spin-off or prequel short stories, but those planned 13 books are the heart and soul of this tale. While every book in the series can stand alone if necessary, each book in a particular trilogy fits into the theme or the goal for that particular trilogy. I’ll even tell you what the goal of each trilogy is.

  • The first trilogy is all about introducing our main characters and learning a bit about who they are at their cores. Crazy stuff happens and they have to learn to overcome different issues, but this is really where you get the baseline for how you can expect these characters to behave.
  • The second trilogy (aka love trilogy) is where we ratchet up the conflict to levels our favorite characters never thought possible. Relationships are tested. Loved ones die. The impossible quite literally can happen. The first book in this trilogy is also the point at which you’ve met all the characters – in some form – that will play key roles throughout the rest of the series.
  • The third trilogy is where some of the more minor characters step out of the shadows to show us who they really are and why they deserve any of the time they’ve received on the page in previous books. Actually, the first book in this trilogy is one I’m really looking forward to writing because two of my favorite minor characters get some major page time. If you’ve read any of the books and wished that Agent Kyly McShae had more than a few lines here or there, this is going to be a must-read for you.
  • In the fourth and final trilogy, something tragic will happen that will impact all of our characters in serious ways. This is where you might also want to begin to fear for your favorite character’s safety. Like I said, I already know who lives and who dies.
  • And, of course, in the grand finale we’ll find out who gets their happily ever after and who gets a bullet. Think your favorite main character is safe? Y’all, I’m straight up evil, so…fair warning. ;)

Setting the stage

If you’ve read any of the books in there series, there’s been at least one mention of what the traffic’s like in Dallas. That’s not by accident. When you live anywhere in DFW, traffic is a very real obstacle you have to overcome whether you want to go to the grocery store of you’re trying to stop a terrorist from murdering your girlfriend.

With that traffic comes people who whip over into lanes that already have cars in them. If I don’t get cut off at least once each time I drive in rush hour traffic, I’m probably still asleep and haven’t left the house yet. And no matter which part of the metroplex you’re driving in, you’re bound to experience construction on at least one of the roads you have to take, which always seems to surprise people, causing them to violently swerve over into your lane – and nearly your car. Trust me, Jackson isn’t just bitching about the Dallas traffic in most of the books because he likes to complain.

You may notice that the weather is also a major player in the Undercover Series. This is also by design. Truly, you don’t understand flaring tempers and tense situations until you’ve hunted for a serial killer when the mercury is in the triple digits and the air you’re breathing is thick and soupy.

Okay, I’ve never personally hunted for a serial killer, but I have had to run around in that oppressive weather. It doesn’t make for an atmosphere of insight and compassion, I assure you.

Choosing the perspective

I spent probably more time debating how to tell this series than you might guess. Jackson Caldwell was the obvious narrator for AGENTS OF DECEIT, but he wasn’t even supposed to be in THE SHATTERED ALLIANCE when I first started writing it. Once I realized he was chilling in FBI headquarters, I thought long and hard about making him the primary POV character just so that my series would have consistency.

It didn’t work.

Yes, I absolutely could have told the bank robbery investigation story from his perspective and focused more on his strained relationship with Jenna than anything else, but…that wasn’t the story I wanted to tell. You needed to be in Skylar’s head because, frankly, she’s a misunderstood bitch without getting her thoughts and feelings. Devoting a few chapters here and there to her story, her crimes, and her relationship with Parker wasn’t enough to really make them pop off the page.

And you know what? I wanted everyone to root for the bad guys to win in this one, not Jackson. In a way, I wanted Jackson to flex his considerable muscles in the role of antagonist. Well, one of the antagonists, I should say.

So that’s why we live in Skylar Montgomery’s head for the bulk of the second book instead of Jackson’s.

Don’t be surprised if that happens again in later books of the series, especially during that third trilogy where we focus more on minor characters. Sometimes, your favorite character isn’t necessarily the best character to tell the story.

Alrighty, y’all, I’m curious…What questions do you have about the Undercover Series? Unless you want outright spoilers for later books, I’m always happy to provide additional insight into the books.

And in case you were wondering, more background on our sarcastic and sexy agent is planned for future posts. There’s a lot you don’t yet know about Jackson Caldwell.

Image Credit: Farah Evers Designs

© 2014 – 2015, Sydney Katt. All rights reserved.

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  1. LOVED this post! I can’t wait to dig into the rest of the series. I have plans to when and where I’ll be continuing this series. But, I think I’ll begin reading part 2 as soon as my tablet comes back from repair.

    Also, I find the way you planned or thought of things very intriguing. I vote for more about Agent Caldwell in your next post. He’s a sexy and quite charming guy, and I loved the way he interacted on all levels.

    • There’s no rush. The series will always be there when you have time to read more.

      Oh, there will definitely be more about Jackson. He’s too good of a subject not to write about.

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