I loved THE LIVES OF TAO and am so excited for the release of THE DEATHS OF TAO, so it’s my pleasure to welcome Wesley Chu back to the blog, who was lovely enough to endure my interrogation, er, questions about the new book.
So…THE DEATHS OF TAO!! I know a lot of folks have been looking forward to this sequel (including me) and are eager to get a taste of what’s in store for our hero! Care to dish?
I know, right! What kind of crazy cake world is this?
Roen’s back, so yes, if you haven’t read The Lives of Tao, minor spoiler. He lives. In The Deaths of Tao, he might not be so lucky. Things have gone downhill for the Prophus since the events of the first book. They are getting their butt kicked on every front and are in danger of losing the war. Roen and Jill (she survives the first book too) are separated and are desperately trying to salvage their fragile relationship as well as save the Prophus from total capitulation.
The Genjix have a new leader, Enzo, an Adonis Vessel bred and raised from their eugenics Hatchery program. He is not only is brilliant and ruthless, but makes Dexter the serial killer look like a sane pacifist.
Oh yeah, and they have a new plan in the works. It might just kill off every living being on the planet, but they’re okay with that.
How do you think Roen has grown the most since THE LIVES OF TAO?
Well, he’s got a mighty fine jab right hook combination now and is now very experienced at not getting his butt kicked as much. The years have taken a mental and physical toll on him though. A guy can only get punched in the face so many times before he starts getting little dour. He’s hardened, bitter, and is much more pessimistic, which is understandable when your team constantly is on the losing end of a two sided war.
He’s also a family man now too, albeit that front isn’t going very well either. Roen and Jill have a child but are currently separated. They’re struggling to balance their relationship, take care of their kid Cameron, and stay one step ahead of the Genjix.
Why do you think readers will root for Roen?
Roen’s a different beast now than he was in Lives, but he’s still the geeky lovable Roen, just with more experience and a higher body count. He still faces many of the same challenges that the rest of us deal with, like how to keep his family together, how to sort his finances, and how to not get assassinated. You know, normal stuff.
And of course Tao’s still there as well though their relationship has changed. Before, Tao was Mr. Miyagi to Roens’ Daniel-san. Now, they’re a team, partners that work together to achieve their goals. They’re still each other’s best friends and their fun dynamic is still there. Tao’s still snarky and Roen still says a lot of dumb shit.
What have you enjoyed most about writing the series?
I love seeing Roen’s growth and how, for better or worse, he’s changed as a person. At first, I wondered if I should write more of the same and retell a similar journey that people who enjoyed The Lives of Tao can experience again. You know, toss in more training and turn him from a regular agent to super James Bond agent.
Instead, I smacked him around, took away everything he ever loved, and made his life a living hell. I spent much of the story in Lives training him to be an agent. In Deaths, I force him use these acquired skills to accomplish his goals. I like to put it in World of Warcraft terms. I leveled him up to max level in Lives, I took him raiding in Deaths.
What’s one of the most awesome things about being a published author?
The MOST awesome thing about being an author is the feedback from the readers and the writing community. It’s been such a blessing to hang out with all these people who share the same passion for books and storytelling. A few years ago, I was just this transient dude who migrated from café to café abusing bottomless cup of coffee policies. Now I’m attending conventions and meeting so many fantastic readers, bloggers, and authors. It’s been by far the most gratifying experience of my life.
That and I get a bunch of free books. Booyah!
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
I could go with the generic but honest “keep writing and never give up!” rah rah advice, but I’m going to go in another direction.
If you’re serious about your writing, and you want to make a career about of it, treat it like a job. Don’t write when you have time or when you feel like it. Do you only work your job when you have time? Assuming no, then you shouldn’t treat your writing that way either.
One of my early mentors told me this piece of advice: dress and work like the job you want. So, even though writing isn’t my full time job, I treat it like it is. I make sure I have the right tools for the craft, network with the right people, and put aside time for it as if it was my full time job.
Now, my second piece of advice would be to get a dog. Writing is a pretty lonely profession sometimes. It helps to have something that pulls your butt out of the chair once in a while.
Read any good books lately?
I am currently rectifying a wrong and reading Scott Lynch’s glorious Gentlemen Bastards series. Recently, Tricia from Del Rey was kind enough to provide me an arc of The Republic of Thieves. I hate reading series out of order and Myke Cole was complaining on twitter about everyone in the world having the arc but him. So, I love Myke and gave the arc to him as a present and bought the first two books of the series.
Scott is the man!
What’s next for you, this year and beyond?
My momma always said that the more time I had on my hands, the lower my IQ got, so I’m trying to stay busy. I just signed a deal with Tor Books for books coming out in 2015 and 2016.
First up is Time Salvager, about a time traveler that scavenges for resources and technologies from a more prosperous past. Time traveling has strict rules though. A salvager can only scavenge from a dead-end time line—an event before a disaster or explosion—so that whatever they do in the past does not affect the present. The problem with this job is that the salvager sees the last terrible and terrifying moments of the victims, and he can’t do anything about it.
That’ll tend to mess a person up.
On top of that, I’m planning on writing Tao 3, tentatively titled The Rebirth of Tao. The robot overlords haven’t green lit the book yet but it’s something I’ve already started brainstorming where the series goes next.
About THE DEATHS OF TAO:
The sequel to The Lives of Tao.
The Prophus and the Genjix are at war. For centuries they have sought a way off-planet, guiding humanity’s social and technological development to the stage where space travel is possible. The end is now in sight, and both factions have plans to leave the Earth, but the Genjix method will mean the destruction of the human race.
That’s a price they’re willing to pay.
It’s up to Roen and Tao to save the world. Oh, dear…