How The Trident Deception Became a Series
Rick Campbell, author of the upcoming military thriller Treason (March 2019), explains how his books unexpectedly turned into a series.
I write a series of submarine thrillers based on The Trident Deception, which Booklist hailed as, “The best submarine novel since The Hunt for Red October.” One of the questions I occasionally get is: Did I plan for The Trident Deception to become a series? The answer is—No. I didn’t even plan on becoming a writer. If I had to make a list of the top 100 things I wanted to do when I grew up, writing would not have made the list.
I was a math and science guy in high school, got an engineering degree in college, and my profession up to that point in my life—operating submarines and nuclear reactors—was technical. Give me numbers and formulas, and I’m happy. Writing was definitely not my thing, which my 9th grade English teacher made painfully clear. I couldn’t run away from writing fast enough—mandatory freshman English in high school and college, and that was it.
As a kid, I didn’t like writing but loved reading. I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, and I had a story rolling around in my head for over 20 years that I thought would make a good book. But I could never bring myself to write it because I didn’t think I had the talent. I thought writing was an innate skill, the kind of talent inherent in the liberal arts folks. The types sitting around the common areas, playing guitars, and wearing tie-dye t-shirts. You know, the creative types, which definitely did not include me. Just give me numbers and formulas, please.
However, I finally decided to write that book. I call it Book 0 because it went nowhere. I sent out 40 queries to literary agents and didn’t get a single response. In hindsight, there were a lot of things wrong with Book 0 (and its query letter), starting with its genre. It’s best described as a military science-fiction paranormal romance. I’m not sure what bookstore shelf that would end up on. Anyway, I’d finally written Book 0, and it was time to move on to more productive pastimes.
But something strange happened while writing Book 0. It was the first time I’d done anything creative in my life, and I really enjoyed it. So I decided to give it another try and write another book. But what? Fortunately, there’s an adage in writing that says: Either write what you love, or you write what you know. I’d written what I loved, and no one else loved it. So for the second book, I decided to write what I knew: submarines! That book became Book 1, The Trident Deception.
I won’t bore you with all the details of how I learned how to write, got an agent and then a book deal, except to say my writer friends call it an exciting journey. However, I’d rather have bamboo splints shoved under my fingernails than go through that process again. But that gets me to how The Trident Deception series came to be.
The Trident Deception was on submission to several publishers, and I got a call from my agent saying that an editor at St. Martin’s Press enjoyed the book and was wondering if I was writing a sequel. My answer was—Of course! If so, the editor wanted to read the synopsis. That night, I threw something together using the characters who survived The Trident Deception and sent it in. Two days later, I got a two-book offer.
The Trident Deception did very well when it released, and I was offered another two-book deal a few weeks later. At that point, I realized—I’m a writer now. I’ve been contracted for six novels in The Trident Deception series so far, with hopefully many more to come.