Risingshadow has the honour of publishing a guest post by Jay Posey.
Jay is a narrative designer, author, and screenwriter by trade. He started working in the video game industry in 1998, and has been writing professionally for over a decade. Currently employed as Senior Narrative Designer at Red Storm Entertainment, he’s spent around eight years writing and designing for Tom Clancy’s award-winning Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six franchises.
A contributing author to the book Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing, Jay has lectured at conferences, colleges, and universities, on topics ranging from basic creative writing skills to advanced material specific to the video game industry.
GUEST POST: Birth of the Outriders by Jay Posey
Inspiration is a funny thing. Before I wrote my latest book Outriders, if you’d asked me what an old Western movie, an elite top secret special operations unit, and Dropbox had in common, I would have had no idea what you were talking about. After writing it, it’d still be a really weird question, but I think I could come up with an answer.
The first time I ever heard the word “outrider” was when I was a kid, watching a Western called The War Wagon, starring John Wayne. At one point in the movie (if my memory hasn’t completely deceived me), several armed men ride furiously into town, stop just long enough to jump on fresh horses who are already waiting for them, and then tear off again into the surrounding countryside. A few moments later, an armored stagecoach rolls through, carrying the latest shipment of gold.
Those men who’d ridden through first were an armed escort, riding out ahead of the main group to watch for danger and clear the way. They were outriders.
Apparently that stuck with me. When I sat down to write my newest military sci-fi novel, that idea, that concept of “riding out ahead of all others” was one of the inspirations.
Another was real life US Special Operations Forces, particularly US Army Special Forces.
I’ve spent the past eleven years or so as a writer and game designer for Red Storm Entertainment, a Ubisoft game development studio originally founded by Tom Clancy. Most of my time has gone to working on the Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon franchise, which is based on a fictional Army SF unit. While writing Outriders, I drew heavily on all the things I’ve learned about special operations both from my research and from interviews with real life special operators.
When I started the book, I knew I wanted to focus on a small, elite team, tasked with “going out ahead”; a team whose primary job was to help direct the greater military effort the right direction, to prepare the way for others or, in the best possible scenario, to take care of situations so others never had to be sent at all. And though I knew I wanted the team to be highly combat-capable, I wanted their main function to be something other than direct action; sure, they can shoot and blow stuff up with the best of them, but that’s not their primary purpose. That idea led me down the path of creating my team as an intelligence-gathering unit first and foremost.
Fortunately for me, there’s a real life analog that served as a good jumping off point. Somewhere within the US Army is a Special Operations unit that has gone through too many name changes to list, but that is generally simply referred to as “the Activity”. Once known as the Intelligence Support Activity, the special operators in this elite unit have gathered actionable intelligence for some of the most critical missions in the past 30 or more years. If you’ve heard of any raids by US Special Operations Forces involving high-profile bad guys, it’s a safe bet the Activity was involved. Reading up on the little information there is on the group helped steer me the right direction as I created my team.
And finally, from the science-fiction side of things, there was a last component I wanted to explore. One of the serious challenges that special operations units face is the fact that they’re made up of some of the most well-trained and capable people in the armed forces, and then sent into situations that pose great risk and where the chances of losing a team member can be very high. So few are able to achieve the levels of skill and proficiency necessary to enter these units, and the loss of just one individual can have powerful ramifications for the entire organization.
Looking at that issue opened up an avenue for me to explore. My elite team of highly combat-capable intelligence gatherers received another advantage; they call it “death-proofing”. It’s sort of like Dropbox or iCloud for your mind. In the book, the consciousnesses of my team members are on back up, and in the case of extreme injury or death, they can be transferred into a new body, a replica. (Though that technological capability helps mitigate some of the impact of losing a teammate, it is, of course, not all it’s cracked up to be.)
And that’s how an old Western, a top secret special operations unit, and Dropbox all helped me create the 519th Applied Intelligence Group.
Better known as the Outriders.
May 3 2016 (5 May UK)
Captain Lincoln Suh died on a Wednesday. And things only got harder from there.
Snatched out of special operations and thrown headfirst into a secretive new unit, Lincoln finds himself as the team leader for the 519th Applied Intelligence Group, better known as the Outriders. And his first day on the job brings a mission with the highest possible stakes.
A dangerously cunning woman who most assuredly should be dead has seemingly returned. And her plans aren’t just devastating, they might be unstoppable.
How do you defeat a hidden enemy when you can’t let them know they’ve been discovered?
You send in the Outriders.