In my space opera trilogy, the Templars were an old species, maybe the first to achieve interstellar travel. When humanity’s empire butted up against Templar space, war erupted. Humanity unleashed a genetic plague that wiped the Templars out.
The trilogy opens on the Templar tombworld, a ghost planet full of mountains that were hollowed out and used as graves by the insectile Templars. Back when the Templars still existed, they protected the planet and didn’t allow outsiders to land there.
In the decades since the Templars perished, their tombs have lain undisturbed: a monument to the former rulers of the galaxy. When The Dangerous Type begins, a team of humans has bribed all the local authorities to turn a blind eye as they loot the graves.
I envision the Templar tombs as huge inside, full of space and just as black. Their stone walls have a strange ability to generate a field that keeps things stored inside as fresh and shiny as the day they were buried. Mostly, that means that Templar warriors are still contorted by the plague that killed them, their blood still fresh.
In the case of Raena Zacari, entombed alive during the Human/Templar War, the stone preserved her, despite 20 years without food or water or air. Some readers have interpreted that as stasis, which implies a “slowing or stoppage of normal flow of bodily fluid,” according to Merriam-Webster.
I see Raena’s confinement more as a bend in time. She can get up, walk around, explore the extent of her grave. For a while, she had a lantern left behind by her jailers, but eventually its batteries ran down. After she shredded her cloak and it failed to repair itself, she believed that any injury she did to herself—intentionally or not—would not heal. She was more afraid of living forever with a concussion or a broken bone than she wanted to die, so she endured her imprisonment, entertaining herself with memories, slowly becoming sane, and waiting to be released.
After she gets out, of course, there’s hell to pay. She goes on a mission to hunt down the commander who watched her burial alive—and never came to rescue her after the War ended. From then on, the story is off and running.
As a matter of fact, Raena’s entombment actually dates back to the very first story I published about her: “Claustrophobia,” which appeared in the zine Anthology in 1986. I’ve written about my own claustrophobia, but there was an equally important reason for Raena’s imprisonment: since my friends and I created a shared universe zine, we were writing for each other’s characters. One of the others wrote about Raena as heartless and evil. I didn’t recognize her. Horrified, I made it so that she couldn’t appear as a villain in anyone else’s story. I locked her up alive in the Templar tomb to keep her character safe from misuse.
Storywise, locking her up was really a good choice. It meant that, going forward, Raena appeared as a specter or motivation in a lot of the other characters’ stories. Only after the zine ceased publication did I toy with the idea of letting her out—and that’s where this trilogy came from.
So why doesn’t Raena age while she’s imprisoned? I wanted the other characters in The Dangerous Type to react to post-imprisonment Raena as if she is still the violent, unpredictable, frightened girl she was when they knew her during the War. Those preconceptions are easier to sustain because she looks like the same girl. But just as the others have aged and changed, so has she. It’s just not visible on Raena’s surface. I’ve written about my experiments with persona, but Raena’s youthful appearance was crucial to that exploration.
All novels combine a whole lot of different influences, but those are the elements that kicked off my In the Shadow of the Templars trilogy. The Dangerous Type came out from Night Shade Books on July 7, 2015, followed by Kill By Numbers in September and No More Heroes in November that year.
I put together a whole booklet of behind the scenes essays about the Templar books and their influences — along with the first chapter of The Dangerous Type, a prequel story about Raena and Ariel, and a whole lot of other juicy stuff — which you can download for free at Bookfunnel. Here’s the link: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/wuagew2m0f
The novels are available at Amazon, Bookshop.org, Barnes & Noble, or directly from me: https://lorenrhoads.com/product-category/space-opera/