A Thriller Writer’s Approach to the Unioverse by Carter Wilson

Website Administrator
September 22, 2023

This is a guest post by author Carter Wilson, who’s work will appear in the Unioverse anthology, Stories of the Reconvergence, available August 15th.

Let’s be clear, writing science fiction is not my thing. Not that I have anything against it, it’s just hard! It’s difficult enough to create a believable location in which to set a story, but an entire planet? Come on.

I’m known for my dark, psychological thrillers. For writing from the POV of an everyday person who has horrible situations thrown at them, at which point I get to sit back and watch what they do. Will they overcome their obstacles, or die trying? It’s important to me the reader connects with the protagonist, can feel the struggle, and asks themselves what would I do?

When Josh Viola asked me to contribute a story to the Unioverse anthology, I was at first hesitant. How do I do that? Do I need to create aliens with gills and stuff? Would I need to craft a whole Tolkien-esque language? But then he explained the Unioverse, how vast it was, the limitlessness of its story-telling potential, and my mind started churning. It occurred to me that dark, personal stories about struggle and conflict are at the heart of many sci-fi novels, and my expertise at intimate and twisted thrillers could be applied to a Unioverse setting. I started to see a path forward.

And then Josh told me about the residue. About how, when a life form jumps in the Unioverse and takes on a new skin, trace residue from the previous occupant’s consciousness remains in that skin. The moment he told me that my writer’s brain went into overdrive. What if… what if a person was on vacation, maybe even their honeymoon, and the skin they rented had just been occupied by a serial killer?

Yeah, that was something I could work with.

“Ghost in the Machine” went though several iterations, and at each pass it got a touch darker and more sinister. I’ve been told it’s one of–if not the most–disturbing stories in the collection, a badge I wear with honor. But at the root of it is simple struggle. One women’s journey toward mental salvation, with the killer’s residue serving as both an obstacle and a catalyst on her path. It’s a psychological thriller that could take place nearly anywhere. In this case, that place is the planet Adara, an exotic vacation destination that’s as untamed as it is luxurious.

Hope the readers enjoy it. I certainly had fun as hell writing it. Am I allowed to call myself a sci-fi writer now?

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