Bringing their own experiences as a marginalized author to the page with flawed and genuine characters, O.E. Tearmann’s work has been described as “Firefly for the dystopian genre.”
Tearmann lives in Colorado with two cats, their partner, and the belief that individuals can make humanity better through small actions. They are a recipient of the 2023 Feathered Quill award, a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and the Queer Scifi group. In their spare time, they teach workshops on writing GLTBQ characters, plant gardens to encourage sustainable agricultural practices, and play too many video games.
First of all, tell me a little about your series and introduce us to the sequel(s).
Sure! Here’s the series blurb: It's 2155, and seven corporations call the shots on the land that was the United States of America. Democracy is dead. The Corporations run the City Grids for a profit and own their workers body and soul. And freedom? That’s just a word in the news vids.
But there are people fighting for a change. There’s a unit in the resistance, nicknamed the Wildcards. Officially Democratic State Force Base 1407, the Wildcards are fighters in the war to bring democracy back. They're everything the Corporations discard and despise: dreamers and fighters, punks and freaks and geeks who won't be told what to be or who to love. They've come up every walk of life to become the best unit the Democratic State Force has, and the family every one of them needs. And they are taking the Corps down, one day at a time.
The books, in order, are:
The Hands We’re Given
Call The Bluff
Raise The Stakes
Aces And Eights
Deuces Are Wild
And, as of April 22, Aces High Jokers Wild Book 7: Odds Against
I’ll let you in on a bit of a spoiler: things get better in this series. The story arc is designed to climb out of cyberpunk and up into solarpunk as the characters build on their wins, strengthen their communities and make their world a little better in each installment.
Do you find that most of your readers continue to read the whole series? Why do you think that is?
The sales numbers say that about half of the folks who read book one go on to read every book in the series. Right now, people need to believe things can get better, and that’s what I write: the calm resolve to look the world in the eye and say ‘yeah, I know everything’s a mess. So what are we going to do about it?’ I hope that’s what my readers are getting when they pick up each Wildcards book: a little hope, and a little resolve to make things happen IRL.
How difficult is it to add new characters in a sequel into already established relationships?
Adding characters isn’t too hard for me; it’s just this crew of buddies meeting folks in their lives. What’s harder for me is losing characters. A few longterm characters have had to die in the course of the series, and honestly, that hurts!
Is it difficult to continue with worldbuilding for a world you have already built in book 1? Do you find it easier to switch locations for the sequel and start again with worldbuilding?
For me, it isn’t hard at all. It’s more of a chance to explore. The setting of Book 1 is fairly intimate: a ramshackle little base in the middle of a future Colorado, with a few drives to Denver and Pueblo. A small, dusty setting full of hard choices. But as the series continues, the scope of the characters’ lives grows, and as the author I get to explore more and more of what it is to live in their iteration of the USA.
It has led me to do some very weird and specific Google searches though. Things like ‘what does Manhattan look like from Liberty Island’, so I could describe the Venice of the Hudson in 2160. Or things like ‘inside of a dog food factory’ so that I could get the details of a scene right. I’m very visual; if I’m going to write it, I want to see it.
Have you ever been stymied by a worldbuilding or plot detail from book 1 that is very inconvenient to deal with or write your way around in subsequent books?
Oh man, have I ever. Specifically, remembering things like ranks and regulations. It’s really embarrassing when you mix up a rank for a fairly major character and only catch it later. Writing myself out of that screwup was fun.
Would you say your craft has improved with the subsequent books?
I definitely like to think so! As I got more comfortable, the story flowed more easily. And as I got braver, my storytelling got more adventurous. I stopped relying on my genre expectations, and stepped out of the classic tropes by turning them on their heads. I think that’s really helped my style.
Do you have all the timeline planned for the full series?
Yep! The final book of this series comes out on Independence Day of next year. After that, I’ll be working up a 3-book YA coda series showcasing the new generation coming of age in a healing world.
Do you have any marketing tips for sequels?
A. your ARC team is key. Reviews are hard to land on series, and an Advanced Reader team can make all the difference
B. Tell the story. That comes first. If you chase the market, you’ll always be chasing.
C. Be patient. Series build momentum over time.
D. nobody’s work is for everyone. Network in the kinds of circles your work fits in. Find your people. Don’t waste your energy trying to find A LOT OF READERS. Just find your readers. They’ll tell their friends.
E. Yeah, I’m going to say the cliché: have fun with it. When either the writing or the marketing is frantic and forced, people can tell. Relax. Offer some free copies at online games. Get on podcasts. Do things that make marketing fun for you. But seriously, if you’re not having at least a little fun doing this? Stop doing it. Life’s too short.