There’s a new book on the horizon.

(P.S. You can click here or on the banner above to pre-order/purchase it!)

Exactly one year to the day since I released my debut book HUNTERS, I’ll be debuting the first book in a whole brand new series. This one is a SUPERHERO based saga with some Science Fiction overtones. So get ready for…

The Femme Fatales.

If you’re an old friend who used to play City of Heroes with me back in the day, then you may recognize the name. If you’re an avid reader of this website, then you may already know the history of how this series came about. But if you’re not then settle in and I’ll explain everything.

Back in 2005, I started to play a computer game. Called ‘City of Heroes‘.

I was (still am!) a huge comic book geek, so an MMORPG where I could both create and play a superhero… count me the fuck in!!!!g

My dream job had always been to be a comic book writer, so this level of creation was like manna from heaven for me. For the better part of a decade I played this game, creating a huge swathe of characters. More than that though, it’s where I met my wife, and made friends all over the world.

It’s fair to say that this little game was an integral part of my life. 

It was a game that attracted both sexes, and allowed for unparalleled customisation options for your characters. Want a female robot ninja with Wolverine claws?  You got it. Want an alien Batman in a pink costume? No problem. Want to play as a dog? Or a Chicken?  The character creator would allow you the creative tools to do it. Sometimes you just needed a sprinkle of imagination, and the ability to think outside the box a little.

For example…  Here are my characters, Glory Hound, and HypnoCow.

This, plus a multitude of character slots, led many players to suffer from Altitis. An affliction which sees the player create dozens and dozens of characters.

I was one of those people. 

To be fair, Altitis was encouraged. Not only did the fame provide you with all those character slots, and the means to easily build characters to fill them, but it allowed up to eight players to team up and use their characters abilities to complement each other. This in turn led to you finding a group of friends to play with and sticking with them as a group, teaming up on a regular basis. 

The CoH equivalent of ‘Guilds’ was a concept called SuperGroups. Think of it like The Avengers. A collection of individual super-heroes grouped together under one banner. I was in many of these, with many different players. 

The Echelon. The Blaze of the Immortals. The Plastic Army. The Debt Squad. The Freak Squad. The Mean Beanz.

And, The Femme Fatales.

Groups very often had their own themes or rules. For example, there was a group called The Reservoir Dolls, who were all female characters dressed in suits and had codenames like Ms Pink, Ms Black, or Ms Crimson. Then there were the Mercenaries of Illuminati, who were all Mastermind class characters (they had pets) and were either soldier themed or robot themed. 

We also had our little rituals, or our crazy moments. Like honoring anyone who dinged level 50. Or dressing up at Christmas, or in fancy dress! Or we’d all come together in the hundreds to defeat a big Archvillain like the Hamidon…

But for a long time, the SuperGroup that had the most impact on my playing time and the friends I made, was The Femme Fatales. A supergroup that was made up of exclusively female characters, who had a dress code of black, white and pink, and their insignia was a heart logo. It was more than an SuperGroup, it was a community. We’d play together a lot, chat on our Teamspeak server, and hang out on our forum,

Famke, Harvest Moon, Firey Rose, Ace of Diamonds, Anath, Pyra, Knightingale, Ecstatica

It was the forum where the Femme Fatales made the jump from game…to story.

I started writing a story on the forum. At first it was just a loosely connected series of short stories about our characters, but over time it grew. And grew. Annnnnnnnd grew.

As friends in the SuperGroup started to ask for their characters to be in the story, this little hobby started to get more complex. I put in a storyline. I connected characters in deep and meaningful ways. 

I called it ‘The Femme Fatality’ and was the first part of a kind of murder mystery tale that would be resolved in a second story called ‘The Tangled Web.

I then followed that one up with another story called ‘The Uncertain Future’. 

All told, I wrote about 500k words.

Bad words. Horribly unedited words. But words nonetheless.

When the notion of writing and getting a book published started to enter my head, I knew that it couldn’t be these books. Which is where the notion of Songbird came from. I had an idea for a new series, so I transplanted a few of the characters (in name only) and created a whole new world for them to play in. One full of supernatural things. Fae, Vampyrii, Werewolves, Trolls, Ice Giants and much more.

But the idea of a Femme Fatales book never left me. Not really. 

I started to do a quick and dirty edit on them in order to put them up for free on this website. 

But that didn’t satisfy. I wanted to actually write and publish them. Which meant I needed to tweak the story to change the backstory.

Which was when I started to run into issues.

How do I keep the spirit faithful, yet set this series in a world where everything was my own creation. I needed a place where I set the rules and I couldn’t get into any form of trouble by Copyright or Trademarks held by the game.

I needed a new playground for my original characters, and my the characters that my friends had created (more on this later!)

Which led me to the inevitable conclusion that I needed a whole new backdrop for these heroes to play out their stories against.

And I’ll talk more about THAT in part 2 of this post.

Love and Books

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12 Comments

  1. Rich

    Reply

    Jon that is pretty cool! Do your friends know that you are actually publishing this book now? I wonder if you stayed in contact with them?

    I wondered how you pulled another book (not connected to your series) together so quickly. Be sure to give a link once it’s published. I’d love to read it.

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      Yes, they do.
      The Femme Fatales series is a kind of pet project and is FULL of little easter eggs for my friends.
      I’ll put up a post soon enough about the characters, but to give a little info now…

      I got in touch with a load of my COH friends and floated the idea to them. I said I’d love to use their characters in the book in some capacity, and would they give me their blessing. If they did, I sent them a link to a googledoc, where they could give me all the details. Names, powers, backstory, etc. Most of them will be kind of recurring background characters, a few play biggere roles. But I wanted the story to be populated by characters from my time in the game, and maybe be something my friends could read and spot their characters in the background. I thought it would be fun.

      I also have a lot of book friends, so I’ve got a bunch of easter eggs in there for them too. For instance, in an early chapter one of the characters refers to a play she saw at the theater by a director who is a direct reference to my Tepris Press partner and her ‘Acts of’ series of books.

      These are very much a series of books I can have fun with in that respect.

      • Rich

        Reply

        That is pretty cool Jon. How many of your old COH friends reached back out to give you the backstory? I love this idea!
        I also think it is pretty cool that you took a step back from the Songbird series. I think we all need to do that from time to time. I hope the third book comes along nicely.

        • Jon Ford

          Reply

          I currently have 40 characters listed from old game friends, and more coming in. Everyone is really excited for it. Which pleases me no end! 😀

  2. AV Wilder

    Reply

    I had no idea that you were working on a separate project. I’m glad you’ve done it, though. I think many of us have prodded you in that direction. Your humor is simply too awesome to confine it to a novel.

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      Well, it is another novel. LOL
      This one is shorter and lighter in tone. I really just felt I needed to take a brief break from Songbird, just for a couple of months. I’d had this on the backburner for a while, so it’s nice to see it come to fruition.

  3. Acro

    Reply

    You guys sound like a fun group of friends. I love sci-fi stories and I dig your writing, so I’m happy to pre-order this one. Wow, you’re really cranking them out – **gazes wistfully at my book of poetry that I started writing five years ago and never completed.**

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      LOL It’s all about to slow down, Acro.
      I had Blood to Earth almost finished when Hunters came out, so they were a pretty quick turnaround. Book 3, Tooth & Claw, is still only a third written, so it’ll be a while.
      The Scorched Sky, was a pretty quick write as it’s far lighter than the Songbird books.
      But I’ll keep going! Thanks!

    • Ethan

      Reply

      I’m pretty new to learning about Jon and his books. I’m impressed at the speed of the releases too. Way to go Jon! I have not ordered any of them yet but I plan to!

      • Reply

        Thanks, Ethan. 😀
        Well, the speed of release is something I’d like to try and keep on top of, but it may slip a little. I work full time and write outside of my work hours, which means I’m limited in that respect.
        Obviously, Hunters was ready to go in March, and then I wrote and released 2 more books in 12 months.
        this year I’d like to have Book 3 of the SOngbird series out in a few months time (Tooth & Claw, looking for a Summer release) and then book 2 of the Femme Fatales (The Broken Ground) around Christmas time again.
        It would be nice to then try and hit March again for Book 4 of Songbird (DragonSong) but I’m not sure I can write that fast! LOL

        • Sarahh

          Reply

          That is one heck of a goal Jon. I love that you are a new author and are really rocking it right now! That is impressive! Is it hard to write two different topics basically around the same time?

          • ARGH! Tell me about it. I’m trying to concurrently write FF Book 2, and Songbird Book 3. It’s a tricky balancing act. LOL

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