I just released The Black Flag, which is the final book in my Successors trilogy.  It was a book that was long overdue, one that had gotten bumped in my schedule more than once to make room for something else.  It felt good to get back to it, and to finally finish it.  I knew a lot of you were waiting a long time, and I’m sorry it didn’t come sooner.

That said, as I finished the book, I found myself feeling a bit nostalgic. In my books, I’ve created many main characters. Tyler Barron, in my latest series, Blood on the Stars.  Arkarin Blackhawk, one of my personal favorites, in my Far Stars and Far Stars Legends books.  They are all special in their own way, products of my own imagination that took on lives of their own as I wrote their adventures in my own utterly disorganized, seat of the pants way.  But Erik Cain was my first, and as such, I think of him differently than the rest.

Erik has been the main character (or one of them) in twelve novels and one novella, starting with Marines, which was also my first book.  He’s been mentioned in a couple other stories, and he is, without question, the primary character of the Crimson Worlds.

I’ve always tried to do a lot of development for my characters, to explore how they think, the forces and feelings that drive them, and even the thoughts going through their heads.  I enjoy creating characters, and I think a well-conceived character leads to a good and entertaining story.  And Erik was good enough to let me “make my bones” with him.  All the things I try to do to give life to a character started with him.  It was particularly sporting of him to be so cooperative, since I pretty much tortured the poor guy nonstop.

Anyway, The Black Flag was most likely my last book with Erik, at least unless I decide to do some kind of prequel or stand alone Crimson Worlds book one day.  So writing that book was my own goodbye to him.  I think I did right by him in the end, and even though I hadn’t written him in at least a year and a half before I did Black Flag, only now I realize how odd it feels to be finished with him.  His story has been told, and barring some “lost chapter” sort of thing, I’ve had to bid him farewell and move on to other things.

Before I go, I have one more thing to say, but it’s a spoiler, so if you haven’t read The Black Flag yet, scroll down at your own risk.

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When I was writing the book, I hemmed and hawed about whether Erik would survive.  There were many times as I was writing, and I was sure he would die in the end of the book.  A heroic death would have suited him in many ways, and he came a hair’s breadth from getting it, but in the end, I thought I owed him some peace-and I was sure most of you would want to see that as well.  So, that’s what he got.  Erik Cain survived his last battle, and in his own, tired, battered, disillusioned way, he got his version of a happy ending.