The Mettle Universe


Let’s Go to the Mettle Universe

Understanding any piece means getting into its guts and exploring some of what didn’t end up on the page. The stuff on the cutting room floor, if you will. Here, it’s all about the Mettle Universe.

In the Mettle Universe, Vanadium looms large, but Chromium comes first
In the Mettle Universe, Chromium is the first metal to go

How Does the Mettle Universe Tick?

I started writing Mettle back in November of 2017. It was a NaNoWriMo project.

Because I like to outline my projects, particularly for NaNo, I was already thinking about it before I started officially writing.

At times, inspiration comes from a person. Or it may come from a point I want to make. Another source of inspiration is characters.

But this one was weird. It was a dream of something very small yet very specific. My husband and I were on Cape Cod for vacation. And in a few hours, I had the rough outline. I made nearly no changes to this outline. This one was like taking dictation. I have never, ever had such a time of it with a book. But I hope I do again someday! Because it was a kick.

Here is the Mettle Universe.


Perhaps the first piece was Craig Firenze. I found him almost full-formed. I could hear his voice and see his face nearly immediately. Texas by way of Georgia, Craig is a former civil engineer who has gone into PR and communications. He’s a mid-level mouthpiece for NASA.

There is More than One Main Character!

Before this, I hadn’t done multiple POV, except for some serious head hopping (which thank God I have stopped doing). But in Mettle, each chapter is devoted to one person’s POV. This keeps the prose clearer.

Other characters who appeared quickly include Elise Jeffries, Noah Braverman, and Nell—she didn’t get a last name until later. Mei-Lin Quan also showed herself, while Kitty Kowalski and Mink Lopez appeared together. Dez skateboarded in, with Olga Nicolaev and Eleanor Braverman in tow. And I had nearly all of my cast.

Other humans in the story include Jeannie Scutter Firenze, Chet McKey, Jackie (no last name), Kyle Ramos, Renée Slingerman, Jerry Cordry, Doug Hunter, Shelley (no last name), Francine O’Donnell, Dave Tracy, and Sally Murphy. There are also doctors and nurses in one chapter: Marcus Casabian, David Chelsey, Carrie Franker, Lydia Marquez, Raja Panchali, Teresa Uxbridge, and Lloyd Wattson.

The Time Frame

The first chapter starts on March 16 and ends in the same year, on October first. In the final chapter, a kind of afterword, the date is a decade later, again on March 16th. Originally, I had the story take place in 2020. But then the pandemic happened. So now, technically, it’s merely “the present time”.

Where Does it all Take Place?

There are some scenes in Houston and a particularly long and involved scene on an aircraft flying from Houston to DC which is rerouted to Boston. Otherwise, everything takes place in Boston, either in the Brighton section or a brief bit downtown. In fact, a lot of the action takes place in my real-life house. I changed the street names, so Google maps won’t help you here.

What’s in the Mettle Universe?

In this universe, I write more tweens than I normally do. In addition, I wrote about the troubles in Craig and Jeannie’s marriage in a way that I don’t normally. Elise is bi, but that’s only her say-so. Unlike in Untrustworthy or The Enigman Cave, she doesn’t really have a relationship on the page. Although she does refer to an ex-wife named Tony.

Characters break the law pretty regularly and no one bats an eye. Oh, and the swearing. So. Much. Swearing.

But that’s how the characters sound to me.

What Differentiates the Mettle Universe from Other Books and Series I’ve Written?

Mettle is an odd duck for a lot of reasons. For one thing, the action has violent elements, but the worst of the violence has nothing to do with aliens. It’s between human beings.

Is There Room in the Mettle Universe for Sequels?

Not really, unfortunately. Much like Untrustworthy, it’s very much a standalone book.

But there is room for a prequel!

The Mettle Universe — Takeaways

Probably my biggest takeaway is that the idea of creating a universe with multiple POVs is very possible. I found a way to differentiate their voices, even the voices of the less-seen supporting characters.

Want to learn about more universes? Then head on over to the Universal Explorations page where you can get to another universe.

The Mettle Universe—an Exploration Click To Tweet

Want More of the Mettle Universe?

If the Mettle Universe resonates with you, then check out my other articles about Craig, Nell, and the others and their version of the apocalypse.

Character Reviews:

Self-Review: Mettle

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