I've known Jekka and Mirian Raas for far longer than might be apparent. Their first adventure was published in the 2015 release Beyond the Pool of Stars, but two VERY similar characters with the same names appeared in one of my earliest published short stories more than a decade ago. Jekka was almost exactly the same; it was Mirian who lacked a little something to make her more unique. James Sutter suggested her dual heritage, and once that was added to her character, and I changed the setting to Golarion's Sargava, the rest snapped quickly into place.
Long before I started drafting Plague of Shadows, back when James and I were tossing ideas around about who would star in my first Pathfinder book, I showed him the rough draft of a novel I was working on about Mirian and Jekka. He liked it enough that it stuck in his memory, but back then the line was just getting started, and he understandably wanted something a little less experimental than a book featuring a magical salvage diver and her lizardfolk friend. But after two novels starring Elyana and Drelm I was wanting to try something a little different, and James still liked the pitch starring Mirian and Jekka, so he greenlit a project featuring them.
That meant that the pitch was approved; I still needed to get the details down and make sure any events in the book wouldn't tread on concepts being developed by other authors for other novels. That's why James wisely likes to examine detailed outlines. I'm used to drafting outlines, but not the way I did these. First, I was originally planning just one book, but I was having so much fun that I went ahead and kept outlining another tale right on the heels of the first. Second, a substantial chunk of the outline was written while I was sitting in The Three Broomsticks while my wife and daughter rode and re-rode a bunch of Harry Potter roller coasters. My own enjoyment of roller coasters has waned, you see. While drafting with my notebook I was struck that I was writing the outline for an imaginary adventure in an imaginary location. Or at least, a location that had once been imaginary.
Later during that same Florida vacation I pulled out the pocket notebook again while my daughter was riding The Tower of Terror over at Hollywood Studios and made some more additions.
I'm not sure what James first thought when he got two outlines instead of the expected one, but he liked them both, and signed me on for two new books. I actually wrote them back to back, one right after the other, as they're set only a few weeks apart, but Paizo didn't want to release them one after the other—how many underwater salvage books with lizardfolk co-stars do you need released in a single year, right?
But here the second one is at last. I think I enjoyed drafting it even more than the first. This time I wrote Jekka as one of the point of view characters, and man, did I have fun with that. And I added a new character by the name of Captain Ensara, and his point of view chapters were just as much fun to draft. Hopefully you'll see why when you meet this shady pirate captain, who's not as evil as he thinks he is but isn't as good as you'd like him to be.
I've been a roleplaying gamer since the mid '70s. I've had occasional hiatuses, but I don't think any of them have lasted more than a year. Maybe it's the storyteller in me, but I always come back to it. And I usually end up as the Game Master. I'd like to think all those years of practice have helped hone my storytelling. I've drawn upon some plots and villains to write my Dabir and Asim stories (the villain's plan in The Desert of Souls is straight out of one of my fantasy campaigns). But until these books I've never actually used any characters from my games in my fiction.
Captain Ensara is one of those, a recurring non-player character my players enjoyed who was slightly sinister yet retained a ragged code of honor. And Jekka's cousin, Kalina, is my wife's character, down to her name and even her weapons. If you like those weapons Kalina carts around, and their names, that's all my wife Shannon's doing. I based Kalina's personality upon the way my wife plays her.
Honestly, Kalina is so much fun to see in action that when one campaign with her wrapped up I encouraged my wife to carry her over into the next. Certainly Kalina's one of her all time best characters. I don't know if you've seen this in your own games, but sometimes there's a character that just "sparks" reaction in other characters and helps create situations that deepen the world and provide hooks for other players to hang things on. (I'm not talking about the sort of character who needlessly creates drama or pulls the adventure off track.) I'm actually very fortunate to have a group that's so experienced that they all manage that spark at different times, but so far the rest of those characters haven't made the transfer to my fiction. Who knows, maybe one day the world will be ready for Ash and Kol and Quirok and Tylin...
For now, though, you've got a chance to get to know Jekka even better than you did in the first book. All your favorite survivors from the first book are there as well, including the heroic Ivrian and, of course, the daring Mirian Raas. It's my hope that you'll enjoy reading this new adventure as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Howard Andrew Jones
Pathfinder Tales Author