The characters of the Spinward Fringe series are a combination of both - ideas and borrowed traits. After a conversation with a writer who is much better than I who said simply, "I hope you never try to outrun Spinward Fringe. It'll be with you forever."
I ended up thinking about that all day. I went to that author with advice, and, like many great thinkers, he not only answered my questions but left me with a bone to gnaw on (thought-wise). After a full day of working on the Expendable Few, setting up a schedule for updating Broadcasts 1-6, and doing research reading, I'm comfortable with the notion that I'll never outrun Spinward Fringe. I love the characters, and I think they've grown from those patched together figures in my head into personalities that I carry around constantly.
At the same time, it's not like it's a huge entity or something I consider a burden. Spinward Fringe Broadcast 6: Fragments has only sold about 10,000 copies in the US and Canada. While I find that a staggering number, I'm still no more than a pebble on the vast beach that is science fiction. I love where I am right now. Many readers have become long range acquaintances and friends. I make a decent living, and I know that when I release the next two or three books there will be people interested in reading them. As a reader recently told me; "I'm living the dream."
It's a lot of work, don't get me wrong, but I'm doing what I want to be doing - no complaints, only thanks. That leads me back to my point. I don't want to outrun Spinward Fringe, I'm glad it's here, and writing Broadcast 7 is hard because I don't want to end this part of the series. I'm writing Broadcast 7 as if there will never be another Spinward Fringe book. That's difficult.
I know I'll begin new challenges in Broadcast 8, so it's not at all impossible. Endings are important in fiction - they give us an opportunity for closure that real life doesn't always provide. At the same time, I can't wait to write Broadcast 8. Why, then, am I taking a break to write a horror novel?* Dark Arts is a concept I've been developing for a while, and I need to clear my head before seriously starting a new book in the Spinward Fringe series. I have a few things written for Broadcast 8 already, but the smart thing to do is to put it down for a little while so I can get back to it fresh, eager to return to that universe.
So, what can I promise for the future of Spinward Fringe? More Polish! Two more books in the next couple months (if my editors and beta-readers sign off on them)! More books after that! I'm also doing work in the background so side projects like the store go more smoothly. Balancing what I have on my plate right now has become challenging, so I'm doing something about that. More about that coming this week.
Looking to the very near future, the first chapters of Spinward Fringe: Expendable Few, go to test readers Monday. Things are moving right along.
As for reader mail and other correspondences, I'll eventually answer everyone, just give me time.
In short, the future of Spinward Fringe looks pretty good. I'd much rather ride along than try to outrun it.
*More info on that other book here.