Dave Weber asked me for a novella for his first shared universe anthology set in the Honor Harrington universe (Worlds of Honor). I’d been thinking of doing a series of space operas based on Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series, so I decided to use this novella as a chance to test the concept of two dissimilar friends as dual leads.
For a setting I used a young nobleman making a grand tour with his tutor and personal servant. The action stemmed from real events in the Greek islands in 1795: a Russian nobleman determined to take a Greek temple back to St. Petersburg in the warship he borrowed from the Czar–and who bombarded it in fury when he couldn’t manage to dismantle it; and a French frigate whose crew murdered their officers in harbor when they were ordered to fight a (much smaller) British sloop.
Incidentally, I’d arranged with Dave Weber that he would edit my story to bring it firmly into the Honorverse. (I wasn’t going to memorize the 70 pages of physics he’d invented for the series, for example.) He did a heavy edit for that purpose. I still get complaints about mistakes I made in ranks and technology. No, Dave Weber made the final decision on every one of those choices.
I was pleased with the way A Grand Tour worked out, but I felt it needed the length of a full novel to do the concept justice. I used a similar pairing (a young naval officer and a librarian) in With the Lightnings–not at all the same characters but the same sort of characters–and think the result is some of the best work I’ve ever done.