- - June 12th, 2013
Next week sees the release of the fantasy novel BEFORE THE FALL (UK|US|ANZ), the second Rojan Dizon novel by Francis Knight (following FADE TO BLACK – UK|US|ANZ).
Below, another Orbit fantasy star Benedict Jacka, author highly popular Alex Verus novels, interviews Francis on the towering fantasy world of Mahala . . .
Benedict Jacka: One way to describe the Rojan Dizon books would be dark fantasy – how did you end up moving into that genre, and what’s it like to write in compared to other things you’ve done in the past?
Francis Knight: By accident! It started off as an antidote to what I had been writing – romance – and went from there. I like to challenge myself each time I start something new, and this was it. Every genre has its restraints, and I wanted to explore not-so-nice “heroes” and not-so-Happy-Ever-After endings and lots of other things that a romance reader might be very disappointed to find in her book! In particular I wanted to explore how being a not particularly nice chap doesn’t have to prevent you from doing the right thing.
BJ: How difficult do you find it to write a protagonist of the opposite sex? Do you find yourself asking guys for advice on how a male character would react in a particular scene you’re writing?
FK: The first time it was hard, I have to say. I actually find I prefer it nowadays. It’s a lot easier to separate my characters from me for a start! Also I love trying to get inside a guy’s head, see what makes them tick. I do sometimes ask husband/male friends/betas for advice about whether a guy would do X – but it’s just not that simple. It’s not about whether he’s a guy or not, it’s about who he is. Some guys would do one thing, and others would do the opposite. They’re still both guys.
BJ: So, the scenes in Fade to Black which go into detail on exactly what Rojan and the other pain-mages do to themselves to fuel their pain magic . . . did you deliberately make them wince-inducing or did it just work out that way?
FK: I actually tried not to be too graphic there, but it was necessary to show something, I think, or it wouldn’t have been honest. There’s a fine line between glossing over something important and showing graphic things that are unnecessary. Of course, that line is going to be different for everyone. I inferred more than I showed (I think/hope), but that goes for lots of things. Read the rest of this entry »
- - February 8th, 2013
This week sees the release of THE COLDEST WAR (UK | ANZ) , the second novel in Ian Tregillis’s landmark series, the Milkweed Triptych. The trilogy began with BITTER SEEDS (UK | ANZ) and concludes with the forthcoming NECESSARY EVIL (UK | ANZ).
These novels feature a secret history of Twentieth Century conflicts in which scientifically-enhanced superhumans and dark magic collide. The result is described by Fantasy Faction as ‘oh-so compelling, fascinating and frighteningly convincing’ and by Cory Doctorow as, ‘some of the best – and most exciting – alternate history I’ve read. Bravo.’
It’s possible to draw a few parallels between the themes in the Milkweed novels and Charles Stross’s highly popular Laundry Files (including the recent THE APOCALYPSE CODEX – UK | ANZ) – a series of science fiction spy thrillers featuring Bob Howard, once an IT geek, now a field agent working for a British government agency dealing with occult threats. They’re what SFX calls ‘beautifully handled, believable and well envisioned – a highly enjoyable bit of spy-fi.’
For that reason we were really interested to hear these two exceptionally clever Orbit authors in conversation about their series. The results are below!
Ian: In an afterword to THE ATROCITY ARCHIVES (“Inside the Fear Factory”) you mention that while writing the first Laundry novel you were advised to avoid Tim Powers’s novel DECLARE. And that later you were made aware of the Delta Green supplement to The Call of Cthulhu RPG, which again resides in a similar neighborhood.
(After BITTER SEEDS debuted, people assumed I had been influenced by DECLARE, Delta Green, *and* the Laundry novels! But, like you with DECLARE, I wanted to avoid cross-contamination. So I didn’t dive into THE ATROCITY ARCHIVES until after I turned in THE COLDEST WAR, at which point I was 2/3 through the Milkweed trilogy and the story was on a ballistic trajectory.)
But of course even Powers wasn’t the first to marry espionage and the occult – Dennis Wheatley’s novel THEY USED DARK FORCES first appeared in 1964, and Katherine Kurtz‘s LAMMAS NIGHT was published in 1983, as just two examples.
In the above-mentioned afterword, you make a strong case for why it’s natural to blend horror, the occult, and espionage. So is this an idea that’s continually bubbling into the aether to be rediscovered by other writers? Or have we reached the point where we’re having a conversation within an actual subgenre?
Charlie: It is indeed an actual subgenre! Or maybe a sub-subgenre: a corner of that section of urban fantasy that is preoccupied with the interaction between agents of the state and the occult. Read the rest of this entry »