An Interview of James S. A. Corey by Daniel Abraham

DANIEL:  Well. This is odd, isn’t it? I mean, I’ve done interviews before, but seeing that I’m half of the team that writes as “James S. A. Corey” and you are James S. A. Corey, this whole project feels a little meta.

JIMMY: Eh. Meta’s for chumps. Meta and twee have been what’s wrong with science fiction for decades. You got me here to ask questions, ask questions. I’ll answer ’em. I got nothing to hide.

DANIEL: All right. So Leviathan Wakes is the first book in the Expanse series. That’s been out for almost a year now.  How has your view of the book changed since it came out?

JIMMY: More distance, mostly. It’s not like I go back and reread it. Did that enough when it was in production. The editing pass, the copy edits, the galley proofs. I still go back if there’s something I’m looking for, but you have to understand, I’m coming in sight of the end of the third book. The opening page of Leviathan Wakes is a long way from here. Like what I remember, though. Not a bad book. Still love that cover though.

DANIEL: And Caliban’s War, the second in the series. That’s out in July?

JIMMY: June. June 26th. That’s three weeks after the manuscript for Abaddon’s Gate goes in, so by the time we’re talking about Abaddon’s Gate coming out, Caliban‘ll be about the same part of my head that Leviathan is now.  Caliban was an interesting book to write.  Leviathan was the first time out of the garage, as it were.  Caliban, I feel like the story’s a little more broken in. Smoother.

DANIEL: And the third one. The original title for that was Dandelion Sky, wasn’t it?  Why the change?

JIMMY: Editor thought it sounded like I was writing about a picnic. There’s some ways that the third books goes a bit dark, too.  Seemed like the better fit.

DANIEL: So Ty Franck, the other half of the team that writes as James S. A. Corey, has talked on the blog about books that inspired some the Expanse, especially Stars My Destination and Starship Troopers. What other books do you see influencing the Expanse?

JIMMY: Hell, all of ’em. Been reading Niven and Clark since I could read. Pohl. Brackett. Delaney. All the old school. Thing was, that was back in the day when we were still thinking we’d head out, wasn’t it? Moon bases and commercial flights to Mars and all. Then Bill Gibson came out with Neuromancer, poor bastard, and no one of could see it was an effing dystopia. Me either, for that matter. Got to grow out of your mirror shades before you can look back and see what all you left behind that might have been worth keeping.

DANIEL: So you see the series as what? A throwback?

JIMMY: I see it as the kind of story I like to read. It’s got a different sensibility than the 70s books did, but it’s telling the stories like they used to back before someone tricked us into thinking it was more fun not to have fun with it. Started acting like we were cultural critics and deconstructing the branch we were standing on.

DANIEL: You know, I’ve got to just put in here, I’m feeling a little uncomfortable with some of the things you’re saying. You seem really dismissive of a lot of very good work that’s come out since the 1970s.

JIMMY: Nah, I’m just dismissive of the crap stuff.  The folks who were good enough to get away with it got away with it.  Still, as a genre, we’ve been doing a lot of first-rate running down the wrong road. I like spaceships and lunar colonies. If you prefer dystopia and cultural criticism, there are people doing that.

DANIEL: And what is it with the pseudonym? Why not just say “by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck?”

JIMMY: We live in an age of brands, don’t we?  Daniel Abraham, he writes epic fantasy. Ty Franck’s new on the scene so everyone’ll think he’s the one doing all the work. The nuances are all a mess. Better to start clean, give a new project a new name.  Not like it’s a state secret. Everybody knows.

DANIEL: But it does seem kind of meta.

JIMMY: That. And twee.