A: Biohell is just undergoing the editing process, and I’ve got another two very strong plot ideas for Combat K novels in the future- really original sci-fi concepts that have never been done before. So, hopefully, you’ll be seeing a lot more of Franco, Keenan and Pippa!! I love the dynamic of these three characters, this triumvirate, and to be honest, could easily write ten novels encompassing their dreams and obsessions. And that’s also the beauty of sci-fi, you’re not tied to one world or one idea. Biohell, for example, is a sci-fi take on the zombie genre, except it explains zombification using military grade technology. Hopefully, as long as people like the books and buy them, I’ll keep on writing!!
Q: I totally loved your character Franco in War Machine. What inspired his creation?
A: Haha, originally it was a gross deviation of a friend of mine (Frank R.), but then came to suck up some little aspects of me, and eventually transmogrified into this uncontrollable beast with his own ideas and philosophies. And a love of horseradish. Never forget the horseradish.
Q: Have you seen the cover art for Biohell yet? If so, can you share it with us?
A: The artist, Dave Seeley, is just putting the finishing touches to the artwork for Biohell, but even in its current format its absolutely superb. I loved War Machine’s cover, but this is just something else!! And, um, I don’t think I’m allowed to give out early samples- when I get the thumbs up, I’ll post it on my website because it’s too beautiful (and grotesque!) not to be shared.
Q: Three of my favorite SciFi novels, Orphan's Destiny by Robert Buettner, Death's Head by and War Machine from this past year are in a similar vein. Have you read either of those novels?
Do you have time to read much? What are your favorite reads from the past year?
A: I haven’t read those novels, and to be honest, try not to read anything in a similar style to what I write for fear of subconsciously hoovering up somebody else’s writing mannerisms. I don’t get much time to read, but what time I do get is reserved for , Dave Gemmell, and maybe a little bit of . stuff and mine are massively different, so I have no fear of hovering him up. Heh. I really enjoyed Banks’ The Steep Approach to Garbadale, thoroughly enjoyed ’s biography What’s It All About? (I’m a big fan) but my favourite was a re-read of Anthony Burgess’, A Clockwork Orange, which I hadn’t read since back at University (oooh, lots of years ago). I wish I had more time to read! Unfortunately (for some!), I have to use my time to write.
Q. Did you discover any writers new to you that you enjoyed?
A: I just read a short story by James Lovegrove, which was superb and I’ll be checking out one of his novels in the near future. I’m also going to try Neal Asher, his Prador Moon looks interesting. I’m all for anything with giant crabs (hello to Guy N. Smith!). I’ve also had recommended to me, and believe I’m getting Ilium for . So, lots to fill my reading input hopper, then.
Q: Are your previous novels Spiral, Quake and Warhead science fiction?
A: It’s weird. I was writing science fiction, couldn’t get published, said to my agent ‘What’s selling at the moment?’ to which she replied that thrillers were a booming field. So I sat down and wrote Spiral as a mainstream thriller. This was then picked up by Orbit (a science fiction imprint of Little Brown), and working with my then-editor, Simon Kavanagh, we gradually turned it back into science-fiction, albeit very near-future science fiction. Quake then goes one step further, and is more overtly SF, and Warhead is post-apocalypse, with the bad-guys a blend of human and insect- so yeah, science fiction, then. I think the covers are misleading, and although I loved them at the time I think the whole misdirected marketing thing didn’t work, and people who bought the books expecting an Andy McNab book were disappointed. So. The trilogy are SF thrillers set on a near-future Earth. A little bit more raw than the stuff I’m writing now, but just as fast-paced and action-filled.
Q: I understand you're a fan of fantasy/historical writer David Gemmel. As I was reading War Machine, I thought a few times I'd love to read a bloody sword slinging fantasy novel written in the same action adventure tone. Have you ever thought about writing fantasy?
A: You know, I started off writing fantasy when I was about 15 years old, thanks in main to Mr Gemmell. I loved his Legend and Waylander books so much, I wanted to emulate him. Fast forward a few years, and I’m writing SF. However, I did pitch an idea a few years back about a heroic fantasy novel, but where the bad guys had discovered rudimentary automatic weapons. It was suggested by my agent this wasn’t a good idea, so I dumped it. Recently, I’ve been toying with a few ideas of writing a fast-paced grim heroic fantasy saga, very much in my high-octane style but against a fantasy setting and with gnarly fantasy heroes. I’ll keep you posted J.
Q: I'm a fan of many British brews, but especially Boddingtons. What's your favorite pint?
A: Haha, that would probably by the Irish pint of Guinness. Funnily, I was in last year, and in one of the theme parks (I forget which, kids, huh?) there was a complete reconstruction of an English pub complete with jocular comedy cockney barman who had moved over from to run this pub in the middle of Disney. I stood at the bar, and an American guy ordered a sampler of all the beers- which also came with a glass of Guinness. Gods, you should have heard him moan about how disgusting it was, and I spent a while explaining to him about acquired taste and how if you drink Guinness after a different ale, then it doesn’t taste right. Sadly, I don’t think I convinced him.
Boddingtons is a traditional ale, and I used to have to pass the brewery on the way to work in the city centre in my younger days (before I got sacked, long story). They’ve closed it now, and Boddingtons, the ‘Cream of ’, is brewed in . So I believe.
Q: Do you read ? Graphic novels? Got a favorite super-hero? Marvel or DC fan?
A: Sorry, I don’t. I dabbled when I was younger with 2000AD (superb!) and also read a few of the graphic adaptations of ’s work. I think there’s something wrong in my brain. The pictures just get in the way of the text and I can’t read and experience them properly. So, just boring old text for me, I’m afraid.
Q: Tell me something about the British I don't know.
A: Haha. That’s a tough one. Um. Ah. Even though we speak a very, very similar language, we are actually massively different in terms of culture. I don’t understand your love of waffles and jello, just as I’m sure you don’t understand our obsession with cups of tea (yes, I do drink it) and sausage and eggs fried in lard.
Actually, do you know what a black pudding is? It’s this ball of congealed pig’s blood with lumps of fat in it, which you slice up and eat with sausage, bacon and egg. Traditional British stodge. Man, it’s ****ing revolting. But my mum loves it!!
Q. Any travel plans? Have you ever been to the United States?
A. Yeah, I’ve been to the States 4 times. I’ve been all over Florida, Miami, the Keys, etc, and booked an internal flight up to (to research Warhead, funnily enough- in the book, the bad guys nuke ). I’m hoping to come for an extended visit in 2008, and do a few conventions whilst I’m there. I believe Worldcon is in , and I can combine this with a visit to the Overlook Hotel from Stephen King’s The Shining. Yeah, now that would be cool!!
Q. I've never read any . Which of his books is your favorite or which do you recommend for a first time reader?
A. I believe Mr Banks hasn’t done well in the US, for some reason. His Use of Weapons is definitely a superb starting point, and he told me (at Worldcon, when we were both on the Orbit stand) that it was his own personal favourite. It’s certainly mine.
Q. Have you seen anything good on TV lately?
A. I tend to predominantly watch movies. Last night I enjoyed the absolutely superb . Wow. That was brilliant. One of the best films I’ve ever seen. I’m taking my little boy to see next week, and in the new year I’ll be checking out ’s new one, I Am Legend. Looking forward to that immensely. But TV? I enjoy re-runs of Friends. Is that sad? Probably.
Q. What do you want for ?
A. A new motorbike. A Ducati 749S. A red one. I’ve seen it. Seen her. God, she’s beautiful. Perfect. My eyes are gleaming. My hands are sweaty. And, despite my wife beating her handbag against the back of my stubborn thick skull, I do believe I’m going to have to buy her. And then ride her. A lot. Merry Christmas!!