So, having been tagged for the last Next Big Thing and duly completing ten questions about Marching Dead, I was tagged by the deeply sexy Jason Nahrung, and declined him, because I had nothing else to talk about. Then I finished Father Muerte & The Divine, just before I was tagged by the equally sexy Rowena Cory Daniells.

So here I am, talking about that book, too:

What is the working title of your next book?

Father Muerte and the Divine.

Where did the idea of your book come from?

I’ve explored the character of Father Muerte in four previous short stories: Father Muerte & The Theft (Aurealis 29); Father Muerte & The Rain (Aurealis 33/34/35 triple issue); Father Muerte & the Flesh (Aurealis 36) and Father Muerte & The Joy of Warfare (Aurealis 37). I’ve received a lot of feedback from readers wanting to know more about the character’s background, and wanting to see him interact with a larger story, so it was a good chance to go back into his past and expand upon the scope of his mystery, especially as I had a couple of breaks in my writing calendar where I could spend a goodly amount of time working on the story.

What genre does your book fall under?

Definitely fantasy, but more towards the Urban end of the spectrum rather than the epic. Except it takes place in a seaside town that may or may not exist. Is there such a thing as Holiday Village Fantasy?

If you found yourself in a lift with a movie director you admire and you had the chance to pitch your book to them, what would you say?

Now you’ve finished the Corpse-Rat King movie, Mister Gilliam, do you fancy a read of this one?

Every writer dreams of their book being turned into a movie or TV series like Game of Thrones: if this happened to your work, which actors would you choose to play your characters?

Like Game of Thrones? Do I have to? Sorry fans, but I couldn’t get past episode three. I don’t care how much you gussy it up, I can spot a soap opera when I see one.

However, when it comes to characters, I rarely picture a known face upon them. Occasionally, if I want a characters to continue to act in a certain way I’ll try it out– Captain Bomthe from the Corpse-Rat King was lightly modelled on Bill Nighy’s ‘uptight’ character. But not with these charatcers: I’ve been working with them, on and off, for a decade now. They have their own faces.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Love. I love Muerte, Henri and Benito. There’s a small core of readers who love the stories and keep nagging me for another one. And I loved the idea of doing something really spectacular with what had come before: this is the fifth instalment of the narrative, so I had some history to play with.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

It was written in two bursts of about a month each, a year apart. the first half was written whilst I was waiting for the Angry Robot Open Submission period was grinding its way to a conclusion, and then I had to drop it when they picked up CRK. Once I’d delivered Marching Dead it was just about time to start this year’s nanowrimo, and there I was with a novel needing roughly 50 000 words to finish it…

What other books would you compare this book to within your genre?

I’m not sure. If anything, it probably sits– in my mental image of it, at least– closest to those convoluted Grant Morrison ‘everything’s an illusion and a conspiracy and all your paranoias are just silly. And correct.’ comic book series, with a faint hint of Gaiman’s ‘Seasons of Mist’. But that’s not really it, either.

It’s just, I dunno, weird. And cool. And there’s sort of a Keith Laumer oddness to it, and a China Meiville Gothic urban-ness, and a rollicking Bester tongue-in-cheekness, and half the documentaries I’ve watched in the last six years contributed, and then there’s some stuff that’s probably just me having a mental seizure…. maybe I’m not the best person to answer this question.

When will your book be available?

I expect to deliver the synopses and 5 chapter package to SuperAgent Rich in the next couple of weeks, and then the rest is up to him.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Time-travelling Benito Mussolinis, a colony of hyper-intelligent dinosaur ghosts, live human skinning, the fall of Satan, Maxwell’s Demon, the Red Baron’s fetish for post-World War I biplanes, coelacanths, pareidolia, bit-culling souls, molybdomancy… what’s not to love?

Keen-eyed readers will note that I haven’t tagged five authors to continue the meme onwards. That’s because every author I know has done the damn thing and it’s all getting rather circular and incestuous. Consider me your cul-de-sac for the day.


Last week, the inimitable Steven Saviletagged me on his blog as part on an ongoing chain of book/author recommendations called The Next Big Thing, a happy reach-around for writers where we all stride about like avenging peacocks with ICBMs where our penises should be. Today it’s my turn to take possession of the giant cockmissile, and answer the ten questions originated by Paul Magrs, then pass over the reins to five other writers who will be doing the same on their own blogs in a week’s time. Ready?

What is the working title of your next book?
The Marching Dead

Where did the idea come from for the book?
It’s the sequel to The Corpse-Rat King, which came out this October from Angry RobotBooks.

What genre does your book fall under?
Loosely under Fantasy, although very much at the absurdist end of the genre. Angry Robot claim they publish “SF, F and WTF?” I’m aiming for “WTF?”

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I don’t really envisage actors when I’m writing characters, at least, I do so very rarely. There was one character in the first Marius dos Hellespont novel who I based on Bill Nighy’s ‘uptight’ characterisation because it was a nice fit, but that’s as far as it went for these two novels.  If you absolutely had to have an answer, I’d say perhaps Paterson Joseph for Marius, but that’s all I’ve got.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
He found a King, won the girl, and saved the day. If it wasn’t the end of the world as we know it, he’d be bored shitless by now.

Which is 2 sentences, but sue me.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
As with the first novel in the series, Marching Dead will be published by AngryRobot Books, in April 2013. It was represented by the tall, virile and generally froody Richard Henshaw of The Henshaw Group.

How long did it take you to write a first draft of the manuscript?
I completed the first draft in a shade under 5 months. It’s currently with the publisher, who has probably had to call out for more red ink by now.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
That’s a hard one: I actually don’t read a huge amount of fantasy. The Corpse-Rat King seems to have collected a bunch of comparisons to Joe Abercrombie, so let’s say that.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
 A contract that said “two books, with an option on a third”.

The Corpse-Rat King was inspired by a dinner table conversation with a good friend in which we bemoaned the soft-focus, taking-itself-way-too-seriously, hyper-hygienic worlds of too many Fantasy novels. CRK was an attempt to subvert those tropes, and Marching Dead was a good opportunity to introduce a different tone into the world I had created, and push the characters into states of mind they hadn’t experienced in the first novel.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Anybody who read and enjoyed the first novel will—hopefully—enjoy the chance to meet with some characters alluded to in the first book, particularly Marius’ parents, plus there’s a randy smuggler queen with a patch and an undead dominatrix with a degree in gymnastics and a really really big tub of goose grease. And Gerd loses his virginity. And if you didn’t read the first book, and that makes no sense at all to you, then you’ll be pleased to learn that Marching Dead stands alone as a separate adventure, and you’ll get to experience all this sort of thing for the first time. And, as usual, everybody says fuck far too often for their own good.

And finally: A reminder… (the 5 who will be tagged)
In the interests of sharing the pimp—and really, isn’t that what life is all about?—I shall be tagging the sensational KA Bedford, Stephen Dedman, Wesley Chu, Daniel Russell, and Guy Salvidge. They may have already done this—I was too slack to check. They may not wish to be involved—I was too self-involved to ask. They may be dead—I was at home with my wife and she’ll vouch for me. But won’t it be fun to come back to their blogs in a week and see if they join in?