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Monday, October 12, 2009

Interview with Andy Remic (Interviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Andy Remic Website
Order "Kell's Legend" HERE
Read FBC Review of "Kell's legend" HERE

1] Your fantasy debut, "Kell's Legend" has been published. In your own words, how would you describe "Kell's Legend", and what were you trying to accomplish with the book?

AR: Kell's Legend is about a small group of characters who have to face overwhelming odds. It's about a grandfather's love for his granddaughter. It's about how people often have an evil, dark past which comes back to bite them. And it's about clockwork vampires, baby, clockwork vampires!

2] As readers may or may not know, "Kell's Legend" is not your first novel. You are already a published author with five books. Could you tell us about them and yourself as well? Correspondingly how did you feel about this move to the fantastic side of the speculative fiction genre?

AR: I'm just a regular guy, who's been writing since I was about 7 years old. I write because I love it, you get to play "God", and I never believed I would get published. I am living proof that being stubborn, and learning your craft, can eventually get you into the business. It took me ten years to get published, but you need that learning curve, I think. A writer continually improves, and never, ever stops.

My first three books are my SPIRAL trilogy. They are out and out action thrillers, with only a taste of SF elements and starring a schizophrenic psychopathic anti-hero, Carter, and his alter-ego, Kade – who always gets the job done when things turn bad. Think Tom Clancy without the long boring bits, and with lots of guns, motorbikes and explosions. James Bond on mescaline!

My Combat K books are kick-ass rollercoaster action-adventure SF extravaganzas. They involve a corrupt and slightly insane combat squad who go on a variety of deadly missions and wreak planet-wide havoc. There is Keenan, the straight guy tortured by the death of his kids; Franco, the sexually perverse mad ginger nutcase with a love of German sausages; and Pippa, slightly deranged sword-wielding man-hater, and the toughest Lara-Croft type woman ever written! This series begins with War Machine, an SF action thriller, then Biohell, a zombie SF action thriller, and the new one out January 2010 is Hardcore, a medically deviant SF action thriller.

With regards moving over to fantasy, I began by writing fantasy. But after a few SF books it was hard for me to effectively switch genres; you start to get pigeon-holed and you have a "fan base". To switch genres is to, partially at least, begin again. But writing fantasy as opposed to SF was something I needed to do; a splinter in my brain I had to eject.

3] Can you tell us more about the world that "Kell's Legend" is set in and some of the book's major characters?

AR: Kell's Legend is set within a typical fantasy setting, vast arenas of mountains and forests, very much like Lord of the Rings. However, beyond the northern Black Pike Mountains exist a race of deviated vampires, reliant on advanced clockwork technology and the narcotic of refined blood, blood-oil. What makes the vachine vampiric is their "drug" dependency.

Major characters? We have Kell, standard hulking axe man, retired soldier who has left behind a life of violence. We have his granddaughter Nienna, sweet and innocent and bored with college. She wants adventure! And we have Saark, a dandy, a womanizer, effeminate and in love with perfume, silk and sexual congress. Kell and Saark immediately hate one another, for they are polar opposites, and yet are forced into an unholy alliance against General Graal – twisted albino vachine – and his invasion force of albino soldiers.

4] In speculative fiction, arguably more so than other genres, cover art is very important. How important is cover art to you and how do you feel about the cover for "Kell's Legend".

AR: I love the cover art for Kell's Legend. I mean, love it. All the time I see esoteric cover artwork which hints at the content with a rolling landscape, or the hint of a fortress. These are fine; subtle and beautiful, much of the time. However I like my artwork big and brutal. I love axe men. I love weapons of war. I love conflict. My book is about a big ****-off axe man with a big ****-off axe. And that's what the cover depicts. At least with my books, you know what you're getting!

5] What is your daily writing schedule like? And which kind of school of writing do you prefer [Outlining or free-writing]?

AR: I used to write long into the night. Then I had kids. Now I write around the kids, i.e. when they are at school or in bed. I can pretty much write anywhere, to be honest; on the train, in the pub, in the garden. I can just switch my mind and drop into the "world" like a bomb into a gravity well. I finished War Machine in the Ardlui, in Scotland, on New Year's Eve. That was magical.

With regards outlining, I do outline my tales but often digress and then change the plot entirely. I do a bit of both, I suppose. I love the freedom of free-writing, but I usually have a structure (in my head, at least). Like any journey, you need to know where you're going or it's easy to get bloody lost in the desert.

6] Who are your literary icons? The ones who set you on to the writing path & currently amongst your contemporaries who are the select few that you would like the readers to know more about?

AR: My Icons are (in no particular order): David Gemmell, Iain Banks, J. R. R. Tolkien, Michael Moorcock, George Orwell, Ernest Hemmingway, Terry Pratchett, Phil Dick, James Herbert, and Stephen King.

The Contemporaries whom I admire the most are: Ian Graham, James Lovegrove, Eric Brown, Tony Ballantyne, Ken MacLeod, Charlie Stross, Gail Z. Martin, Mark C. Newton … I could go on for a while here.

7] I had read that you had met David as a fan in the late 1980s, could tell us more about this event & its significance to you.

AR: I started corresponding with David Gemmell after reading Waylander, in, ohh about 1989 or 1990. I must have about fifteen letters from him, and I used to send him a review after every new novel came out explaining (in all my naivet̩) what worked and what didn't, for me as a reader. I met him at a couple of book signings, and then went down (in about 2004, I think) with my mate Ian Graham (author of the cracking Monument) and we went back to Dave's hotel after his mega-signing (there were hundreds there) and enjoyed much to drink. David was kind enough to kind of take us under his wing, and give lots of advice about the writing industry Рabout editors, agents, publishing conglomerates, all that kind of stuff. It was a surreal experience. I think I got home about 6am.

8] What other activities or hobbies do you enjoy?

AR: Kick-boxing, running, mountain biking, mountain climbing, reading (obviously), playing with my ace little boys, travel, cooking (I cook a mean chili/curry), music. Just normal stuff. I've also recently started a bit of amateur film-making, and it's great fun. As New Model Army sing, "There's always something new to fall in love with".

9] What can you tell us about the books which are forthcoming after KL namely Soul Stealers & Vachine?

AR: Mouth. Tight. Shut. I have a big flapping mouth and I flap it way too much. But on these upcoming novels, I will remain silent. I've just finished the first draft of Soul Stealers, and, err, it rocks. But then, I'm biased right? All you need to know is that it takes the Kell's Legend formula, turns it up a few notches into the red, and then turns a few concepts on their heads. And Vachine? It's going to be the most insane rollercoaster fantasy-ride you will ever read. Haha!

10] To any new reader who hasn't read any of your previous books, what would you say about them and your writing so as to draw them to give your books a try!

AR: I put my passion, heart and soul into every book. I have a very low boredom threshold, so I always have a lot of action, and twists, and black comedy. If I get bored writing, then the reader will sure be bored reading – so I always steam and smash ahead, and try and give pretty good bang per buck. I would describe all my books as an intense experience. Readers seem to either love my work, or hate it … but at least they never ignore it! Banality is a crime.

11] This book is dedicated to David Gemmell & as there have been a couple of reviews on Amazon slating you about copying his books, would you like to set the record straight about what KL is & isn't?

AR: I'll just let the readers decide, to be honest. I know in my heart I didn't "rip him off", and I like to think he would have enjoyed my tale. He was a very generous man. And anyway – did Dave have a book about clockwork vampires?

12] The concept of "Vachines" is a very cool reworking & mixing of Vampires & machines, what was the spark that lead to this creation?

AR: For a long time I wanted to write a vampire story, but every idea I had, I threw it out because it had all been done before. I wanted a completely different angle. Writing the Combat K books, I had quite a few cyborg-type creatures in the mix, and one day I thought to myself - what if vampires were vampires because they were part-machine? But you can't have cyborgs in a fantasy novel. So I hunted around for suitable technology – and thought that watch- and clock-making was a feasible technology to extend in a fantasy environment. Then Donna Scott at a small magazine called Visionary Tongue asked me to write a short story, so I used it as a test-bed to play around with the idea of clockwork vampires. I used Pippa, one of my lead characters from my Combat K books, and what emerged was a story I liked very much. I thought: I must expand this universe. Which leads us very neatly to this book.

13] What are your thoughts on The David Gemmell Legend award instituted last year & how would you feel if your book gets nominated for it?

AR: I think the DGLA is a brilliant idea, run by people who are passionate about the whole Gemmell universe. Stan Nicholls (cool writer, and author of Orcs) asked me to attend this year, but my mom was ill so I had to bow out, which was a great shame. I know the DGLA will go from strength to strength with every passing year, and wish it great success. It's done for all the right reasons, and is a great celebration of the Man Himself.

With regards nominations – it would, of course, be an honor. However, I write for my fans, my readers, and the thought of awards never enters my head. To the left, you'll notice the huge stack of Hugos on my mantelpiece – haha, no, that would never happen. Me and awards – they don't seem to mesh. I think my stuff is usually a bit too hardcore and extreme.

14] You have remarked on your blog that your fav. DG book is the"Lion of Macedon", could you expand a bit on your choice & what makes this one tickle your brain a bit more than the rest?

AR: I think Lion of Macedon is the perfect fantasy book. I love how DG took a little-known General, Parmenion, and worked him into the whole Greek history and legend. However, it's also the little things that make the book so perfect – the pacing, the ongoing love story, brilliant characterization and dialogue, and the absolutely superb battles using the military units of the time. LOM rises to the perfect climax, with the birth of Alexander the Great embodying a dark god. Just – well, perfect.

15] The proverbial question which came to my mind on completing this book were how different Kell & Druss were, not in respect to their axes & devastating abilities but in their mindset! Care to give your thoughts on it & how did you go about visualizing Kell & his past history?

AR: I kind of took Druss as a basis for my Kell character – an old, retired soldier with a large battle axe. However, as you write any book a character always develops much further, and even though Kell's axe, Ilanna, does seem at first to be possessed in a similar manner to Snaga, there is a massive, massive difference. Also, the "possession" (the truth of which is not revealed until the end of the third book) is more of a reworking of my SPIRAL book's Carter/Kade symbiotic reliance. Kell and Ilanna are more closely related than just warrior and axe. As you will see.

And Kell's past history gets much darker in Soul Stealers. You'll have to read it, mate.

16] What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? What about weaknesses or areas that you'd like to get stronger in?

AR: I am still learning. I will always be learning. Any writer who says otherwise is a liar. My strengths? Fast pace, tight plotting, good dialogue, realistic characters, lack of bullshit. Weaknesses? I have been known to take too long to get the main plot going (although not, like some other SFF writers I could mention, 200-odd pages!!). I am also off-key with some of my humor. And, err, I have been known to put too much gratuitous sex, violence and bad language in my books. You can thank James Herbert for that one!! And I have also been known to get mad at critics, which was bad and wrong. Haha. Hell, I've chilled out now; I recognize that it's all a marketplace, and everybody has a viewpoint, and every viewpoint is valid, even if somebody says your book is crap. It's just all part of the sweet game J.

17] What books have recently impressed you the most, what are you currently reading, and what titles are you most looking forward to?

AR: I'm currently reading James Lovegrove's Age of Ra. And it's absolutely brilliant. I've also been reading an early draft of Ian Graham's new (as yet unpublished) novel in our secretive "Stinklings" sessions, and that, too, is awesome. Wait till it's published!! It rocks. I'm also reading Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, which is just plain funny. Bryson always makes me laugh. He is a witty fellow.

18] In the end what can we as readers expect from Andy Remic in the future & is there anything else you'd like to say to your fans?

AR: To my fans? You mean I have fans? That's a surreal thought. I am an unashamed fanboy – of Gemmell, Banks, Star Wars, Bladerunner, Red Dwarf … err, I'd have to say thank you for buying the books, and I hope you enjoy the next ones!! I genuinely give each book everything I've got.

In the future? Soul Stealers, Vachine and the next Combat K novel, Hardcore, are all out in 2010. Then, hopefully, another three fantasy books in the same "clockwork" universe as Kell's Legend will follow (I have six planned in my head), another Combat K novel, Ganger (I have many of those planned in my head, they are awesome fun to write) and I'm also dabbling with some Nazi zombie stuff, and some more SPIRAL novels! Busy busy, yes? Watch this space!!


Emperor said...

Wow. That is an awesome take on Vampiric Lore. Very Prolific. God...yet another book to add to my list. I think however, it moves directly to position #2...

Good advice. Being a writer myself, I get dissuaded alot by situations. Or the fact that Im not published...or the fact that no one reads my stuff!



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