Monday, 10 November 2014

Interview with Author Ian Douglas

How does a typical book get written in your world - what do you start with?

A lot of coffee and chocolate. No, not really. It starts with the germ of an idea and a lot of thinking. Plots start to drift into sight. A sequence of events synch together. Characters emerge and grow before my eyes. Sometimes I take notes. I do a lot of research. The unwritten book gathers momentum in my imagination.

How would you compare the protagonists of your books with yourself?

Every major character must have a shred of me in them. So I can empathise and get inside their heads. Then I’m able to write them. Predict their emotions, draft their dialogue and so on. Even the villains have a tiny bit of me. But they are also their own people. I’m not a power crazed bad guy bent of world domination. I’m not a feisty young girl with kick-ass moves.
Someone asked me if my characters were real to me. I’m not sure what that means. I don’t lose sight of the fact they are fictitious. I don’t talk to them before I go to bed at night. But I’m thinking about them all the time. The more you think the more you see.
‘Ah, yes they’d hold hands at that moment’ or ‘he’ll get angry now because it reminds him of his missing father’ etc.

How would you typically choose the names of your characters?

Depends on the work. Is it for adults of children? Is it set today or in the far future.
The Infinity Trap is set in a fantasy world of a futuristic, terra-formed Mars. This gives me a lot of licence to have fun. So, taking a leaf out of the Harry Potter books, they have larger than life names: Tiberius Magma, Isla the Incisor, Ptolemy Cusp. Names convey messages about what the characters are. My hero’s name Zeke Hailey for example. The first name is chosen to denote he’s young and cool. The family name reflects the spacey nature of the book. As in Haley’s comet. But it also has a secret significance that will be come clear in the fifth and final instalment.

What's that one Classic work that you wish had been written by you?

Oh Lord, so many! The Hobbit? Shadow over Innsmouth? Anything by Ray Bradbury.

How would you deal with reviews?

Well, there’s not much to do other than read them. If they are positive I am pleased, naturally. I haven’t really had negative reviews for the Infinity Trap. I take them with a pinch of salt. One guy emailed me to say he hated the cover. But 10 people loved it. I passed his views onto my editor anyway.
What’s most important to me is the opinions of young readers. The target audience. So far they seem devour the book and can’t wait for the sequel (out next April). When they feed this back to me, well, I’m thrilled.

What's your favourite writing location?

Um, I only have one. How many is the average? In my studio, surrounded by paraphernalia to inspire me.

What awesome books and projects are you working in at the moment?

Book two of the Zeke Hailey series, Gravity’s Eye, is with the publisher and awaiting editing. So I’m pressing on with book three. New monsters. New villains. Secrets revealed. Mysteries thickening. Danger everywhere! It’s a lot of fun.

I get asked to do all kinds of things as writer. I was asked this year to write a script for an anthology of graphic stories about World War 1. Mine was called ‘Dead in the Water’. And when I saw the artist’s realisation of my story I was blown away. His work was so striking and dramatic and yet so nailed my script. Things like that make it worthwhile.

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