Ten years have passed since the Axleth invaded Earth and a few hundred humans escaped aboard the ship Athena, piloted by the Artificial Intelligence who calls himself Ares. Now, the refugees approach Earth, determined to take back their home. But something has followed them from deep in space, and as war breaks out on Earth, humanity must decide who is the real enemy.
– When and where do you prefer to write?
I write in my kitchen in the dead of morning anytime from 4:30am onwards, then move into brasseries in Paris, occasionally lifting my head to watch the world flow by. I’m kidding, I don’t raise my head until it’s time to pay.
– Do you have a certain ritual?
Not really, I wait until an idea has built, then I sit down and type. If I don’t have the idea, the sense of the mood in the chapter, and a sense of urgency to get it down, I don’t write anything. I know some people write every day no matter what, but it doesn’t work for me.
– Is there a drink or some food that keeps you company while you write?
Tea before the brasseries open, then coffee (they still don’t know how to make a decent cup of tea in France, bless them!). Coffee is usually a noisette, aka a macchiato espresso. 4 espressos = one draft chapter.
– What is your favourite book?
Lord of the Rings. It’s not scifi I know, but it gripped me completely. And there’s a darkness there (he fought in WWI) that I can relate to, counter-pointed by an almost superhuman belief in the goodness in humanity, if you can dig deep enough.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
I also write thrillers under a mild pseudonym (J F Kirwan).
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
Yes, even though it has gotten me into trouble in the past… People don’t always appreciate the way I write them. But then I only use them as an anchor, changing their character significantly. It’s like giving them an alternate universe makeover. Maybe they appreciate it in those alternative universes…
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
No, but I have my phone so can take notes on that. But the first time I get an idea I don’t run up to it. It’s like getting close to a wild animal. At first you have to pretend you don’t see it, so you don’t scare it away. Then it comes closer, and you get to see more detail. Then, quietly, you begin to sketch it.
– Which genre do you not like at all?
Romance. I just don’t get it, lol, though there is plenty of love and ‘heart’ in my novels, so I’m told. People sometimes cry when reading my novels. A reviewer told me she broke down while on a computer train while reading Eden’s Endgame, when one of the heroes got killed. I’ll share a secret. I cry too when I re-read that chapter.
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
Kip Thorne right now, as he’s the Nobel physicist behind Interstellar, but otherwise Jack McDevitt or Greg Bear for scifi, Lee Child or David Baldacci for thrillers.
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
Russia, Moscow in particular, because a few years ago I hung out with some Russians in Egypt while diving there, and they’re just bloody fascinating. They also do a lot of space-faring and don’t make such a song and dance about it (Greg Bear also put them into one of his novels), and meeting those Russians inspired me to write three thrillers with a Russian heroine. Imagine if I actually went there…
Thank you, Barry Kirwan and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
I grew up in Farnborough, England, home to the fast-jet Red Arrows, and started writing when still at school, a weekly satirical thriller called the Adventures of Blackie the Cat for my classmates. I then got hooked on academic writing for my day job (preventing disasters in nuclear power plants, oil rigs and aircraft) and published four text books on human error. It wasn’t until I moved to Paris that I started writing fiction again, with the Eden Paradox released in 2011. It was intended to be a one-off, but I got a lot of fans demanding more, and so it went ‘epic’, a space opera of four books.
After an accident with my back and two subsequent operations, I was laid up for a long while and couldn’t scuba dive – my other passion – so I wrote a thriller about a spy who was also a scuba diver, and the Nadia Laksheva series was (to my amazement at the time) snapped up by HarperCollins. They asked me to use a pseudonym, which is where the initials J F came from, borrowed from my late father, who loved thrillers.
Although I keep my work and fiction separate (some of my colleagues aren’t convinced) the fiction is always influenced by my psychological training, and an unending fascination with how the mind works, and how it can go off the rails. This most clearly comes out in my two new series, Greg Adams (The Dead Tell Lies) and Children of the Eye (When the Children Come).
My favourite scifi authors range from Asimov and Clarke, to Brin, McDevitt, Hamilton, Asher and Reynolds. My favourite thriller writers are Baldacci, Child and Nesbo. My favourite moment as an author is when I’m sitting with my laptop with an espresso macchiato, wondering what comes next in a story, when suddenly it arrives, and I can’t type fast enough.
Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B099GSNK9H
Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B099GSNK9H