What was the most fun writing for Blindspace?
The banter between all the characters! Watching them snark and bounce off each other in different ways revealed aspects of their character and developed their characters in ways I completely planned and also didn’t expect at all. There’s a scene on a spaceship where the two alien characters are engaged in a lively argument that was damn fun to write. Also, there’s an action set-piece about one third of the way into the book that I adored writing because of how crazy and frenetic it is. You’ll know it when you see it.
How far along are you with book 3?
I’m about a little less than halfway through the first draft in terms of story completion. But I expect to have a lot of redrafting and rewriting to do once I cross the finish line, which is normal for me. Drafting is shoving all the sand into the sand pit. Rewriting is deciding how much of that sand I actually need. Editing is building the sand castle.
Have you changed a lot in the trilogy since the initial idea?
Absolutely. I wrote Book 1 with little more than a broad outline of events, Vakov’s character and conflicts, the location of Compass, and the central idea, intending to create a first-person, SF noir adventure set in space. Now, it’s morphed into a fully fledged far-flung space opera, with an ensemble cast of rogues and misfits, going up against genocidal alien empires and murdering space cults. Wasn’t expecting that to happen. It was only about halfway through the first book where I realised how big this story could become, and I’m very happy where it’s ended up. I write my stories the way I think they need to be written, and Vakov’s adventure demanded to become a bigger, widescreen space opera (while still keeping the close, visceral focus on character and voice).
Would you and Vakov get along?
Definitely. We’d do a pub crawl and get drunk as hell. He’d get us into trouble, but he’d always be there to get me out of it. He just needs a loyal friend and a home to call his own.
Have you taken any big risks with your writing that have paid off?
Yes: with Vakov Fukasawa! Writing a flawed, violent protagonist who had a streak of an antihero about him, but was still someone who had an emotional depth and connection to those he loved, would be a challenge to nail down, and even harder to sell to audiences as a debut author. Especially since all my previous characters were far more “likeable” and less flawed. But I think Vakov is a far more interesting and complex figure. He’s a brutal, aggressive creature, filled with rage and hatred, with seriously questionable morals and a savage loathing of authority. He’s stubborn, rash, and occasionally arrogant. But he’s never pretended to be anything else, to himself or anyone around him. He knows he’s got to do bad things, to keep the other bad people on the right side of the door. But he’s always willing to hear other people out when he’s screwed up, and he’s always looking for ways to improve.
I think that makes for a character that not everyone will warm up to or even like, but that’s fine. I wanted to have a flawed, complex and well-rounded character and judging by readers’ reactions, I’ve succeeded (I hope!).
What word describes you best?
Rascal. It was my nickname when I was a kid. I can’t imagine why!
I was going to ask, tea or coffee? BUT your FAQ implies coffee is the answer. SO, what is the best coffee?
Cappuccino, no sugar. Coffee beans with a strong caramel flavour and a hint of chocolate. Served steaming hot.
Favourite dish? (That you can cook.)
At the moment, I’m very fond of Japanese Katsu Curry. I like cooking it to be full-bodied, bursting with flavour with a thick, creamy texture. Serve it with a nice American-style IPA and fluffy rice.
What is your favourite thing to recommend for someone to try? (Book, TV, Film, Food, pastime, etc – any of these or something else you can think of.)
Depends on the person! I frequently try to persuade folks to watch The Expanse, if they’re into sci-fi, because no one I know has watched it, and considering it’s the arguably the best TV series to be set in space of all time (I’ll die on this hill), that’s a damn shame. If SF ain’t their thing, I recommend Money Heist, which is phenomenal. In books, I’m a devout Red Rising fan, and I’m always trying to convert folks to the Howlers side!
And finally, what’s the question you wish people would ask but never do?
I wish people would ask how much of Vakov comes from me, since so many folks already assume that I am like Vakov. And if that were remotely true, I’d have ended up in jail a long time ago!
Or maybe I’m just very good at hiding it….