I seriously have the best job in the world. I get to meet authors from around the world and interview them. I never know where the conversation will take us but I know I’m always in for an adventure. Such is the case with my meeting Andrew. Take a look at his picture and he looks like someone you wouldn’t want to meet in an alley: intimidating, serious and a steely gaze. But underneath that lies a funny, sometimes wacky guy. So, please sit down, grab your favorite beverage and get to know Andrew P. Weston. Take it away, Andrew:
What is your writing process?
Some might think my writing process is quite laborious or complex, as it incorporates a great deal of preparation prior to ever putting fingers to keypad, so I’ll simplify it – hopefully – by briefly explaining what I did for The IX Series.
Having devised a concept, I undertook roughly three months of in-depth research. Once completed, I then reworked that material, but this time, targeted specifics and looked how I could blend all the disparate parts together. (Don’t forget, in the IX Series, there’s a complex evolution of Roman Legionaries, US cavalry troopers, near-future British Special Forces, alien worlds and advanced technology brought together in a crucible of war). Obviously, such a mass of information required a thorough world building phase, by which I ensured to balance science fiction with current – and theoretical – science fact.
I know that sounds a lot, but putting the effort in before you actually start writing, pays dividends later. It gives you a solid foundation on which to build, and a wealth of information that you can dip into when you need to add depth and clarity to all sorts of little facets that will make your overall project shine.
To ensure this happens, I adopt a multi-layered “flow chart” approach, using bubbles or complete sheets of paper.
The launch is quite simple. I have my theme, the beginning, end, and ports of call along the way that the plot-line will need to visit. Each of those gets its own bubble.
Now I start to add detail. As the next wave progresses, each major bubble is divided into its own subsection, containing major and minor modules. Every one of them helps develop the current I want the story to follow, along with the subsidiary threads I need to weave in and out and through the text to help the plot and characters flow together smoothly.
My main chart starts to look like a many-footed spider/water skimmer. (Get the idea?) But it ensures I stay focused on what the story is all about, and helps me develop components that add depth, width, height and texture to the world I’m creating.
I enjoy using this method because stories often take on life all of their own. As the process unfurls, you think of additional ideas, twists and turns. When that happens, I can look to my spider web network of bubbles and see how and when new facets can be added in, or – as sometimes happens where you need to ensure continuity – where it might be better to adjust an earlier scene to graft your fresh thought into the story-line properly. I like my adventures to flow.
This technique works for me, and ensures the plot-line stays free of eddies or logjams.
As I say, it sounds complicated, but it’s a method I always use. Then, by simply devising a schedule, and ensuring to complete a unit every day, I am able to complete lengthy novels in six months or less.
When it comes to formatting, I carry out a light edit at the end of every chapter, and then complete a more thorough edit and style check upon completion of an entire first draft. Then it’s off to our real editor smiles and a celebratory glass of Smirnoff Black before we start picking everything to bits.
Do you have any odd writing habits?
I know some authors love to listen to music, or have other things going on in the background, but me? I need silence. Without it, the magic doesn’t flow.
What book do you wish you could have written?
Good question. The answer? To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.
I don’t know about you, but a tiny part of me imagines what it would be like to ever only have to write one book. This wonder of a novel took the globe by storm: films; Broadway and the West End; part of the school curriculum all over the world. (I actually studied this story for college exams in the UK back in the 70’s).
And what a story it was. I loved the mood and mystery of it and the way it dared to touch on prejudices and perceptions that are just as valid today as they were then: class; race; tolerance; and the loss of innocence. Superb. No wonder Harper Lee left off completing a sequel for so many decades.
Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you?
My goodness, another excellent question. Although I’m a science-fiction aficionado, and astronomy and physics graduate, I’m widely read, and over the years have gained inspiration from all sorts of places.
We could be here all day, so I’ve listed just a few of them:
A Fall of Moondust – Arthur C. Clarke: An excellent short story for its time, that presented the dangers of traveling into space – albeit our nearest neighbour – in a very realistic way. It’s not all shiny spacesuits and pristine ships. When things go wrong, will we be prepared?
(A thing to ponder on as we stand at the cusp of true space exploration).
I Robot – Isaac Asimov: My, oh my. Now there’s a topic that’s going to become ever more prevalent in the next few decades as technological sophistication increases beyond what we’ve ever imagined. Many think of The Terminator or The Matrix when perilous AI matrices run amok. But I Robot did it first, and decades before either of them. smiles
Animal Farm & Nineteen Eighty-Four– George Orwell: A superb example of someone who wasn’t afraid to use allegorical text to expose the deeply-embedded shortcomings continuing to plague society in general. We can still learn a lot from such illuminated minds…talking of which…
The Fall of the House of Usher – and many, many other works – Edgar Allen Poe: The workings of a dark and troubled mind revealed in all its genius. I’ve published quite a bit of poetry myself, and so far as I’m concerned, Poe is the source muse of some of the most exquisite torment available today – this side of a padded cell. Come swing with me in insanity…Brilliant.
A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawkin: I could read his work for hours. (And do, actually). Informative, imaginative, innovative, and inspirational.
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever – Stephen R. Donaldson: A Master wordsmith and demigod of the slow build-up.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
To have my work recognized by Nebula Award winners and some of the leading lights of speculative fiction (Black Gate Fantasy, Amazing Stories, Fanboy Comics, This Dark Matter, Epicstream) and then to be compared to such greats as, Robert A. Heinlein, Jerry Pournelle, and Gordon Dickson.
A great honor that also brings a great deal of pressure with it, but it spurs me on to excel nonetheless.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Writing full time and keeping my publisher – Janet Morris at Perseid Press – overwhelmingly busy, but very happy. smiles
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Don’t be afraid of taking risks and developing your own unique style. Allow others to hear your distinctive voice. Then work closely with your publisher and editor in striving for excellence.
Are you a plotter or a pantster?
I’ve found a combination of both works for me. I research and plan meticulously before I begin to write. (I’m already world building a future work that I won’t even get to for at least 18 months).
But, as I’ve often found, as each story develops a character all of its own, it also generates a distinctive current. I’ve learned to allow that current to take where it will, and have enjoyed all sorts of unexpected plot twists and turns because of it. Great fun.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
Exordium of Tears is my third novel for Perseid Press, (and the second book of The IX Series). I’ve also contributed to two of their anthologies within the Heroes in Hell shared universe. So far, each of my novels managed to reach #1 internationally. I hope to continue that trend as my writing improves.
What are you working on now? What is your next project?
At this very moment, I’m about halfway (75K) through the concluding story of the first IX trilogy. After that, I’ll be onto the final book of another trilogy I devised detailing the exploits of Daemon Grim, Satan’s chief bounty hunter and go-to guy in times of need. As well as being despicably dark and dangerous, it’s full of fast and furious fun.
That one doesn’t have a series name as each novel forms part of Janet Morris’ Heroes in Hell shared universe. I look on such an inclusion as a great honour, as you can only contribute by invitation and the Heroes in Hell stable includes Hugo Award winners and Nebula nominees.
An interesting point of note, is when Janet saw my work and extended an invitation to write for her, we devised a concept by which Daemon Grim’s adventures would leapfrog the yearly Heroes in Hell anthologies.
For example, Grim was introduced to the world in 2015 in Doctors in Hell. The exploits contained in Hell Bound – the first Reaper novel – follow on directly after Doctors. This year’s anthology – Pirates in Hell – takes place in the three months following the events described in Hell Bound. So you get the idea. We thought it would be a nice way to introduce a new character into a long-established universe, and so far, it looks to have proven worth the juggling.
Do you write naked?
Only if you call baring your soul in prose, writing naked?
What is the biggest fib you’ve ever told?
That I was Patrick Stewart’s butt stunt double. “Make it so…and make it slappy.”
Have you ever been in trouble with the law?
Actually…yes I have. I served in the UK’s Special & Elite Forces for nine years. After leaving the military, I became a cop. Because of my previous occupation, I was chosen to work undercover quite a few times. It seems I was rather convincing in whatever role I needed to play, because whenever we initiated a sting involving other officers from out of area who didn’t know me, I would be one of the first guy’s they’d jump on and arrest. (And my mother thought I had such an honest face). You ought to see some of the arrest photos smiles
“But officer…It wasn’t me; it was the one-armed man…”
Have you ever gotten into a fight?
As a child, less times than you’d think. I came from a disciplined background/family, you see, and was into a lot of pre and after school sports.
By far the biggest influence on my life was from the family of my best friend growing up, Lei. His father was from Japan, and his mother, China. (People don’t realize how unusual such a marriage was in the 60’s). They introduced me to true martial arts at the tender age of just 5, and I ended up becoming very involved in one disciple in particular. (Just enter a Google search under Andrew Paul Weston – Ju Jitsu – You’ll get a shock smiles) It kept me out of a lot of trouble…until I was an adult, then the government paid me a lot of money to be aggressive on their behalf. (Ah, the life insurance business isn’t what it used to be).
Do you drink? Smoke? What’s your vice?
I’ve never smoked. I enjoy vodka at the end of every book I write, and on special occasions, (Or when England and Wales play the noble sport of rugby). And my biggest vice is…I spend a fortune feeding stray cats, and have adopted quite a few of them, (especially over here in Greece where morons like to use them as target practice). All together now…aaaah!
What do you want your tombstone to say?
The one that got away.
What literary character is most like you?
The Mad Hatter.
What secret talents do you have?
I can hold my breath until it hurts.
What’s on your bucket list (things to do before you die)?
To find the secret of eternal life and unashamed beauty.
Do you have any scars? What are they from?
Sadly, I have many of them and they’re all over my body. As I mentioned, I served in a specialized military role, after which I became a police officer. I have been shot, stabbed, slashed, blown up and spoken to in a harsh and derogatory fashion by some of the nastiest people you could ever wish NOT to meet. You amass a few scars along the way. I lived to tell the tale, and even picked up a few more in hospital recovering. smiles Fortunately, I love hospital food.
Unfortunately, doctors discovered I have a resistance to morphine based pain control…Just as well I still have my teddy bear from when I was a baby boy…(A man needs something to hold onto when he cries) Hee hee.
What were you like as a child? Your favorite toy?
Utterly charming. You’d want to take me home.
And my favourite toy was the above teddy. (It caused a few minor scuffles when I got to my teens, but what the heck?)
His name? Ted. Yes, I put a tremendous amount of thought into naming him.
What do you dream? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?
Actually, you’ve touched on a subject very dear to my heart.
From a very early age I’ve been able to control and manipulate my dreams.
I don’t know if that’s anything to do with growing up in an honest-to-God, haunted house as a child, or the fact that I’m plain and simple weird. In any event, what I’m about to say is fact.
My recurring dreams started not long after we moved into the aforementioned house. I was 3, and by the end of the first week, I knew I’d fallen asleep by the fact that I’d find myself gliding along a darkened, underground passage full of staring glowing eyes. The corridor was damp, overgrown with moss, and whispering voices would call out to me, asking, “Who are you, what’s your name? What do you want?” over and over again. I could feel the slightest brush of fingertips graze along the back of my clothing and hair. At first, it was like a nightmare, because I knew as long as I kept looking forward, I’d be alright.
Eventually, I’d reach the end of the tunnel and I’d fly out into the night from the back of the house into whatever adventure my subconscious had stored up for me.
But here’s the thing. My dreams would start in the exact same way, each and every night. And it went on this way for a couple of years.
As I got older, my later dreams became darker, too, and I’d be chased by what I called the spinning blades.
If you look at the triskelion emblem used by the Isle of Man (A small island off the coast of England) you’ll get an idea what I’m talking about. Except that the three legs of this thing were covered in blades – much like those on a chainsaw.
Anyway, I’d be having a normal dream, and this thing would appear out of nowhere and begin pursing me wherever I went. No matter how far or fast I went, it was always right behind.
That fun addition went on for several more years.
One day – I think I was about 8 at the time – I’d had enough. In the tunnel, I made a conscious effort to stop my forward motion and turned around to face whatever kept calling out to me. For the first week or so, the voices fell silent and the eyes would simply stare back. Then I decided to run at the eyes. When I did that, they fled.
Enjoying my success, I plucked up the courage to do the same with the spinning blades. Sure enough, they shattered the first time I turned to confront them.
After that, the eyes and blades only ever came if I felt the need of a bit of excitement. (You know the way cats like to run after each other?) Sometimes, I’d feel like a bit of a chase, and ended up enjoying thrill after thrill as I overcame whatever obstacles were in my way and the blades just behind. (In the end, I’d will 3 or 4 different sets into being at the same time).
Yes, it sounds a strange thing for a child to enjoy, but I loved going to bed and getting into the dream environment where I could control much of what happened.
Years later, I can still control the subject and content of my dreams. I enjoy recurring adventures, and live through many of the scenes I write about.
Interesting fact: I have actually devised a series of novels from a concept created whilst asleep.
(As for events in the haunted house? That’s another story)
Title: The IX – Exordium of Tears
Author: Andrew P. Weston
Genre: Science Fiction
Fight or die.
That simple yet brutal reality is the tenet by which the refugees from Earth – including the fabled lost 9th Legion of Rome; the 5th Company, 2nd Mounted Cavalry Unit; and the Special Forces Anti-Terrorist Team – were forced to live by while the Horde menace existed. Believing that the threat is over, the survivors now yearn to settle down, start families, and reclaim the lives stolen from them.
But such aspirations might remain beyond their reach, for a shadow looms on the rose-tinted horizon of new beginnings.
The release of the re-genesis matrix has done much to foster a restoration of exuberance across Arden. Along with a resurgence in floral and faunal diversity comes the results of splicing the Ardenese and human genomes: transmutation. A metamorphosis of stunning magnitude that not only affects the living, but those still is stasis as well.
Recognizing the emergence of a new hybrid species, the Architect – the arcane AI construct tasked with the preservation of the Ardenese race – responds by unlocking previously hidden and inaccessible areas of the city. It also releases an archive of sealed state secrets. Such revelations are eagerly perused, whereupon a shocking discovery is made.
Prior to the fall, it was common knowledge amongst the Senatum (the highest levels of Arden’s government) that not all the rabid Horde had joined in the rampage across the stars toward Arden.
Realizing that the peril still exists, the newly reformed administration elects to respond in earnest. Existing resources are utilized, suitable candidates are chosen, and a flotilla of ships is sent out to secure, quarantine, and reclaim the outer colonies.
A mammoth and hazardous undertaking. And nowhere more so than at the planet from where the outbreak was known to have originated – Exordium – for there, the ancient Horde are not only supremely evolved and highly organized, but are capable of a level of lethal sophistication, the likes of which has never been witnessed before.
It is into this kiln of incendiary potential that the cream of Arden’s fighting forces is deployed.
Worlds are torn asunder, suns destroyed, and star systems obliterated. Yes, tragedy is forged, in a universe spanning conflict which proves once again that…
Death is only the beginning of the adventure.
Parked in geostationary orbit above a lifeless world, the vessel was a testimony to cultural and technological innovation. Sleek, vast, and lethal, she hung like the Titan she was; a leviathan sleeping amid a sea of infinite possibilities. Myriad stars bore witness to her majesty, and although each one glittered fiercely, none could lift the invasive chill leaching like death through the very constitution of her bones.
Within, a petrified forest of metal, fabric, and thermoplastic polymers slumbered.
Here, a coffee cup perched precariously on the edge of a counter, its flash-frozen contents discarded and forgotten long, long ago. There, a simple paper notebook hung suspended in the void above a set of stairs, as if waiting for the moment gravity would send it on its way toward the deck below. Between them, an ornate pen spiraled lazily by, captive to inertia, doomed to bounce endlessly back and forth between the bulkheads until an outside force intervened to stop its lonely, acrobatic sojourn. An all pervading hush dominated, enveloping the interior in a resonance that was absolute, and time dragged inexorably on. . .
A sophisticated-looking device situated close to the main communications array suddenly illuminated, and a series of complex glyphs fluttered silently across the gap in the air above it. Soon the space was filled with blazing icons curling around one another in a never-ending Möbius loop, until its phantom cursor came to rest in the bottom right-hand corner, blinking rapidly, awaiting further instructions.
Adjoining speakers squawked to life. A burst of static followed, signaling the receipt of a compressed data package. Then everything went blank, the process halted as abruptly as it had begun.
Silence reigned once more.
Bip — bip — bip — bip — bip — bip.
A larger console activated, and a cluster of master codes appeared within the display. As each cipher scrolled down the screen, it triggered redundant systems that had lain dormant for an age.
Lights winked on. A background hum lifted above the electronic chatter. A subtle vibration ran the length of the craft. Floating objects crashed to the floor and lay still. Empty halls and corridors thrummed with growing potential. Interior illumination dulled to a soft background radiance.
A hissing sound issued from the vents as pressure seals primed and engaged. Oxygen circulated once more.
A lotus-petal graphic flowered within the main holo-emitter, folding outward to be replaced by an overlapping series of ship’s schematics that quickly expanded off screen. One by one, oscillating star charts cascaded. Soon, the control center was awash in glittering green, scarlet, and royal blue phosphorescence.
“Arden home world located,” a female voice intoned, “security codes authenticated.”
“Caution! Time sensitive parameters breached.”
It sounded as if the entity was arguing with herself.
“Scanning for updates . . .”
“No fresh data available. Security protocol Coralin alpha-one, initiated. Homing beacon, activated. Full systems check. Accessing . . .”
“Internal sensors, online. Life signs, absent. Monitoring . . .”
“Emergency pods, present and intact. Anomalous energy signature detected. Isolation protocol instituted. Self destruct sequence prepped . . . Stand by.”
“Listing primary networks showing as fully functional. Life support, gravity core, weapons grid, deflectors, shields . . .”
“Propulsion diagnostics now complete. Maneuvering thrusters, sub-light engines, and rip-space drive standing by . . .”
“Security protocol Coralin alpha-one confirmed. Cold systems start in . . . Three, two, one. Primary burn commencing . . .”
At the rear of the behemoth nearly two miles away, a series of ruddy glows ignited deep within the bowels of the injector outlets. Power levels intensified. As they did so, the shimmering maelstrom divided to fill four giant nacelles.
With infinite grace, the huge cruiser moved out from the planet’s shadow cone. As she broached the solar penumbra, the sparkling iridescence of her matte black exterior flared as an ancient coating of rime blasted away into space, adding a shower of miniature diamonds to the gauze of eternal midnight.
Her speed increased, and she received a final signal.
Within minutes the vessel was gone, leaving behind only gravitational eddies resonating out into the void forever.
Ten hours and fifty light years in the opposite direction later, the onward transmission reached its mark. A dormant entity sparked to life, and once again a prolonged and complex group of ship’s systems came online.
Although similar in appearance, this craft was even larger than her sister, and had clearly been designed for one thing. Death.
Vector control skirts as wide as a sports stadium flared in response to the cataclysmic energies now thundering toward its main booster nozzles.
The colossus punched forward. As it did so, panels on its exterior surface shimmered, and the destroyer faded from sight.
Now invisible, it adjusted trajectory and set a course for home, four hundred and twenty trillion miles distant.
Andrew P. Weston is Royal Marine and Police veteran from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats.
An astronomy and law graduate, he is the creator of the international number one bestsellers, The IX, and Hell Bound, (A novel forming part of Janet Morris’ critically acclaimed Heroes in Hell shared universe). Andrew also has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Fantasy Society and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.
When not writing, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with two of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for http://Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories.
Social Media Links:
Andrew P. Weston Blog: http://theix.blogspot.gr/
The IX Blog: http://theix.blogspot.gr/