1. How did you get started writing?
I was getting back into writing with a fantasy series and researching the indie scene. Then I discovered my brother James had been secretly writing an epic fantasy series. He didn’t seem to be about to actually push the button and publish though, so I persuaded him we should go to the 20 Books London conference. Once that was in the calendar, we started working on a sci-fi series together, which I hoped would help him put his work out there. It worked well for us, and the Royal Marine Space Commandos were born. Or rather, their bodies were grown in cloning pods.
2. Out of all your books, which one is your favourite and why?
Commandos, because it was a huge thrill to have written something with my brother, and it was, by our standards, a big hit. It’s the first book in our RMSC universe and the proof to James that this wasn’t some crazy get rich quick scheme from his little brother, but a realistic possibility that we could make our living as authors.
My first book though, was The Mutilated Merchant, a fantasy detective series. That’s not really a thing, so I renamed it Thieftaker which sounds a bit more serious. I haven’t been able to get back to that series, because it’s never going to sell well but I will finish it one day as it’s the world my passion project will take place in.
3. If your friends were asked to describe you in one word, what would it be?
It would almost certainly be four letters and crude. Lots of my friends are very kind though, so they’d probably make up something nice if asked.
4. What is your favorite thing to do outside of writing?
Talking to my friends at author conferences. I mean, other venues would be fine, but I mostly see my author friends at conferences.
5. What do you love most about the genre you write?
That it allows us to explore possible futures and the mistakes we are making now, or could make in the future. Sci-fi has a lot to do with why we have smartphones, self-driving cars, tablet computers, virtual reality, satellites, electric cars, re-usable rockets, Hyperloop, the world wide web and more. It is a driving force and an inspiration to scientists and engineers. Those billionaires taking on serious, modern philanthropy like colonising Mars, providing cost effective toilets worldwide and internet to all humans, are doing that because they were exposed to sci-fi. Not mine, I’m not old enough but it provided them the idea that the future could be bright, as long as we take our shades off.
6. What do you want readers to take from your books?
Ideally I’d like them to be amused for as long as it takes to read them, and to spot at least one pop culture reference. My goal is to entertain them. I would like them to enjoy the action, but realise that it would be absolutely crazy for us to take war with us into our interstellar future. For me, that’s the bigger leap of logic, than faster than light travel or our heroes being downloaded into cloned bodies. My hope is that our descendants will grow up, and stop fighting wars and I find it unlikely that aliens would find a reason to attack us. We worked hard on why our bad guys get into a war, and it is a very human reason (i.e. it’s ultimately extremely stupid as per most human wars).
7. Describe yourself in 3 words.
Fat. Short. Unfit.
8. What made you decide to write in your current genre?
My brother and I were both writing fantasy and he was never going to publish his. Writing together was my way of trying to push him over the ledge and it’s one of the few things I got right in my life. We picked sci-fi because we both read fantasy and sci-fi since we were kids, and half of what I read, I borrowed from James’s bookshelf as he’s the older brother. Much older. So much older. It made sense to write something different together, and we didn’t think romance would be a good idea.
9. Tell us about your current release/or new release?
I’m working on my edits of our sixth book, Fleet. Hopefully by the time Hellcats comes out, it’ll be available for our loyal readers (and the disloyal ones!) and my level of stress will drop, until we start on books 7 to 12. Or fifteen if James gets his way…
10. What does your writing space look like?
Like I’m a 43 year old bachelor for a reason. I mean, it’s not filthy, but it’s not dust free or tidy. Everything on the desk is here for a reason. There are two computers and 3 monitors. I constantly worry that the chair is going to collapse under my weight because I weigh as much as Conan, without either height or muscle, or the answer to the riddle of steel.
11. What’s the one piece of technology you can’t live without?
English. But seriously, I would die without technology, as would we all. I’m a massive geek and gadget hound and I have a particular dislike of all Luddites.
12. Do you find it hard to kill off your characters?
Yes, because our characters back up their minds to powerful computer systems, and then download themselves into cloned bodies. This means we can blow up our Royal Marines and a few days later, we can send their most recent backup back into a new body. Which sometimes has wings.
For other work, I plan to really, finally, kill some of the heroes. I’ll specifically set them up as well as I can, to cause them maximum possible reader distress when I get to kill them.
13. How much of your characters are based on your traits or someone you know personally?
Not that we know personally, but plenty of the names are Tuckerisations or references to places we lived or grew up in. Governor Denmead for instance, is a great character, but she’s named after a rather ordinary village near where James and I went to school.
14. What are you working on now? Can you share a teaser of it with our readers?
I’m working on our sixth book together, Fleet. It’s an ongoing series so there’s not much to tease, but I can tell you that it’s based around the naval actions, and not people who are quick on their feet.
15. Is there one genre that you have not written in yet, but would love to try writing?
No. There are lots. But I’d like to try gamelit at some point.
16. What do you do when a flash of inspiration hits you at an inopportune moment?
I chant the idea over and over like a mantra, try and rinse the soap out of my hair without getting it in my eyes, because I use that really minty shower gel and it feels so, so weird on the eyeballs. Then I dry off enough that I won’t get electrocuted by my keyboard, sit down and dump it into a Google document as quickl as possible. If it’s for something new I then try and forget about it, leaving it in a folder of ideas I will never have time to write.
17. What keeps you going while writing?
Caffeine, which I prefer to derive in tablet form if I’m desperate, or from Coke Zero by preference. I drink neither tea or coffee, which makes me a bad Englishman, and probably some kind of traitor to my people, as well as my chosen tribe (authors). Also confectionery and Cheddars of various types.
18. What’s next for you?
Finishing book six, then the rest of the series.
19. Where can we find you on the internet?