Friday, 4 October 2013

Author Interview: Jason M. Hough

The Darwin Elevator
The Exodus Towers
The Plague Forge


> What is The Dire Earth Cycle about? 

It's the late 23rd century. A plague has swept across the globe and the only people who are safe are in Darwin, Australia where a space elevator of mysterious alien origin protects against the disease. A small group of people with a rare immunity scavenge the dangerous wastelands beyond Darwin for useful items, a role that eventually draws them into the efforts to unravel what these aliens want.

> What drew you to writing about an alien caused apocalypse?

I'd wanted to write a story with a space elevator at the center of it, but I kept reading how building such a device would be impossible. The contrarian in me thought, "who says we're the ones to build it?" and the story took off from there.

> How do your aliens differ from what we've seen before?

Well, for one they're largely unseen.  They're sending ships to earth in what appears to be a carefully crafted sequence, but to what ends nobody knows.

> What made you want to be a writer?

After leaving my job as a game designer, I needed a new hobby to fill the creative void in my life.  I decided to try writing and quickly came to love the craft.

> If you could, would you change places with any of your characters?

Nah, I'm having too much fun.  Besides I'd miss my wife and kids!

> You were a game designer for several years.  Did you have any game or literary influences for The Darwin Elevator?

Most of the games I designed were real-time strategy, and there are a few aspects of those games that wormed their way into the books.  As for literary influences, I'm truly a product of everything I've read.  Specifically, these books were strongly influenced by post-apocalyptic novels like Stephen King's The Stand, and first contact stories like Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke.

> You wrote The Darwin Elevator in 2008 as a Nanorimo project.  You didn't get a publishing deal until 2011.  How did you stay motivated to keep refining the manuscript until it was publication worthy?

I told people, friends and family, that I was working on it.  That way I had to work on it, lest I admit failure when they asked me how it was going.

> What was the hardest scene for you to write?
The end of the third book. It was really hard for me to draw everything together in a satisfying way, but still leave open the door for more stories later.

> When and where do you write?

I write in the mornings, usually in my den or at a coffee shop.

> What’s the best/worst thing about writing?

It's largely solitary. This is good because your success or failure is entirely up to you, but bad because you can wind up in a creative vacuum.

> What is something you didn’t know about the publishing industry before you had your first book published?

That they would offer to buy a series of books simply based on their impression of the first book.  The publisher offered a contract for a trilogy without even asking me how many books I envisioned, or indeed where the overall story was going. Which was actually a good thing, since I had very little written down in terms of plans.  In the end my editor and I were able to collaborate very closely on the outlines for books 2 and 3.

> Do you have any advice for hopeful authors?

Listen to audiobooks. You'll get a new appreciation for language, learn what kinds of prose hamper or improve pace, and eventually you'll start to hear your favorite narrators in your head as you write.

> Any tips against writers block?

Close your eyes and watch the movie. Seriously, try to picture the scene as if it were a film, and keep rewinding until you can envision it clearly enough to write it.

No comments: