Saturday, 7 June 2008

Author Interview! Jonathan Green

I've really enjoyed reading Jonathan's 'Adventures of Ulysses Quicksilver' so it was particularly cool when Jonathan agreed to answer a few questions for the Blog. Without further ado, here are his answers...

Hi Jonathan, thanks for agreeing to answer my questions!

1) You’re running a competition where readers can have a character named after them, in your next book, if they do something to raise awareness of the series. Does interviewing you get me entered?

Yes it does, as by my reasoning interviewing me will help raise awareness of Pax Britannia. Consider yourself in the hat, ready for the final draw!

2) You’ve written a number of books (including Sonic the Hedgehog!) in a number of genres. What has been your favourite area to write in so far?

I’ve always loved fantasy and sci-fi. Match Wits with the Kids (my next book to be published) and the one I’ve just completed (which will be out in time for Christmas) called What is Myrrh Anyway? are only the second and third times I’ve written something non-fiction, based in the real work, in 16 years and 19 books. That said there’s a fair bit connected with Christmas that you would consider fantasy and I’ve managed to squeeze some sci-fi references into Match Wits.

I have a real fondness for the recent Fighting Fantasy gamebooks I’ve written, which take me back to what I first wrote professionally as well as what it was like to read those kinds of books when I was 11 – and was quite simply blown away by them.

I’m also really proud of the Pax Britannia stuff, which I think gets better with every outing. They’re the first thing I’ve written set within a world of my own creating, rather that making use of a pre-existing setting (such as Doctor Who, Warhammer or Sonic the Hedgehog).

So, I guess a combination of fantasy and steampunk would be the simple answer.

3) What inspired you to start writing Steampunk?

I’ve also found its mix of Victoriana and science-fiction appealing. This has only been enhanced by writers like Tim Powers, Arthur Conan Doyle, H G Wells and Jules Verne. And then there have been the delightful anachronisms of Doctor Who (especially those adventures which take place within Victorian England), and the Victorian period of history itself – a time of real advancement and exploration when nothing seemed impossible. The Indigo Prime story Killing Time (by the inestimable John Smith and Chris Weston) which appeared in the anthology comic 2000AD in the early 90s was also a huge influence. (Time travelling trains before Back to the Future III – how could you go wrong with that?)

4) Have you ever considered writing a Steampunk adventure about Sonic the Hedgehog?

Now that sounds like a cool idea. Unfortunately, I don’t think the IP owners Sega are looking to extend the franchise in that direction any time soon.

5) Is there anything you can tell us about your next ‘Pax Britannia’ novel ‘Human Nature’?

Well, yes, actually. I’ve just started writing it this week, although it’s been plotted out for months. Human Nature is definitely the darkest of Ulysses Quicksilver’s adventures so far, one that’s really going to put our hero through the wringer.

Where Unnatural History was an action-adventure, Leviathan Rising a murder mystery, Fruiting Bodies pulp sci-fi and Vanishing Point the Pax Britannian take on a ghost story, Human Nature is a Cthulhu-esque horror story. Plenty of gribbly monsters and truly terrifying life and death situations for our hero to face.

But to get a better idea of what the actually story is about, you could do a lot worse than read the blurb I’ve already written for the back cover.

The Whitby Mermaid, prize exhibit of Cruickshanks’ Cabinet of Curiosities, has been stolen. But have no fear; consulting detective Gabriel Wraith is on the case. And he’s not the only one, for wherever there is a mystery to be solved, Ulysses Quicksilver is never very far away.

What does the theft – of what would appear to be a poorly-conceived fake – have to do with the mysterious House of Monkeys? And what of the enigmatic criminal known only as the Magpie? When Ulysses probes further into the case, he finds himself embarking upon an adventure that will take him to the industrially-polluted North of England and the fishing town where the curious creature was supposedly caught.

But there are worse things awaiting him there than mermaids. The moors of Ghestdale are haunted by the savage Barghest beast, while in the abandoned mines beneath the Umbridge estate, impossible abominations lurk in the darkness, waiting. And yet Ulysses Quicksilver is about to discover that the worst horrors are those spawned by Man’s own selfish nature.

Trapped within the very heart of darkness, with his body and sanity threatened, can he escape a fate worse than death – with both still intact – before one man’s insane quest for immortality comes to fruition?

6) How much fun do you have in writing a character like Ulysses Quicksilver?

A lot; in fact it’s almost criminal how much fun I have sitting at home, listening to some appropriately mood-setting soundtrack whilst writing Pax Britannia stories, while other people actually have to go out an work all day!

I suppose it’s something of a cliché, but writing a character like Ulysses you get to ‘live out’ your fantasies, doing all the daring, exciting and life-threatening things you would never do in real life (at least, I wouldn’t). That said, with what’s coming up in Human Nature, I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes at all!

7) You have the chance to team Ulysses Quicksilver up with Sherlock Holmes, Captain Nemo or Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde. Which one would you choose and why?

I think it would have to be Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I’ve also been fascinated by the whole idea of man conquering the beast inside him (or not), as well as looking at what it takes to make a good man into a creature of evil. It’s an idea I’ve explored in some of my books in the past (Necromancer and Howl of the Werewolf both have elements of this in them) and I’m sure I’ll come back to it again in the future. In fact, I know I will… in Pax Britannia.

8) You work as a teacher, would you ever give it up to write full time? Have you ever been tempted to model your villains on colleagues that you don’t like?

I’m actually giving up teaching completely this summer, having gone part-time at the start of the last school year. Too many projects, not enough time, and… well… something had to give.

I have to say I’ve never been tempted to model any villainous characters on people I’ve worked with, because they’re all far too nice ;-)

However, I have worked with a few characters over the years (which is how they would probably describe me) and I do have a nugget of an idea for a novel centred upon a school staffroom. Who knows, maybe one day…?

9) At the last count, you’ve got six blogs on the go! How do you manage keeping them all going at once? Do you ever find yourself posting in the wrong blog?

Technically I only manage five (the first was a mistake when I was new to blogging) but yes, it does take some work. Usually it involves me working late into the night to try and keep everything alive on there. I don’t want to be one of these writers who doesn’t post anything for months at a time, but neither will I post drivel, just so as to post something every day.

And yes, I did post to the wrong blog once – but only once, so far, and realised my mistake in time to change it.

Part of the reason for having so many blogs is to help promote individual books (a very good suggestion put forward once at a writers’ seminar). Hence I currently have two blogs named after books coming out this year and a more generic one for my Pax Britannia stuff.

The Jonathan Green, Author blog is really supposed to be the front door into everything else; professional, relevant, with info on publications, events and competitions. Unnatural History (which was my first blog) is the more relaxed, informal one which includes posts on things which have caught my eye or other intriguing trivia.

10) Finally, why should everyone be reading your ‘Pax Britannia’ books?

Because they’re great fun reads and an entertaining way to take yourself out of the world for a few hours. Also, there’s a big story in there that’s steadily beginning to take shape (and which I had planned from day one), so you want to be there for the ride and the dramatic denouement in about… twelve books time (or thereabouts).

Thanks for your time.

It’s been a pleasure.

Jonathan Green
London, June 2008

Read my reviews of Leviathan Rising and Unnatural History!

Jonathan's Author Blog can be found Here.


James said...

Good interview Graeme. I'm a massive fan of Fighting Fantasy books, and one of Jonathan's - Spellbreaker - is my favourites. W00t.

ediFanoB said...

Informative interview Graeme. I like victorian age and steampunk. Jonathan's books are on my to-buy to-read list.

SO it was a pleasure to get some more information about Jonathan Green and his books.