(Note: This interview was originally meant to be in audio form for The Skiffy and Fanty Show. Due to technical constraints, Mr. Remic and I decided to conduct the interview in text form.)
The lovely Andy Remic has been so kind as to answer a few questions for my blog. I’ve reviewed two of his works (Kell’s Legend and Serial Killers Inc.) and loved both of them. You should definitely give his work a try, or something bad will happen to you.
Here’s the interview
You’ve recently started up Anarchy Books. What is Anarchy Books and how did you come to be a part of it? What’s the story?
I’d written a couple of novels which were not of my “genre” (SFF) and, like every other author, have seen the gradual acceleration of digital publishing during the last couple of years following in the footsteps of the digital music world; and I thought, “why the hell not?” I knew some of my books were doing well digitally, and simply decided I’d give it a try as a vehicle for some of my different genre works. Then I discovered other friends/writers wanted to jump onboard as well, hence Anarchy Books! Ultimately, I suppose it’s my longterm backup plan for when I’ve sexually
offended every single publisher I’ve ever worked with, and they all lock me out of the Big Boys Club and in a dark dungeon filled with chains and torture devices. Kinky, these publishing types, y’know ;-).
Since Anarchy Books is heavily oriented towards ebooks, what do you think the future of publishing is going to look like? Will ebooks take over the publishing industry? Will they peak at 35% like some say? Will print books become collectibles created by places like Subterranean?
I think with platforms like iPad2 and Kindle, the explosion is still happening. Yes, I love to hold a paperback in my bear paws, but if I go to Florida for 3 weeks I can read 15 novels. That’s a lot of weight (read extorted dollars) for the US authorities to add to my airport bill. So a digital reader for me is perfect. It’s also perfect for proof reading my own works, and the wonderful works of my Anarchy Authors. And I think, as younger audiences grow up with digital devices intrinsic to their lives and learning, it will seem abnormal for them to hold a paper book – gradually, these “relics” will go the way of vinyl. Maybe. (The madness being, I am now collecting vinyl again!!). I truly think one day digital ebook sales will outweigh their print companions. And let’s be positive – they’re eco friendly, right? Hurrah! And they also give “the little guy” a chance to get work into the public domain.
Your first book released from Anarchy Books is Serial Killers Inc. Can you tell us a little about it? What was the inspiration for the book?
Lots of things came together to create this book. I fancied writing a straight hardcore thriller, just for the hell of it – so wrote it without a contract, whilst still fulfilling my SF contracts. I’d been spending a lot of time in Glasgow and London, and wanted to represent these two great cities in some way (and obviously kill characters on their mean streets). And I wanted to write about a sleazy hedonist – so that I could hurt him. A lot. Finally, I despise serial killers, and despise the fact that people can become famous for doing basic inhuman acts to the innocent. I wanted some omniscient payback. It was a pleasure modifying the history of certain real serial killers in the book; writing how it ought to be, not how it was.
Your fiction doesn’t pull any punches. Your characters are sometimes vulgar and have awful experiences (such as in Serial Killers Inc), and your action is often gritty and sometimes surreal in its no-holds-barred approach. What drew you to this kind of storytelling over the more common withdrawn narratives?
When writing, I find good manners boring. I find passive protagonists the most dull people to read. Watching Dr Who back-to-back for all eternity waving his fecky little sonic screwdriver and pumping his bike pump in the TARDIS is my vision of HELL! When I read a book, I want to read about bastards doing bad things to other bastards. I want nasty policemen hunting down villains and making them pay. I want to read about insane soldiers crucifying paedophiles. And only a few writers seem to write what I want to read, so I write some of it myself. Why write this violence and mayhem, I hear you cry whilst sharpening your pitchfork?? Call it a low boredom threshold and an accelerated cynicism of the world.
What do you think is the advantage of this form, if any, and do you think gritty SF/F is making the genre more popular, or do you think it’s a niche kind of writing?
I think different readers just like different things. I mean, I absolutely love PKD and yet his work is a world away from mine in terms of aggression and violence. Yes, writers like Joe Abercrombie and Richard Morgan (and me) have dirtied up the fantasy stakes a little bit, and that’s cool, but as long as different readers want to buy different styles of book, then people will write them (thank God!). I’m not convinced gritty SFF is making the genre more popular, because there will always be those readers who love the flowing poetic writings of Tolkien, say. I like them myself. I’m thrilled the genres are booming and SF especially has crawled away from its 1950s pit. SF and F deserve to be up there in neon lights getting the Big Awards and earning the Big Bucks.
What is your process for writing the kinds of books you write? (Or, do you hang out with serial killers or take a time machine to olden times to talk to masters of the axe?)
Haha. I write like many others writers. It begins with the seed of an idea or character, some planning and plotting and general note-taking, then long hours of slog at the keyboard. I personally focus on characters first, and then link to an idea for plot I will have had somewhere along the line. I tend to be able to zone out other noises/events now, and can write pretty much anywhere. There’s no secret technique. Just lots of hours at the keyboard 🙂
You’ve also written a number of fantasy and science fiction novels, such as your Clockwork Vampire Chronicles from Angry Robot and your Combat-K novels from Solaris. How is writing these genres different from one another for you?
To me, writing a book is writing a book, no matter what genre I’m writing in. I approach it in the same way, it’s just my imagination that stretches off in different directions depending on the genre. I did particularly like writing Serial Killers Inc, because I had to use a different discipline keeping it “real world” and that’s something I’m not used to.
How do you feel about the state of science fiction literature? Do you think straight SF will become increasingly more niche or do you see a brighter future for the genre?
No, I think SF is riding high at the moment and will continue to do so. I think horror died out a little because people became more cynical, and were no longer afraid of what’s Under The Bed. Hell, even if bug-eyed aliens from Mars arrive tomorrow, us SF dudes will be out there writing about the aliens’ nightmares and their what ifs. I despair of those people who watch or read SF, and won’t acknowledge that it is SF. Look how many blockbuster SF films we’ve had in recent years – and yet many of those same people will sneer at SF like it’s some distant redneck cousin drunk on skunk moonshine. SF needs to shake off the image of nerdy geeks with thick specs and cardigans speaking Klingon – but how to do it, hey? I think my chainsaw and shotgun may point in the right direction… and I think Peggy and Frost are doing a sterling job as well!! Hurrah!
What projects do you have coming up and can you tell us a bit about them?
My third Clockwork Vampire novel VAMPIRE WARLORDS has just been published by Angry Robot Books, and that’s just a few weeks after my fourth Combat K novel, CLONEWORLD, published by Solaris Books, and my first straight thriller, SERIAL KILLERS INC emerged from the mental slime. I’m putting the finishing touches to THEME PLANET for Solaris, which is going to be so dark and violent and probing, it makes me shudder even now to think about it – forget black humour, mate. There’s not one atom of black humour (or any type of humour) in this damn book! I’m also just about to edit SIM, my next ebook for ANARCHY BOOKS – the story of an insane psycho cyborg, a government killer who finds a sweet liddle puddy cat. When they try and remove his cat (because all animals are illegal) he, erm, breaks down, shall we say! Then it’s on to the writing of TOXICITY for Solaris, preparing some fantasy pitches for my agent John Jarrold to punt around, and working with many fine authors and musicians on my own little baby, ANARCHY BOOKS (www.anarchy-books.com), which is just about to publish Vincent Holland-Keen’s fabulous Douglas Adam’s-style black comedy detective noir, THE OFFICE OF LOST & FOUND. And then I’m making various short films and gearing up for the creating of a horror feature which we’ll take to various global film festivals.
So. Not busy at all then!