From the Author
1. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?
It's PARADOX RESOLUTION, the second Spider Webb book. The idea for which came a long time ago, and changed so much in the development process that the original idea was completely forgotten, and I went with what you now find in the book.
2. What is the book about?
It's a book about how time travel leads to nothing but trouble and strife. There's a bit where Spider thinks that the so-called "E-mail From the Future" which had the original instructions on how to build a time machine, the sender of whom has never been found, was a terrorist plot to destabilise the world. Because it's obviously working.
3. What genre does it fit into?
Science fiction adventure.
4. What is different about the book?
It's set in Perth, Western Australia, in the near future. It's the least exotic, least futuristic, least whizzy place there is on Earth. Trust me. I know. The book is also big on its characters, because I think compelling characters make for a compelling read. Plot alone doesn't do it for me. I don't want to read about lifeless people following plot directions as if they were baking a very suspenseful cake. This is probably the one big lesson I've taken from reading classics and literary fiction: characters you can genuinely care about, and who grow and change.
5. Who is the book for?
People who liked the first one. Science fiction readers generally. Anyone with a pulse? :)
6. Why did you write the book?
I thought Spider still had some life left in him after the first book. And I keep getting these ideas, see.
7. When did you start writing the book?
I wrote the book during 2009-2010.
8. Where did the inspiration ideas come from for the book?
I have no idea. They just turn up out of nowhere. It's the nearest thing to magic there is, I believe. You're minding your own business, driving along, or doing the shopping, or trying to sleep, etc, and suddenly there's this thing in your head that hadn't been there a few minutes earlier. Sometimes these are so compelling that you have to drop everything you're doing and go and start writing notes. I've had entire novels come to me during long drives in the countryside. Not *good* novels; none of those have ever made it to print, but they do keep turning up. Then of course you can go for ages and have nothing turn up, and you start to worry and get neurotic about it. Until one day three turn up at once, like buses. It's weird.
9. There are six elements in writing fiction and often fact: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. The first five often lead to the sixth, which is the plot. What's your take on this?
I'm more into the Character is Plot school of thought, that plot emerges from what the characters are like, and what they're about.
10. How do you create your characters? Your plot? Do you have a specific process?
My characters tend to turn up, unannounced. I do write a *lot* of notes, though, once I've got a gaggle of characters. Especially with time-travel stories, where you've got things happening out of sequence, etc. That kind of thing you have to sketch out. And most often I don't have names for these characters. Names are hard. In notes they're usually just "Protagonist", and "Love Interest", "Sidekick", "Robot Buddy", "Woman Who Means Trouble", "Sad Dog", "Major Villain", "Minor Villain", etc.
11. Do you know how the story will end before you begin?
In a general way or a specific one? Not a freaking clue in the world. Mostly I'm writing the way I would read, to find out what happens next. Most times I sit down to write, I have no idea what the characters will be doing that day. I have broad aims and goals for them, and, sort of, limits within which they can do what they like. If this sounds like keeping a puppy in a play-pen, then you're probably right.
12. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?
No, I just make stuff up. On occasion I will consult maps of places where I haven't been, and similar sorts of information (Google Maps/Earth is brilliant) to get more of a sense of things.
13. Where do you do your research? On line or books?
Mainly online. I've read a boatload of popular physics books. And I have some very brainy friends I consult from time to time when I've got a particularly knotty problem. For matters pertaining to, say, local police, I ask the local police. They've been very helpful, and answer my queries, even though they know I'm a science fiction writer. I'd love to go and sit down and talk with a detective sometime, but I doubt they'd go along with that.
14. Do you write in more than one genre?
I write science fiction, but also like detective fiction (and spy fiction — Alan Furst, John LeCarre and Charles McCarry). In detective fiction I love the Scandinavian stuff (not so much Larsson, but the other guys are great) most of all. I often try to blend the sf and the detective elements. The detective story often provides a useful frame around which to tell a good sf story, I've found.
15. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?
I was born into the Space Age, and the Cold War. I saw the Apollo 11 moon landing when I was 6. STAR TREK and DOCTOR WHO and lots of other TV sf shows all turned up as I was growing up. I grew up absolutely soaking in futurity. :) It's just a shame it hasn't worked out the way we thought it would.
16. Are there villains in your book(s) and how were they created?
Yes, though they don't and would never think of themselves as villains, just as the villains of the real world never think they're villains. Bashar al-Assad, of Syria, thinks he's saving his country from foreign interlopers and terrorists (mind you, he also does think of Syria as *his*, as in his actual birthright, that he owns it). Hitler thought he was doing the world a huge favour. Breivik, in Norway, shot all those kids, etc, and thought he was not only doing the country a huge favour, but that he was performing a vital service, and that he should be given a medal for taking the initiative, and being a good citizen. Villains see things differently. They make different choices.
Some are obviously evil and crazy, but they don't worry about things like that. Or they have yes-men who reassure them that everything they're doing is just and proper. Villains in my books, like Dickhead McMahon, believe they're doing the universe a great service. There's also the matter of gaining exclusive knowledge. Dickhead is crazy. In Spider 3 he has come to realize this, and has gotten treatment for it, and is now full of terrible awareness of what he's done. He's still Dickhead, though. :)