British author of the SPIRAL trilogy Andy Remic generously agreed to an unorthodox interview via email with The Martian Site.
TMS: The main characteristic of your books to date is the intensely cinematic style of the text. Do you make a special effort to create the feeling of a movie when you are writing or is it your natural way of writing?
AR: I think being part of a generation brought up on action movies has probably played a significant role in the way I visualise whilst writing. I don't intend to write a movie on the page (although have been "accused" of doing so) but that seems to be the way it turns out. I just write, what happens is up to somebody else.
TMS: As a bit of a health nut I am in awe of Carter who seems to be able to smoke, eat and drink what he likes yet can run seemingly forever. Did you include the lifestyle elements for Carter as part of creating a persona that was a bit of a throwback or was it just how Carter came to you as a character.
AR: Carter is very special, yes, but this is wholly justified at the end of the trilogy when all is explained. You see, but then I've also spent a lot of time around soldiers who can smoke 60 cigarettes a day, drink eight pints a night, eat army food (ie: shit designed to clog your system so you, er, don't) and hey, guess what, they can run for ever and protect our liberty. My Uncle (Kings Regiment) was like that. I was in awe of him and forever lecturing (you shouldn’t smoke, etc) but the wiry son-of-a-bitch just kept on running. It seems some people are just built that way, although I’m sure this lifestyle shaves a few years from their mortal coil.
TMS: While on the subject of Carter any interviewer would be remiss if they did not ask about Kade. Do you see Carter as a true multiple personality - he seems to be portrayed that way in the novels - or do you think of Kade as an extreme version of everyone's dark side?
AR: There is a specific reason Carter has Kade inside him, and I don’t want to give away plot-spoilers. However, on a different level Kade can indeed be seen
as a dark shadow which lingers, maybe not in everybody as an individual, but certainly in the disease that is the human condition. I find the human race so
fascinating – capable of such kindness (I saw a Labrador puppy get run over by a van, and watched eight huge bruisers blub their eyes out) and yet conversely
capable of the most despicable feats.
TMS: Did the idea of a multinational corporation as an ultra secret military force come out of the growing influence of multinationals in the real world and their effect on diplomacy, trade and warfare?
AR: Partially, probably, subliminally; although SPIRAL was written pre-9/11 and I tried to steer away from any sort of allegory. After all, I’m writing fiction and my aim is to entertain not mirror the massive horror of the apocalypse we seem to be living through.
TMS: If you'll forgive the characterization all your characters seem to be unbalanced - The Priest, Jam, Simmo, Mongrel and Carter are all what most people would think of as psychotic. Why is that?
AR: I think I like to read about unbalanced characters (I am reading as a form of escape, after all), and there is always that part of me that thinks to do
the sort of things my characters do, you would have to be partially unhinged. There is always a part to play in literary fiction for characters like Bridget
Jones; only not in my books. Unless she has an Uzi and can kick a Nex in the head.
TMS: I haven't dug into Warhead yet - I have to special order my Remic novels from Amazon - but the fact that there is a third book begs the question was this always planned as a trilogy?
A: When I wrote SPIRAL I was your typical unpublished author waiting for that big break. I thought publication would never happen to me, having had the usual thick sheaf of rejections - and so I just plodded on methodically doing what I loved. In my head, during writing, there was always potential for a trilogy (and more!) but I wrote SPIRAL as a standalone. After acceptance by Orbit, and during the subsequent editing of SPIRAL under the watchful and very helpful gaze of Simon Kavanagh, I tweaked a few elements so that the series would run to a trilogy. Thus, writing QUAKE I was more focused on the "bigger picture". I have now had ideas for a further three SPIRAL novels (if anybody out there is listening .........)
TMS: Recently Professor Sir John Pendry from the Imperial College in London announced and demonstrated his teams creation of an invisibility cloak based on metamaterials and electromagnetic technology that is quite readily available. Do you follow these kinds of scientific development or is the science in your books just picked up or made up as needed?
AR:I am thoroughly fascinated by scientific developments, and do try to keep abreast of what's going on. Alas, lack of time is my constant enemy - what with my teaching career and two young boys demanding my play time, my love of computer gaming, cycling, mountain climbing and, of course, reading. There just aren't enough hours in the decade. But - yes. Sometimes I base my writing on fact, sometimes I invent ... but I do try very hard to make my inventions realistic - I think hard about where technology could or would go in the future.
TMS: You maintain a very nice website - AndyRemic.com - that keeps your fans up to date with your work and also features some personal stuff. Is this just the face of modern publishing or did you have a website before your 10 year overnight success in writing?
AR:As a reader, I love researching my favourite authors. I like to know about their hobbies and daily routines, their favourite drinks and what they do at the weekend. I find biographies of authors fascinating, such as the Sutin biog of Phil Dick and Steve King's recent On Writing. So, when SPIRAL was accepted I just wanted to put something in place to give any interested party background info on me - not because I've a big ego, but because of my probably rather sad obsession with writers’ lives.
TMS: Many science fiction fans - myself included - are big fans of the artwork that adorns the covers of SF novels. Do you get the chance to purchase the original artwork for your covers or do the artists hang onto it?
AR:In the case of SPIRAL, QUAKE and WARHEAD, no. The artwork was created by two artists who, I believe, create using computer graphics - and so I suppose there is no "original" except in digital form. A very great shame. I do, however, have original art boards for the covers (ie without the pages inside) which are framed on my wall. There was a massive poster campaign for SPIRAL in rail stations across the UK and I have one of those (6 feet high) behemoths in my study.
TMS: The question has to be asked: What's on tap next? Are you taking a break or have you got a project with which you are currently engaged?
AR:I'm just putting down the final 20,000 words of my next novel, COMBAT K, a much more hardcore sciffy orientated thriller novel. It's about a disbanded combat squad on a wild series of missions across a massive canvas of war and alien planets and technology. Much, much more overtly science fiction than the previous three books. COMBAT K is due for publication by SOLARIS BOOKS (the new fiction arm of Games Workshop) towards the end of 2007. Hopefully, me and Solaris will have a long and fruitful sciffy relationship! After that will be NTEK, about a third finished. I'm also busy on a series of three mainstream thrillers aimed more at real-world puzzles, but still high octane action all the same. And then there's my original twist on the serial killer novel ............... so yes, very busy. A break? Ha ha. What's that?