Stephen Hunt Q&A and giveaway

Hi guys,

With their website down, the folks at Voyager asked me if I'd be willing to post a short interview they did with Stephen Hunt in exchange for a giveaway. As you can see, since both of Hunt's novels are on my "books to read" piles, I accepted their offer.

So check out the Q&A with Hunt, and perhaps you'll be intrigued enough to register for the contest. Up for grabs are five sets of both The Court of the Air (Canada, USA, Europe) and The Kingdom Beyond the Waves (Canada, USA, Europe).

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "WAVES." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!;-)

- The Kingdom Beyond the Waves has elements of Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle and Rider Haggard intermingled with the Jackelian world of The Court of the Air. Have you always been a fan of classic adventure stories?

I have, although for me the definition of the true classics would have to be widened to include much of space opera, science fiction and fantasy pulp and the 1970s new wave as much as the slightly more stuffy 1930s Homesian and Lost World genre. Michael Moorcock, more than Rider Haggard, perhaps.

- Is there anything that grips your imagination now that you think you might like to go on an adventure and discover for yourself?

I think my fantasy novels are about as close as I would like to get to any of the dangerous situations I regularly toss my characters into. Trying to find lost cities while avoiding dinosaurs and cannibal steammen I am quite happy to leave to those with serious firearm training and their own torpedo-carrying u-boat.

In real life I’m a bumbling absent-minded professor-like klutz, so I would probably only feature in my literary adventures as a comic fill-in who always puts everyone else in danger by accidently stumbling into a seventy-foot tarantula nest. I’m also a homebody, far happier with my feet up in front of the fire grate reading a copy of the Sunday newspapers, than exploring dangerous distant realms. I don’t even do camping anymore! My idea of the perils of the quest these days is a dodgy two-star hotel.

Perhaps I could make a good, traditionally minded hobbit, who refuses to go out beyond my garden, unless there’s the promise of a hearty roast lunch at the neighbours mound opposite?

- Who would you assemble from the canon of great explorers of the past whether living or fictional in your pursuit for your lost antiquities?

Well, they’d have to be good – or lucky – to keep me alive, so I could only choose from the very best. I would need Robur and Captain Nemo on technical support and gadget provision, Professor Challenger heading the expedition, and for muscle, I’d need Tarzan, Flash Gordon, Tom Strong, Michael Kane of Old Mars, Jerry Cornelius, and Oswald Bastable (the latter is from Moorcock’s Nomad of the Time Streams). I would also pack the expedition with lots of evil henchmen and a traitorous academic, to ensure they got added to the lunch menu by those giant spiders before I did.

- Have you ever been tempted to bring your mixture of technologies and worldsinging fantastical arts into a more futuristic world?

Well, there’s certainly a space opera or two lurking within me. I love reading Iain Banks culture books and Alastair Reynolds’ works, and I definitely think I could create some novels in the ‘grand sweeping cosmic-strings as dreadnought ordinance’-style.

I don’t think I’d like to press the fast-forward button on the Jackelian world to get there, though. Novels like The Kingdom Beyond the Waves are too rooted in a Napoleonic/Victorian-level culture. It’d be like trying to re-imagine Middle Earth in the 27th century. You’d end up with mutant offspring like Warhammer 40K.

Part of the fun of writing an entirely new series is coming up with a new world to keep your brain cells fresh, though, so I wouldn’t imagine it would be too much of a problem to push out into that territory.

- In The Court of the Air, we’re left at the end of the novel with Middlesteel in the throes of revolution, what was the thinking between the two stories that made you decide to take up a separate story with Amelia Harsh?

I wanted each novel to be a stand-alone, discrete work in its own right. The Court of the Air is one tale, The Kingdom Beyond the Waves is another, albeit set in the same world with some of the same characters. Writing them that way helped assuage my worries that I might be tempted to meander into an identikit fantasy series where you have to have read book twenty in the series for book two to make any kind of sense at all.

You just end up straying into soap opera territory when you do that, and writing with many of the exact same literary tricks the soap scriptwriters use to keep their audience vaguely engaged on the tediously long journey. ‘Aha, you thought I died in book seven, but actually, I married an elf and she used her Ring of Resurrection to bring me back to life in book seventeen, then I divorced her and married your mother… so yes, I am now your father (and you may kiss my ring).’

- What were some of the moments about creating the world of The Kingdom Beyond the Waves that brought you the most satisfaction (without giving too much away!)?

The floating city of Camlantis was a lot of fun, as was the journey into the dark ruin-strewn jungles of Liongeli. Much of the world’s backdrop had already been established in The Court of the Air, though, so I could just get stuck straight into the story, which was rather nice on a great many levels.

- After the first novel, what was the fan mail like and what was one of the best items?

The fan mail seems to be largely electronic these days, either via e-mail, or as profile comments on social networking services like Hivemind and Facebook. It’s usually tended to be of a fairly general nature along the lines of ‘wow, I really loved the book, when’s the next one coming out?’

It’s always nice when you get other budding authors asking you questions about the whats and wherefores of the authoring business – and that happens a lot. You kind of feel like Obi Wan lecturing Luke on lightsabre etiquette (although a little less worthy: the force is not always so strong within me).

- What was the hardest moment writing The Kingdom Beyond the Waves, how was that compared to the last novel?

To be honest, there really wasn’t one. Whenever I hit a roadblock, I just turn my imagination loose on it and blast it away. Perhaps I should be suffering for my art more, so I could feel lot a ‘proper’ author. I could take a small flat in Paris, wear black roll-necks, get off of my gourd on the green fairy, climb up my own a-hole and talk a lot more about how the tenuous perception of reality should act as the bridge between the writer and reader.

If anything, The Kingdom Beyond the Waves was an easier novel to write, because the concept and the world and the society had already been proved in The Court of the Air. The core of the second novel for me was a fairly interesting philosophical question, though… how much money and power do you need to change the world for the better? And what’s ‘better’ anyway? It’s always easy to write an exciting page-turner when you have a deeper central theme to wrap everything around.

- Your next novel, The Rise of the Iron Moon will be coming out in twelve months, can you give us any details, or is it still firmly under wraps?

The Rise of the Iron Moon details the invasion of the Kingdom of Jackals from the north by a force that everyone believes are merely a horde of particularly successful polar barbarians. They soon learn, to their everlasting regret, that the invaders aren’t large hairy axe-wielding raiders, however.

It features the return of the complete gang from The Court of the Air, including Molly, Oliver, Commodore Black and Coppertracks, and yes, it was a joy to write this one too!

3 commentaires:

ediFanoB said...

Hi Pat,
normally I take part in your giveaways. But this time I doesn't make sense for me because I bought "The Court of the Air" last month and I will by "The Kingdom Beyond the Waves" this month.

Anyway I hope a lot of people will take part.

SFcrowsnest said...

Hi Pat

Quickie for you - I'd love to link to the interview from my site at - could you send me the permanent url to do this when you have it (it's sliding down the home page as I speak ... and you post).



Patrick said...

Hi Stephen,

Couldn't find an email address on your website, so here is the permanent link: