I'm pleased to welcome back Adam Christopher to I Will Read Books. Adam Christopher's first book
Empire State was released in January earlier this year. Adam Christopher, and Angry Robot, have some exciting news to share with us, but first I want to ask some questions about his experience with the first book.
For more information about Adam visit his homepage http://www.adamchristopher.co.uk/. You can also find Adam on Twitter as @ghostfinder.
Congratulations mate, you've done it. Was there ever a moment when you doubted your chances of seeing your own book in Waterstones?
Well, short of a catastrophic of Cthulhuian proportions, there was never any doubt that the book would come out, and actually the nine months from announcement to release went pretty quickly.
But it is still nicely surreal to see the book on the shelf when I walk into a bookstore and I still get mildly freaked out when people send me shelf photos from places like Arizona and Australia, and even Finland! It’s very cool, and I hope that feeling won’t ever go away.
I have kept an eye on reviews for Empire State and the good ones by far outnumber the bad ones. How did it feel reading that first review? Was there a good and bad thing which reviewers seemed to agree on? What surprised you the most?
As I’m sure every debut author does, I did try to keep a close eye on reviews and track them when they started appearing, but it very quickly became impossible to keep up. Also reviews are strange in a way because they are really nothing to do with the author – the book is out there for people to read and enjoy (or not), and paying too much attention is liable to drive you barmy! That time and effort is better devoted to working on the next book.
Enough questions about what has happened, let's talk about the future instead. Take a look at this press release from Angry Robot Books.
Adam Christopher Joins Angry Robot’sFour-Book Club
Following the hugely successful launch of his debut novel Empire State earlier this year, Angry Robot has signed Adam Christopher for another two titles.
Christopher revisits the world of the Empire State in a sequel, The Age Atomic, to be published in May 2013, with Hang Wire – a tale of ancient gods and serial killers – to follow within a year.
Read the full press release over at http://angryrobotbooks.com.
In The Age Atomic, we move from detective noir to 50s sci-fi as Rad finds himself New York's Public Enemy number 1, fighting a quantum ghost and her army of atomic robots determined to protect the United States against the Red Menace of the Empire State.
Hang Wire features ancient magic hidden in San Francisco's Chinatown while a primal evil deep below the city begins to stir. Above ground, a serial killer stalks the streets at night and a sentient circus plots world domination.
A sequel to Empire State, I honestly did not think you would write one. Was it planned, or is this because your fans demanded one?
A little of both actually. I had a load of notes and ideas for a second book, but rather than planning a sequel for the sake of it, I wanted to wait and see whether I felt the sequel needed to be written. Some of those ideas made it into the interview I did with Chuck Wendig that is at the back of Empire State.
Since Empire State came out, a lot of people have asked me if I was going to do more in that world, and several reviews have expressed a desire for a sequel. So there was enough interest, and it reached that tipping point where I had a story I wanted – needed – to tell. The Age Atomic was born!
Rad is back, dare I ask if we will be reacquainted with anyone else?
Yep, Rad and several others make a return, joining the characters new to this book. It’s a lot of fun returning to a character like Rad, especially introducing him to the new cast. Rad might be a figment of my imagination but he feels more and more like an old friend!
Nimrod is also back, along with his two agents. There are some cool new characters too - in the Empire State, Special Agent Jennifer Jones is on the trail of something big involving the enigmatic King of 125th Street. In our universe, two women, Amy and Evelyn, play pivotal roles, each on opposing sides and each with strange secret histories.
Rad seems to have a knack for ending up in trouble, but public enemy number one? How did he manage that?
That would be telling! But things have changed - we’re now 18 months on from Empire State and in our universe it’s now 1954. The political climate in the US is very different, and there are some people who now think Rad - and his associates - are a threat.
I was very fond of Captain Carson and his mysterious companion, Byron. Will we see them in The Age Atomic? I always felt just the two of them were a story waiting to be told.
I love those two, and they have a whole backstory which is only hinted at in Empire State. Whether they are in The Age Atomic or not... I’m going to have to plead the Fifth. Again.
I know, annoying, right?
To me Empire State stood of because of the fantastic atmosphere you created in the city, will Empire State feature anything in the sequel?
The Age Atomic is set both in the Empire State and in New York City - possibly more in our universe, the Origin, than in the Pocket. But we see more of the Empire State and we learn more about the Pocket universe itself, and what (aside from the lands of the Enemy) might lie further out in the fog.
Looking back at my questions I can't help noticing they are mostly about what I will recognise in the new book. What are the advantages and disadvantages of writing a sequel?
I’ve never written a sequel before, so it’s been a learning experience! You have to balance the story so people who haven’t read the first book will still be able to pick up what is going on without the story grinding to a halt every few pages in exposition, but on the other hand people who have read Empire State want something familiar but new at the same time. It’s great to return to a setting and characters I love, and I’ve found it very easy to slip back into their shoes.
You also (as I mentioned before) have to write a story that needs to be written, not just for the sake of it, and you have to show that to the reader. But The Age Atomic is something I’m very excited about. It’s a brand new adventure, picking up a few threads remaining from Empire State but pushing on into something entirely new.
A sentient circus? What on earth inspired this?
Actually it’s more a sentient fairground – y’know, Ferris wheel, merry-go-round, etc, all the mechanical bits that might be attached to a circus or fun fair. The whole circus itself does play a central role in Hang Wire, but I can’t say any more than that at the moment!
It does sounds interesting, a little mad, with a serial killer and an ancient evil. Who is the good guy/gal?
Hang Wire is about a guy called Ted, a reporter at a local newspaper in San Francisco. He gets caught up in an unusual event in a Chinatown restaurant on his birthday, and soon after starts to experience lost time, waking up in strange places with no memory of how he got there, often with mysterious bruises and other minor injuries. His girlfriend – and fellow reporter – Alison and the paper’s new intern Benny try and help Ted, not realising the danger they’re putting themselves in.
I feel the need to label things, but the Hang Wire is difficult to place in just one box? Where would you place it?
I think it’s urban fantasy, for sure – there’s magic and ancient gods and powers, and we learn something of San Francisco’s secret history. It’s one of my favourite places in the world and it’s a lot of fun setting a novel in and around it. So I guess now that I’ve got two books in New York and two books in California, I need to go for somewhere in the middle next – I wonder if anybody has ever set an SF novel in Lebanon, Kansas?
Actually, that gives me an idea…
Would it be fair to say that Hang Wire will be a move away from noir, superheroes and science fiction?
Yes, but I don’t tend to label myself as a writer in any specific field except “genre” anyway, which is a pretty broad definition. Empire State and to a certain extent The Age Atomic are noir-ish science fiction. Seven Wonders is all-out superheroes (which is a weird genre which really mixes science fiction and urban fantasy), and Hang Wire is a more mythology/magic-based urban fantasy. So I tend to mix it up a bit - it seems more fun that way!
What excites you the most with this new setting?
Mixing the weird and fantastic with the ordinary is a lot of fun, and I guess that’s what urban fantasy is all about (and likewise the superhero setting of Seven Wonders). San Francisco is a real place you can visit... but maybe there is something hidden from view. That’s the appeal of any story set more or less in our own world.
Thank you Adam for answering my questions.