Interview with Gareth L. Powell (STARS AND BONES)
We’ve been a bit sneaky here at the Hive and, despite sharing a review from Lucy of Stars and Bones for the blog tour, we’ve managed to snag five minutes with Gareth for a quick Q&A! Be sure to also check out today’s stops on the blog tour:
Gareth L. Powell writes science fiction about extraordinary characters wrestling with the question of what it means to be human. He has won and been shortlisted for several major awards, and his Embers of War novels are currently being adapted for television.
He is also a magazine columnist, digital artist, and script writer for screen and comics.
Welcome to the Hive, Gareth! Your new book Stars And Bones is coming out with Titan Books this March. Would you be able to tell us a bit about it?
It’s set 75 years in the future, after the human race has been kicked off the Earth in order to let the planet recover from our abuse. Set adrift in a fleet of arks, humanity soon runs into trouble when a small scouting expedition discovers a crashed alien starship and unleashes something dangerous.
Stars And Bones features a talking cat, the Embers of War series has the sentient spaceship Trouble Dog, and there’s Ack Ack Macaque, the cigar smoking, gun-toting monkey from your first trilogy. What draws you to these nonhuman characters?
They’re a lot of fun to write, and it’s good to have other perspectives through which to comment on the action.
Stars and Bone and the Embers of War trilogy are space opera, as is your first novel The Recollection. What drew you to this genre, and why do you think it is having a renaissance (your books, Ann Leckie, Becky Chambers, Emma Newman and more!) at the moment?
I think space opera is the background radiation of the genre. It never really goes away, it’s always rumbling around, and about once every generation, it flares into brightness as a new crop of writers break through and reinterpret it for their particular time and place.
As well as space opera, your Ack Ack Macaque books blur the lines between cyberpunk and alternate history, and your novella Ragged Alice is a supernatural-tinged thriller set in rural Wales. Do you enjoy experimenting with genre, and do you always know which genre a story will be in when you start writing it?
I write the stories that call to me most strongly. When I started Ragged Alice, it was supposed to be a Lee Child-like thriller. Obviously, it took some strange detours…
Both Ack Ack Macaque and Embers of War won the BSFA Award for best novel the year they were released. What was that like?
Both wins were hugely gratifying, as they felt like a validation of my work. The fact the award is voted for by fans also makes it extra special.
Last year your novella Light Chaser came out, co-written with Peter F. Hamilton. How did that collaboration come about, and how did you find the experience of writing with a legend of SF?
Peter and I appeared at a number of events together and became friends. I think I raised the idea of a collaboration, but I didn’t expect him to agree so readily. We came up with a plot and characters, and decided which scenes each of us would write. It was hugely enjoyable, and it meant I got to read new Peter F. Hamilton material before anyone else!
Trouble Dog from Embers of War is a former warship, and the ship and crew are misfits from the war living with the guilt and trauma of violence and trying to build a new life for themselves. Can you talk a bit about the theme of redemption in these books?
The characters in that trilogy are all trying to find ways to go on living after cataclysmic upheavals in their worlds. Some endured injury and loss, others committed terrible atrocities, and the emotional journey of the books follows the way each of them finds to live with their actions and experiences.
About Writing, your field guide to writing and publishing, is coming out in an expanded edition from Gollancz later this year as well. Would you be able to tell us a bit about that?
The expanded edition is twice the length of the previous version that was released by Luna Press in 2019. The original material has been revised and updated, and the added material covers everything from finding the initial idea for your book through to selling it online.
On Twitter and in person you are so encouraging to other writers and fans alike. Is being a positive part of the SFF community important to you?
I’m a big believer that what you put out into the world influences what you get back, so I always try to treat others the way they would like to be treated.
What’s next for Gareth L. Powell?
I’m currently working on a sequel to Stars and Bones. After that, who knows? The sky’s the limit…