Interview with the writer Andrew Weston —
1.Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Andrew Weston and I am a Royal Marine and Police veteran from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with my wife, Annette, and our growing family of rescue cats. An astronomy and law graduate, I am a contracted writer of fiction and poetry. My latest novel, The IX, (The Ninth) has become an international #1 bestseller, and I’m thrilled at the interest it seems to be attracting across the genres. As well as having the privilege of being a member of the British Science Fiction Association and British Fantasy Society, I devote some of my spare time to assisting NASA in one of their remote research projects, and I write educational articles for Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories.
2. Why writing?
Because my inner demons would drive me crazy if I didn’t. I’ve always wanted to write, but a busy lifestyle at school, college, and then on into my working life strangled any opportunity to realize my dream. It wasn’t until I was injured on duty at work and forced to retire early that I suddenly found myself gifted with a wealth of time. Needless to say, I put it to good use, and now, I have a plethora of characters and ideas all queuing to have their stories told.
3. What is your earliest memory of wanting to be a writer?
As I recall, I was five years old, and had just completed Gulliver’s Travels (yes, I know that’s young, but I could read before I went to school). I loved the premise of the story, and decided there and then that, one day, I’d write my own story of high adventure against overwhelming odds. It took a few years, but I got there.
4. What are your favorite subject(s) and style(s)?
Without a doubt, that would be science fiction and fantasy. Although many people feel science fiction has stagnated in recent years, I feel it’s a genre that allows tremendous flexibility. (As indeed, does fantasy). You can have all the action and adventure you want, and still find room for political intrigue, criminal thrills, historical drama, and romance. It has everything an enquiring mind needs to flourish. That’s why I had such fun with The IX. It’s a fast flowing science-fiction opera of magnificent scope, whose premise is based in actual history. What became of the lost ninth legion of Rome? Wow, what a subject to be let loose on.
5. How do you work and approach your subject?
I’m something of a contradiction. Before I start work, I engage in a great deal of research. The premise of The IX, for example, took three months of dedicated hard graft to nail down. Once that was completed, I drafted out a rough plan. I call it a plot map. I know where the journey begins, where it ends, and the important ports of call in between.
However, once the voyage is underway, I allow the protagonists/antagonists and the story itself to take on a life of their own. That’s important. If your story fails to become animated, then it’s certainly not going to entertain your readers. So, as mine come to life, I allow the characters and all the unexpected twists and turns to lead me where they will. I’ve been amazed on a number of occasions, as this technique helps me come up with some imaginative plot changes and tweaks that I’d have otherwise missed.
6. What are your favorite written works, writers?
I have a wide taste, so I’ll start with something enduring, Stephen Donaldson.
His depth of writing is outstanding. I don’t know if you’ve ever read any of his work, but his vocabulary is enigmatic. And while his plots are incredibly complex, they are vividly portrayed. He builds tension in a way I’ve never seen in other novelists, and he is a literary god. Absolutely superb. I can only aspire to his level of achievement. (And yes, over the past thirty-six years, I’ve collected all his books)
Another author who has inspired me over the decades is Raymond E. Feist.
His vision is epic, and his ability to create living, stunning, and relatable worlds, protagonists/antagonists, etc, is second to none. A wonderful example too, of weaving multiple characters into a story and not neglecting a single one of them. My bookshelves are full of his work.
Now, if I went back in time, then 1984 & Animal Farm by George Orwell would certainly be on my list. The allegorical messages contained within those tales are an extremely accurate reflection on the divisive nature of society. We have the tendency to fracture ourselves in a multitude of ingenious ways that never ceases to amaze me. If only we’d learn the lesson he so cleverly portrayed within their pages, the world would be a better place.
To round my selection up, I’d like to include a novel I’ve only recently finished reading.
I the Sun, by Janet Morris. A very absorbing – semi autobiographical – life’s journey of an actual historical character as told from his own perspective, combining fiction with authentic records recovered from his reign. I must say, if you’re looking for a quality read, one that is as meticulously researched and historically factual as it is intellectually stimulating, then look no further. The journey of Suppiluliumas’ life will keep you enthralled to the very end.
7. What are the best responses you have had to your work?
I’ll include some “shortened” brief clips here from the leading lights of speculative fiction. It will give you an accurate idea as to the nature of the responses The IX is drawing:
Weston deftly weaves the horrors of the Horde stealing human life-essences, with the beauty of his prose and imagery. I was right there, on Arden, while reading. Action-packed through every chapter, the story unfolds as former enemies are forced to learn how to trust each other, to trust the visions and experiences of those who walk the spirit-world, and to share information. I highly recommend this book to fans of SF/fantasy, & horror.
The IX has taken me back to the books I enjoyed in my youth (Jerry Pournelle’s King David’s Spaceship or Gordon R. Dickson’s Hour of the Horde) It flows wonderfully. There’s constant motion, and Weston takes the story in unexpected directions that are intriguing and fun. If you’re in need of some fast-paced storytelling, lots of action, and an army of characters drawn from Earth’s past and future, The IX should serve you well.
Weston knows how to keep the reader on the edge of the seat without feeling as though the mission will never end. This is a complex combination of history, imagination and science fiction magic as is available today. A strong book by a solid author.
Grady Harp: Hall of Fame/Top 100 /Vine Reviewer
When it comes to science fiction, I want a book that captures me from page one and never gives me a reason to want to escape. I want a book that forces me to stay up until 3 a.m., because there is no point at which it is ideal to put it down. I want a book whose characters and plots are complex and intelligent, but elegantly crafted with the minimum of distraction. The IX delivers.
8. What do you like about your work?
I love the fact that I can see it improving with every novel I produce, and that it continues to bring pleasure to those who are drawn to read it. It’s so rewarding to witness its appeal to people across a broad spectrum of ages and backgrounds. What’s more, I’ve been told on a number of occasions that my work bridges the boundaries between genres. That’s exactly what I need to hear, as it helps me direct my energies along the right track, and spurs me on to greater efforts.
9. What advice would you give to other writers?
Never stop trying to improve your craft. You owe it to yourself and to your readers to be the very best you can be. That means continued hard work, application, and having the sense to listen to those who have more experience than you do, and who are in a better position to offer constructive criticism.
10. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
Where George R. R. Martin is now, only writing more books to keep the fans happy.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Andrew-P-Weston/e/B00F3BL6GS/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0