Sunday, April 12, 2020

Twitter Interview

I took part in an interview about War of the Maps over on Twitter this week. What follows is a transcription of the questions and answers. Some questions are from my publisher (Gollancz); others are from readers -- I've used their first names rather than their Twitter handles. I am, of course, 'PM'. Spelling mistakes and abbreviations have been tidied up; otherwise the answers are as I typed them up at the time, with only a brief pause (or none at all) for reflection; as in a face-to-face conversation, there is, I hope, a nice degree of spontaneity.

Gollancz: Firstly, to kick things off, tell us a little about yourself.
PM: Old white guy who has just published his, what, 22nd, 23rd? novel. Now working on the next one, as I still haven't learnt any better.

G: Speaking of novel ideas...can you briefly tell our followers what War of the Maps is about? 
PM: Deep time, obsession, the fine line between justice and revenge, things falling apart.

Lucy: What was the inspiration behind the world building? 
PM: From the initial ideas? The central character is journeying across a country not his own. Apart from a few facts -- scale, a very basic history and so on -- the details of the world developed through the people and situations he encountered. I had no idea that there would be giant crabs until they popped up. The background is borrowed from a research paper about building relatively small Dyson spheres around white dwarf stars. What if the white dwarf star was the sun, in terminal decline? And that merged with a picture of a wounded lawkeeper pausing at a desert spring, in a country not his own.

Lara: Why did you chose to create the word 'lucidor'?
PM: I needed to translate an official rank that doesn't exist in our culture or time. 'Lucidor' sounds a little like some ancient title, I hope.

Lara: It is biologically possible to get 'infected' by an outer world plague?
PM: Depends on whether panspermia is true or not. That is, if the off-world plague has its roots in a biology that shares a common ancestor with ours. But it's difficult to catch stuff from most animals (eg ants), let alone plants; more so for something separated by billions of years. My old novel The Secret of Life turns on this question, by the way.

Borja: Would you say War of Maps is fantasy, science fiction or both?
PM: Science fction, definitely. The thing about the far future isn't that anything is possible, but anything that is possible may have already happened. Which does inform the lives of the people inhabiting an improbably (but possible) large structure.

Andy: Do you write while listening to music, and does this book, for you, have a soundtrack?
PM: Some of my books do have a fairly specific ambience, but War of the Maps didn't, especially. Apart from frequent periods of silence.

Lara: In this book you use the word MAP with different meanings (DNA, islands...) It was a conscious decision or it was playing with words?
 PM: Oh, that was conscious. I didn't plan in a huge amount of detail, but the nature of the invasion was clear to me before I began. As was the title.

G: What is your current quarantine reading? 
PM: A lot of crime novels (currently rifling through Denise Mina’s work). And some nonfiction research for the next novel, such as David Farrier's In Search of Future Fossils.

G: If you didn’t write science fiction, what other genre would you be interested in dipping into? 
PM: Well, I have written a couple of crime/thriller novels. Players, Mind's Eye etc. And although I've written a fair number of horror stories (my way of dealing with the happening world), I haven't yet written a straightahead supernatural novel.

 G: If you could pick a character from a different author/film’s work and put them into the lucidor’s world, who would you choose? 
PM: Clint Eastwood, maybe. His lone avengers, especially from Pale Rider and High Plains Drifter, do inform the lucidor's character. Although the lucidor isn't as remorseless, or otherworldly.

G: Avoiding spoilers, but do you have a favourite moment in War of the Maps
PM: One of the quieter passages. Perhaps when the lucidor is walking through the coastal landscape, after the spot of trouble with the diggers. It has a bit of (M.R.) Jamesian hauntology, that passage. The novel and its world are patchworks.

4 Comments:

Blogger Brian said...

Thanks for this. You should have Gollancz reach out to the Coode Street Podcast to have Gary or Jonathan do a 10 minute interview with you. Great opportunity to discuss the new book (I'm about 40% into it).

April 12, 2020 11:02 pm  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

I participated in a Coode Street podcast back in 2013, at the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton. Another world, another time.
https://jonathanstrahan.podbean.com/e/episode-169-live-with-paul-mcauley/

April 13, 2020 9:41 am  
Blogger Brian said...

Yep, and that was 7 years ago so you need to get on there again. They do mention you from time to time, so please ask them! Don't be shy!

BTW, just finished 'Maps and it was a great read!

April 15, 2020 5:03 am  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

In fact, I'm recording something for Coode Street tonight. (I didn't have to ask, but maybe yr comment was seen. Or maybe it's coincidence; Coode Street is getting together a new feature involving a good number of authors in the coming weeks.)

April 15, 2020 7:36 am  

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