Friday, September 25, 2009

Interview with Andy Remic

Many of you will remember the recent review of Kell’s Legend, the sixth novel from Andy Remic. After enjoying the book, I got the opportunity to ask him a few questions. Enjoy!

Rem, thank you for the interview!

First off, I want to congratulate you on your latest novel, Kell's Legend, out from Angry Robot Press. That is very exciting news! This seems to be a step away from your other books, at least in regards to the much more blatant fantasy elements. How was it different working in a fantasy environment? Or, was that not as far a reach, as many of the characteristics you've become know for, including top-notch action and a certain attitude or style, were just as prevalent in Kell's Legend as in your Combat K or Spiral novels?

The truth is, I started off writing fantasy a long time ago. Then I wrote SF and thrillers, was published in that arena and quickly pigeon-holed; after a few books publishers want you to write for your established fan base – which is fine. But I still always hankered after my first love – fantasy. When Angry Robot hunted me down, that was the pitch I made.

In terms of writing style, I just write. There are some differences in terms of setting and weaponry, but the same emotions and motivations and energy drive the characters through all my books – greed, sex, violence, the usual normal average human traits. So that’s why there’s still a lot of fast-paced action and gore in the new fantasy books - the attitude from my earlier books is still prevalent. This is hardcore fantasy, my friend.

Can you tell us a little bit about your other series, as I at least haven't yet delved into them (but after Kell's Legend, it is something I plan to do)?

My Combat K books are kick-ass action-adventure SF extravaganzas. They involve a corrupt and slightly insane combat squad who go on a variety of missions and wreak havoc. There is Keenan, the straight guy tortured by the death of his kids; Franco, the sexually perverse mad ginger nutcase, and Pippa, slightly deranged and the toughest Lara-Croft type woman alive. Let me give you a taste of the new book out in January, HARDCORE: Sick World was a planet dedicated to the ill, the deformed, the dying and the dead. Humanity as an organism was not the most durable chassis. After mixing it up with aliens, the human shell developed a host of unwanted and incurable ailments… esoteric diseases, curious viruses, life-changing bugs, vomit-inducing deformations. So a beautiful planet, Sick World, was terraformed with limitless funding, state-of-the-art research centres, gleaming wards and towering operating theatres providing unparalleled care, a perfection of medicine and a pinnacle of repair for the plethora of grotesque diseases and mutating conditions. However, a thousand years ago something happened, and the planet was evacuated in totality. Today, it lies uninhabited. Combat K: Keenan, Franco and Pippa, forced by implanted logic cubes into an unholy alliance of cooperation. Mission: to infiltrate Sick World and carry out a simple fact-finding mission prior to SLAM excavations to research the new Junk threat. It should have been safe, simple, secure. As the first day fades, so a long hibernation ends. The Medical Staff of Sick World, the doctors, the nurses, the patients, those abandoned long ago, a thousand year gestation of hardcore medical mutation and accelerated healthcare technology… they can smell fresh meat, and begin to awake … HARDCORE: You’ll never look at a nurse the same way again!

The SPIRAL trilogy books are more out and out action thriller, with only a taste of SF elements and starring a schizophrenic psychopathic anti-hero, Carter, and his alter-ego, Kade. Think Tom Clancy without the long boring bits. So, the blurb for SPIRAL runs: In a future where nuclear warheads can be hidden in a suitcase … In a world where designer plagues are held suspended in a teardrop … Prepare for chaos. Where conventional armies are powerless to defend against a single assassin, the secret organisation known as SPIRAL exists to fight a shadow war against fanatics and rogue states of every faith and political persuasion. Remorseless, unstoppable, of every country and of none, SPIRAL’s agents conduct their covert operations throughout the world in a never-ending battle for civilisation’s survival. But now SPIRAL itself is under attack. And if SPIRAL falls, the world falls with it …

David Gemmell, the father of modern heroic fantasy, is obviously an important inspiration for Kell's Legend. Just how has he impacted this novel? Who/what else has been an inspiration for Kell's Legend?

Because of Dave, I started writing; and started writing fantasy. I bought LEGEND when I was 15 and my perspective changed. I’d read Lord of the Rings, but this was different – gritty, violent, real. So yes, DG had a massive impact on me. It was a great honour to correspond with him, and also meet him on several occasions which culminated in getting drunk in his hotel room.

In terms of inspiration, I try and write my own stuff. I don’t read widely in the fantasy genre (except for Gemmell, which I re-read a lot). In some ways I don’t want to absorb stuff unconsciously, so I read a lot of non-fantasy books like Bill Bryson, George Orwell, Iain Banks and Tom Sharpe.

You are a Gemmell fan, but who else do you read in and out of heroic fantasy?

In the past, I lapped up Michael Moorcock’s (Von Bek is a great anti-hero!) entire output, plus I loved Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts work, both with the Midkemia books and their Daughter of the Empire series. I also love Terry Pratchett’s books. He makes me laugh so much!!

Besides the next Clockwork Vampire Chronicles novel (which we will get to in just a moment), what else do you have coming up?

Ahh, a few secret projects. Just need to speak to the new editor of Solaris first (as the imprint was recently bought by Rebellion). I’ll probably be writing SF for Solaris/Rebellion, and Fantasy for Angry Robot. That’s the plan anyway, but we’ll see what happens!!

Since finishing Kell's Legend, I have found it to be one of those books that, while I always liked it, I never knew just how much I liked it until I didn't have any more of it to read. So when are we going to be seeing the next book in the series? Can you give us any hints on what is to come?

That’s very kind of you. The second Clockwork Vampire book, SOUL STEALERS, is practically finished prior to editing, and will be out Spring 2010. The third book is all planned (in my head) and I know how the trilogy ends. Oh, I do have some beautiful stuff to put in there, that’s for sure! Skinless horses! Midwife Cankers! The ideas just keep flowing, and get more and more gruesome with every glass of whiskey.

Normally I wrap up with something like "And finally, what's next for Andy Remic and Kell?" but I covered that already, so...any final words?

I’d like to just mention something I blogged recently in response to some negative digs on Amazon – with reference to me supposedly “ripping off” David Gemmell.

“There’s a couple of reviews on Amazon which just don’t get the fact that I wanted to write a tribute. They seem to think I’m trying to rip off DG by using phrases like “Laddie” and “Old Horse” in my text. No. This is supposed to be a tribute for those in the “know”. Yes, I have a character like Druss – but conversely, not like Druss, as will be revealed by the end of Book 3!! The whole point was that in KELL’S LEGEND I had a traditional stereotype aged fantasy warrior, partnered with a dandy bisexual sycophant so that their banter would be amusing; which I hope it is. But then I also merged this with what I consider an original fantasy concept: that of Clockwork Vampires, and their deviated and accelerated clockwork technology. What I didn’t do was sit down and think: I’m rewriting LEGEND. Because that would be impossible. LEGEND is unique (although my personal fave of DG is LION OF MACEDON – a book I think is actually 100% perfect. I remember telling him at the time; and even now, it has stood the test of time). Anyway, what do you think? Did I rip off Big Dave Gemmell? A man I totally admired and was one of the only guys I thought of as a personal hero? I really hope not. When he died, me and Ian Graham built a fire and toasted the great man to the Hall of Heroes with a bottle of whiskey. No other writer will ever get that treatment from me.”


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