Archive for Interviews
Last month, WorldCon played host to several Angry Robot authors, and I was able to sit down with Chuck Wendig and Adam Christopher to talk about their new books. We also brainstormed the next books they will be writing. Listen to find out.
Not for kids.
We’re back with a live intro with Lee Harris at WorldCon, and an interview with Madeline Ashby, the author of vN, out last month from Angry Robot!
We bowled at WorldCon. It wasn’t pretty.
Madeline Ashby‘s sublime science fiction novel vN is, even as you read this, powering in vast container lorries to every corner of the globe, ready for its publication at the start of August. Madeline herself has been out and about talking about the genesis and writing and themes of her book, so we thought it would also be interesting to catch up with the guy who did that amazing cover, Martin Bland.
We’d seen his work on Gavin Smith’s military SF novels for Gollancz, and marvelled at some stunning darkly futuristic work displayed on his website. He was surely the go-to guy for this job, and that turned out to be exactly the right decision. He kindly clambered up from his underground bunker to answer a few probey-probey questions…
What do you call yourself – graphic artist, illustrator, designer, part-time spacecadet, etc?
Just “Artist”. I have a hard time cornering myself into the usual suspects, and ‘visual storyteller’ doesn’t look great on a business card. Part concept artist, part illustrator, part fine artist; it’s easier to cut out the niches than to try and find one.
How did you get into “all this”?
Natural progression, I was always creative, loved my pencil work when I was younger, fell into the social chasm for ten years, then was offered the chance to find something I loved doing by my wife, worked my way through design, photo manipulation, web design and eventually found my stride in painting. It felt right straight away. Taught myself the basics, and continue to teach myself every day since.
What’s your balance of artwork – covers, graphics, editorial, personal stuff, etc?
I have worked in just about every area at some point, collaborated with some great people in most fields of art, magazine ad campaigns, album design, game concepts, portraiture etc. I do favour cover jobs though, CD and book, as I love to tell a story in a single image rather than a progression or sequence, and like a healthy balance between work and personal (personal turns into work with print sales).
What’s your typical approach to a piece, if you have one? Computer or sketches?
90% of any image I do is mental, I think a lot about how I am going to construct, and often see a completed image in my head long before pen touches surface, then it’s usually digital, blocking in large areas and refining details as I go, using form and values; I don’t tend to start with a sketch (in the traditional sense of the word, line art), a more organic approach works better for me.
Do you typically like a brief stuffed with detail, or the freedom to do whatever you want?
A bit of both really, it’s important to be able to visualise someone else’s idea, so the more information you get, the easier it is to nail it first time, I like a lot of visual stimulus, style guides. Setting the mood is more important than the details of subject matter. A good amount of freedom is always nice to have but I like to get the sketch stage down, and agreed upon, before I get to play around myself. That way, the changes are taken care of before the refining; it streamlines the process, I have enough of a library behind me for the client to know they will be getting my usual standard or better.
And how did you work on vN particularly?
It was a dream brief. I was given choice, style sheets, and a detailed description, and also a lot of freedom and trust in the later stages, Madeline had built a very believable world, rich with detail, so the excerpts I received were easy to absorb, and Marc’s art direction was great. Madeline had written somewhere that when she saw the cover, she saw Amy (the protagonist) – there’s no better feeling than that.
What’s a typical day, if you have one?
I’m a full time Dad, so my typical day is rather boring, full of homework and school runs, I fit my work around my son, and work from home, so it’s definitely not as “rockstar” as I’d like to imagine it is, I also procrastinate far too much… ooh, a biscuit.
Are you much of an SF fan yourself?
I’d like to say no, but all evidence points to yes :-). I like gritty, dark worlds that you can relate to and instantly believe, so I love the Blade Runner, Event Horizon, Dark City side of sci-fi, the Asimov side. I’m not the hugest fan of anything in particular, but I think that in itself adds a more unique twist to my own work in the genre, as I try my best to approach subjects with a fresh perspective – there are a million paths to tread but only one is mine.
What would you kill to illustrate?
My own IP. I have a project that hasn’t been put down to paper properly yet, a novel/screenplay/movie that has garnered interest from a couple of major movie studios, and almost optioned, just on the strength of the few images and brief idea/backstory pitched. I would love to bring it to fruition one day; illustrating/producing a movie based on my own art would pretty much be the pinnacle of my existence, and would make my kid proud.
Anything you really hate/struggle with drawing?
Not as far as subject matter goes, I can handle pretty much anything. If I can imagine it, then I can paint it, in my own style. I’ve painted everything from angels, to death metal covers, from an English country garden to a huge Yeti. I have been asked to take on work in other styles, and have struggled with it before, like colouring line art, or very technical perspectives and constraints. (I was once asked to paint, from imagination, a 20mm aperture lens view; couldn’t fathom that one, as I am not a camera.)
For vN you went absolutely bananas building robot fragments in the computer; is this sort of thing conducive to your mental health?
Well, they say the devil is in the details, so I’m probably 80% evil :-). I love getting stuck into it, if I’m honest. The best way to get someone to spend more time looking at an image is to pack it with detail, more to discover, and it gets quite cathartic after a while, you lose yourself, I haven’t noticed any problems yet. *twitch*
Tell us about five (or more) cool things – music, movies, comics, books, toys, whatever…
I do have quite a cool collection of tiny things, as I’m a sucker for detail – like a penny, with a bone-handled knife carved out of the middle and sat perfectly back into its hole, and a 2mm high, full colour printed book. I’ve got a couple of 6mm Bibles too, a bag of 1.5mm glass marbles. I’ve amassed quite a good gathering of very unusual miniatures. I’m also very good at collecting dust, and empty Pepsi bottles.
Which other artists do you rate?
I tend to rate the art, rather than artists, as the best can have an off-day, and the worst can produce a masterpiece. I see hundreds of images each day, and collecting the best of them has turned into a bit of a hobby. I have folders packed with inspiring imagery from every level of artist.
Do you have any other skills? What would you do if you didn’t do this?
I would always have to have a creative outlet of some sort, I do a bit of everything: sculpture, photography, traditional, so I think I would always gravitate towards making things look good. I was a manager/lithographic printer for 10 years too, so at the very worst, I could fall back into that, but it would have to get quite bad, haha.
And what are you working on next (don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone)?
I’ve just acquired a small stock of giclée poster prints so I’m currently approaching galleries and organising shipping and framing options, starting to turn what I do into more of a legitimate business, expanding that side – but also working on more covers, and also trying to pump out a few personal images as I feel like I’ve been neglecting that side of things this year.
Click on any image for a larger version – and see a hell of a lot more great artwork at Martin’s website, spyroteknik.com
So yes, we love Joey HiFi. His artwork for Moxyland, the UK Zoo City and Blackbirds has blown us away, and just today we have taken receipt of his latest piece, the cover for Chuck Wendig’s second AR novel Mockingbird. And lo, here it is (click for awesome massiveness):
It’s time to talk to David Tallerman about Giant Thief, and Lee and Amanda discuss the recent SFX Weekender and the upcoming open submission time.
Is it the weekend already? Phew! So here’s the plan: tomorrow, bright and early, get yourself to a bookstore. Find that great section at the back or up the right side where those extra-lovely books are… and buy some books. Could be ours, could be other peoples’ – but you know you want them, you know you need them. Make them yours, bring them home, job done.
So anyway, you may just have noticed that the damn righteous Dead Harvest is due out any moment. Meet the man behind it as Angry Robot’s Chuck Wendig talks to Angry Robot’s Chris F Holm at Terribleminds.com (we really do get everywhere). Meanwhile, Chris also talked to Elizabeth A. White about how he found his inspiration for the book’s protagonist in Hell and offered some sage advice for would-be Thriller writers over at the ITW’s The Thrill Begins blog.
On SFFWorld.com, Mark Yon took a good, long look at Dead Harvest and declared it highly recommendable: “In a crowded world of Urban Fantasy, it’s difficult to make an impression amongst the many, many tales out there. However, as far as urban fantasy goes, this is one of the most assured debuts I’ve read since first reading Jim Butcher’s first Dresden.”
Dead Harvest was also reviewed over at sheneverslept.com, where it scored a perfect five out of five tentacles: “Dead Harvest grabbed and held me from beginning to end. Chris F. Holm has crafted a nicely dark urban fantasy with a truly unique protagonist”. Likewise, blogger Elizabeth A. White was suitably impressed, saying: “Holm takes a pinch of fantasy, a little supernatural, a dash of hardboiled crime fiction, and blends them into a pitch-perfect adventure in a way that is nothing short of authorial alchemy.”
Plus, Dead Harvest was profiled by Eric Beetner for CriminalElement.com‘s Fresh Meat files and reviewed by blogger Stephen West. And the frankly rather awesome cover art triumphed in the February Cover Wars over at The Qwillery (and we know that Chris wanted that one, badly).
The very friendly David Tallerman was interviewed by Sci-Fi Fan Letter and also talked to SFSignal.com about the not-so-secret ingredient in Giant Thief. And you can have a go at winning a copy of Giant Thief, courtesy of Fantasy Book Review.
Upcoming Titanic/30 Days of Night mash-up sensation Carpathia by the superb Matt Forbeck was reviewed by lovevampires.com, Starburst magazine and Adventures Fantastic. And just as this round-up was going to press… um, screen, the chaps on Lightsaber Ratting were so taken with it they suggested “there is no way that this book doesn’t become a movie”, and the venerable Starburst said “Fans of Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula will find a lot to love here, as will anyone who prefers their horror with a hint of claustrophobia.”
And even fuuuurther out, Mister Mike Shevdon gave his first interview for a while to SFF World, looking at the Courts of the Feyre series so far and previewing this June’s upcoming Strangeness & Charm – together with a review of book one in the series, Sixty-One Nails.
Gav Thorpe talked to The Shell Case about his work in the Warhammer universe, as well as the forthcoming conclusion to his Crown of the Blood saga: The Crown of the Usurperand his plans for the future. He also did valuable service on his own blog, crunching the numbers on classic fantasy tropes: http://mechanicalhamster.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/elf-preservation-part-one/
And finally, over at fellow imprint Strange Chemistry, chatterbox and editor Amanda Rutter revealed some of the science and much of the art of reading submissions. She also talked all things Strange and Chemical over at the Intergalactic Academy.
So much going on! You might as well give away your TV and your Xbox, you know. Books are the past, the present and definitely the future!
We’re back from our hiatus, with a bit of a format change. I’m joined in my hosting duties by Lee and Marco, who talk about where Angry Robot is right now, and then we talk to author Peter Crowther of Darkness Falling (out now!) We cover the book, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, and the Twilight Zone (both the classic and the 1985 version.) After we talk to Pete, you get a peek at the audiobook!
Aaand she made this lovely trailer for this latest Acatl novel too. Studio roll VT:
Aaaaaaaaand she’s running a really cool Aztec-themed competition on her blog. Check it out and win win win, as apparently they say!
Lovely Lauren Beukes, modestly not mentioning much about her massive, massive new book deal (me and her mother, Mrs Harris, are so damn proud), was interviewed by Bruce Sterling. Yes, that Bruce Sterling.
The lovely KW Jeter was Guest of Honor at Steamcon III recently. Check out the pics and a great write up from Steampunk News. We think all our authors should get an official convention photo done with a girl with a boat on her head. No, just because.
And finally, no skateboarding puppies this week, but instead the lovely Lavie Tidhar gave great podcast for the Skiffy & Fanty Show in this discussion of his new novel Osama. It’s not by us, but it’s bloody great so fair dues and all that.
For those of you eagerly awaiting the conclusion to the Knights of Breton Court trilogy by Maurice Broaddus (the final volume, King’s War, is out in November), Maurice has crafted a novella set on the same streets (between books 1 and 2) and it is being published as a limited edition hardback by Delirium Books. This is Maurice in full-on horror mode (as opposed to the street-savvy urban fantasy of the novels). Pre-order yours here.
Talking of other people’s books – if you like steampunk, be sure to pick up a copy of The Immersion Book of Steampunk, which features tales from Angry Robot’s very own Lavie Tidhar and Aliette de Bodard.
Trent Jamieson will be having a book launch on September 15th (presented by Kylie Chan). More details from his blog, as it’s posted.
Lauren Beukes has a swanky new website over at
And it’s Angry Robot Week over at The Secret Lair!
And they’ve just published the results of their haiku competition!
The Secret Lair is a bit of a misnomer – it’s actually really easy to find – here, for example. Not much of a secret, really, but we don’t mind – we’d prefer you to be able to actually find it. Partly because it’s a great blog, and partly because this week they’re running an Angry Robot Week.
Every day this week you’ll find reviews, interviews and commentary on some of the things Angry Robot are up to. For example:
There’s a Haiku Contest, where you can win five cool Angry Robot books.
There’s a review of the classic Morlock Night (recently reprinted by Angry Robot).
There’s an overview of our Nano Editions (short stories by our authors).
And today there’s an interview with Empire State author, Adam Christopher.
Go visit them every day this week for further goodies.
On Saturday 13th August, that freakishly-talented Ms Lauren Beukes is in London, en route to the World Science Fiction Convention in Reno, and various interviews and readings in New York and San Francisco.
The event starts at 1.00pm, and by pre-ordering tickets (which are free), you can enter the draws to win Zoo City prizes, including a great Zoo City T-shirt, featuring Joey’s artwork. You don’t need a ticket to attend the event – just to be in with a chance to win the prizes.