• USA Blog Tour - Day 2

    07 July 2020

    We had a little bit of late drama with my blog tour. At almost the last minute, the company that was organising the tour had to bow out (it's a long story, and I don't know all the ins and outs). Luckily my publicist Jennifer was able to step in and salvage most of the scheduled tour stops. The tour was meant to kick off with a post on the organiser's blog, and I answered a long list of questions in preparation for that. I thought it would be a shame not to share that Q&A, as I felt it was a really good interview, so here it is, in all its glory. The questions were posed by a lady called Patricia. The answers were supplied by a gentleman called Darren. :-)


    Can you briefly describe the ARCHIBALD LOX series and its characters?

    A young boy spots a girl racing across a bridge, being chased by a pair of killers. She stops and starts pulling strange faces. A doorway opens to another universe and she slips through it and escapes. Once the killers have left, the boy discovers that he has the power to reopen the doorway, and he follows the girl to the Merge, where he teams up with her. Together they cross worlds, and as Archie learns more about this very strange universe, he slowly becomes aware that that girl is on a perilous mission, and that he will play a key part in its success or failure…


    Who would you say is your favourite character from the story and why?

    There’s a character called Urszula in book 2, Archibald Lox and the Empress of Suanpan, who is a delightfully wicked villain. The bad guys are always the most fun to write about, but I especially relished Urszula’s evil deeds, because she’s named after my mother in law! (I actually get on really well with the real Urszula — I name lots of my characters after people that I know, and they’re always people that I like, even if I sometimes cast them in the villainous roles.


    How did the story occur to you? Did you find inspiration anywhere?

    I was walking across a bridge in London one day and saw a young woman pulling weird faces as she came towards me. I wondered why she was doing that, and something deep inside me suggested that she was doing it to open a gateway to another universe, and the whole story mushroomed from there.


    If you could choose one song to describe each of the books of the series, which ones would it be?

    There’s a little known Rolling Stones song, In Another Land, from their psychedelic album Their Satanic Majesties Request, that I think would be a good match for Book 1, Archibald Lox and the Bridge Between Worlds. It captures the weirdness that Archie encounters when he first teams up with Inez, the girl who was pulling faces on the bridge, in lines such as: “In another land where the breeze and the / Trees and flowers were blue / I stood and held your hand. And the grass grew high and the feathers floated by” and “We heard the trumpets blow and the sky / Turned red when I accidentally said / That I didn't know how I came to be here / Not fast asleep in bed.”


    Most of Book 2, Archibald Lox and the Empress of Suanpan, is set in a city of gamblers, the Merge’s version of Las Vegas, and Archie has to pit his wits against its wicked ruler, taking her on at a game of chance. Well, it’s supposed to be a game of chance, but she never loses! The perfect song for this one would be The Gambler, by Kenny Rogers, one of my favourite songs when I was a child.


    In Book 3, Archibald Lox and the Vote of Alignment, the end of Inez’s mission is in sight, but time is running out and Archie and Inez have hit a dead end and seem to have run out of options. The song that immediately popped into my head when I thought about it was the Madonna and Justin Timberlake song, 4 Minutes. “We only got 4 minutes to save the Merge!”


    If your book was going to be made into a movie, who would play your characters?

    I think it would probably be unknowns for Archie and Inez, but I have a few ideas for some of the other characters. I think Meryl Streep would be perfect as Urszula, the sweet-looking but heartless villain of Book 2. There’s a huge guy in the books called Cal, who becomes a friend and ally of Archie and Inez, and it might be fun to see Dwayne Johnson play him, though he’d have to tone things down quite a lot from his normal kind of role, as Cal is a shy, quiet giant. And there are a pair of killers, called Orlan and Argate, who haunt Archie and Inez as they travel across the Merge. I’d love to see them played by Dominic West and Idris Elba, as The Wire is one of my favourite TV series and it would be cool to see them re-teamed.


    What drink and place do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date?

    The Merge is a weird, colourful place, so I guess some kind of Rainbow cocktail would be an appropriate drink, and you’d need to drink it sitting in a field full of mushrooms, as there are a lot of mushroom-strewn fields in the Merge…


    Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish ARCHIBALD LOX?

    If they were interested in reading some of the books which influenced the way that I created the Merge, then I’d suggest the following. Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones. The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K Le Guin. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. And the Harry Potter books by J K Rowling.


    What would you say is the most difficult part of writing a book?

    For me the first draft is usually the most difficult part, as you begin with nothing and have to create the entire book a letter and word at a time. But with Archibald Lox, the editing was actually the hardest part. I wrote way more than I needed in the first draft. I basically just followed Archie and Inez around, making sense of the Merge as they went, and had Archie ask loads of questions, with Inez suplying loads of answers. That was great for helping me world build and work out the rules of the very complicated universe that I was creating, but it didn’t make for a pacy, exciting book! I went through about double the number of edits that I normally would, over the space of several years, slowly tightening things up, adding in more action, deciding what was essential and what could be cut. I normally love the editing process, but in this instance it was a huge relief when I finally tidied the book into shape and was able to put it aside and move on.


    What’s next for you?

    Volumes 2 and 3 of Archibald Lox. There will be three Volumes in total (the first three books form Volume 1). I’ve written the first draft of Volume 2 and have edited it a couple of times, and I’m well advanced on the first draft of Volume 3. They should both see the light of day over the course of the next couple of years, if all goes well.




    Mask up!!!


    That's the message of the day, and it even seems to have penetrated even Donald Trump's thick skull -- and before anyone has a go at me for having a go at the president of the United States, in my defense I will point out that he is always saying that "Nobody knows as much about xxxx as me" and boasting that he has the biggest hands of anyone and is the strongest and smartest of anyone, so surely we can all picture him proudly declaring, "Nobody has as thick a skull as me. My skull is... it's so thick, scientists want to take it when I die and cover America with it, because they say nothing could get through it, not even a nuclear bomb, or a new virus. It's something they're looking into. It's a beautiful skull. The best."


    Ahem. I digress.


    Anyway, as I said before the weekend, I asked my artistic Shansters if they could draw some of the characters from my books wearing masks, to help spread the idea that masks are not only essential as we move forwards, but that they can be pretty cool too. And the Shansters have come up trumps, in spades!! I'm going to be featuring a selection of the coolest characters in the coolest masks that the world has ever seen over the next week or so, starting with these three beauties, based on characters in my Demonata books. The first is drawn by a fan called Emma, and features Juni Swan, with the most perfectly apt of masks. The second and third are drawn by a fan called Jess, featuring young, punk Dervish (from his time in Demon Thief) and Artery, who has even gone so far as to cover up the mouths in his hands -- although one of those mouths is evidently feeling a bit peckish... :-)




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