TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Adam: Y'know, I'd love to say I get up at 3am, pour a shot of single malt, and write on yellow legal pad in red pen until the cat needs to be fed at 9am... but I suspect I'm the most unquirky writer around. I write to a routine, a couple of hours in the morning, a couple of hours in the evening. I write my drafts in Scrivener on my Macbook Air downstairs in the library, then I do the edits and rewrites upstairs at my desk in the office. I drink lots of tea. The cat is usually on hand to provide moral support by sleeping next to me/on my lap as I type.
I think I need to invent a quirk. Does writing in a superman bathrobe count? Because I totally do that. Hey, it's comfortable, and when you work at home you can wear your pyjamas all day if you want.
TQ: Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?
Adam: Stephen King, Lauren Beukes, Robert McCammon, Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker, Erin Morgenstern, Diana Rowland, Kurt Busiek, Gail Simone, Dan Abnett, Paul Cornell - actually I'm influenced probably in equal parts by prose and comic writers, and of course many write in both forms. I certainly split my reading between them.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Adam: Sort of half-half, I think! I think outlines are very important, although I tend not to write ones that are very detailed because when I start the actual writing, characters tend to take on a life of their own and do their own thing. Often, this isn't quite what I had in mind during the planning, so for me there is no point spending a lot of time writing a very detailed outline when I'm going to go off tangent anyway. Non-writers tend to think it's a little weird - how can a character do their own thing? You're the writer! - but when that happens, you (as a writer) know things are working well!
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Adam: Ha, sitting down and writing! Again, that's the same thing for lots of writers I think - it's very hard work. When it goes well, it's a dream. When it doesn't, it's like getting blood out of a stone. But that's the way it always will be, I know that! But there's no better feeling in the world than the satisfaction that comes from a good day's work.
TQ: Describe Empire State in 140 characters or less.
Adam: Rescued from masked agents by a dead superhero, PI Rad Bradley is called to find a missing person, but finds an alternate universe.
TQ: What inspired you to write Empire State?
Adam: I had several different ideas - I'm a fan of period science fiction, and wanted to write something set in the 1930s. I'm a fan of American superhero comics, and am fascinated by their weird and wonderful Golden Age of the late 1930s. Then around 2009 I discovered Raymond Chandler while on a long-haul flight from the UK to the US. Long-haul flights are, well, long, and things can get a little weird. I remember being blown away by Chandler's prose and after maybe a few too many free champagnes I remember thinking how great it would have been if Chandler had written science fiction too.
That was the seed, I think. I already had a character knocking around, this tough pulp PI called Rad Bradley - slightly down on his luck, slightly gone to seed and perhaps he's only just realising this. He was ready-made for the story; I think I even made some notes about the book on that flight! "Raymond Chandler meets the Rocketeer in Gotham City" was perhaps a little wordy for an elevator pitch, but that was what I was aiming for. A fun pulp adventure combining all that period detail - detective fiction, Golden Age comic books, with a dash of Art Deco and Prohibition. Oh, and a load of parallel universe weirdness!
TQ: What sort of research did you do for Empire State?
Adam: I've always had an interest in Prohibition and the 1920s and 1930s, but for Empire State I did a fair amount of digging into Prohibition particularly in New York. It's a fascinating and bizarre period of history, and really it's amazing Prohibition even went ahead. I also had to educate myself a little on New York geography, although setting the book as I did in an alternate universe I was able to quite deliberately fudge details (the differences between the real Manhattan and the Empire State are part of the story). New York is about my favourite place in the whole world - a feeling helped, I think, by writing a book about an alternate version of it!
One of the aspects of the book that plays a major part in the plot was actually an accidental discovery made while researching. I was looking for a historical figure to use in the alternate universe, and - without wanting to go into any spoilers here - I actually found one who really did go missing in the early 1930s. I could hardly believe my luck... and so the course of the novel was changed, based on this stroke of serendipity.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?
Adam: Rad and Captain Carson were both very easy to write - Rad because he was doing his best to work out what was going on, and I basically just had to follow him around the story. It's a wonderful thing when characters take on a life of their own. Carson was another who wrote his own story, but in a different way to Rad. Carson was a lot of fun, being an odd eccentric old man who perhaps likes the sound of his own voice. He pulled a few tricks on me too, including one in particular that was quite a surprise, even for me!
I'm not sure any character was particularly difficult to write. Both the Pastor of Lost Souls and the Chairman of the City Commissioners were tricky to balance within their own story threads - and they actually needed to follow my outline perhaps more than Rad or Carson anyway - which didn't make them hard to write, but certainly they required a different approach.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Empire State?
Adam: I love everything set in Carson's house - it's very weird and somehow disconnected from the rest of the city (at least that's what Rad thinks), and Carson is such a hoot. But my favourite scene in particular is Rad's unexpected trip that happens at the end of Chapter 28!
TQ: What's next?
Adam: My second novel, a spandex-clad superhero epic called SEVEN WONDERS, is out from Angry Robot in September 2012. Aside from that, I've got a number of projects on the go - more information on those when I have them!
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Adam: My pleasure!
Read Adam's Guest Blog - In Blackest Night: blending science fiction and noir - here.
About Empire State
Empire StateAngry Robot Books, December 27, 2011 (US/Canada); January 5, 2012 (UK/RoW)
Trade Paperback, 416 pages
It was the last great science hero fight, but the energy blast ripped a hole in reality, and birthed the Empire State - a young, twisted parallel prohibition-era New York.
When the rift starts to close, both worlds are threatened, and both must fight for the right to exist.
File Under: Science Fiction [ Pocket Universe | Heroes or Villains | Speak Easy | Loyalties Divided ]
About Adam Christopher
When not writing Adam can be found drinking tea and obsessing over DC Comics, Stephen King, and The Cure. His first novel, EMPIRE STATE, is out from Angry Robot books in January 2012. For more information, please visit angryrobotbooks.com.
Adam can be found online at adamchristopher.co.uk and on Twitter as @ghostfinder.
What: One commenter will win a copy of Empire State from The Qwillery.
How: Leave a comment answering the following question:
Who or what are your favorite superhero(es) or supervillain(s)?
Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.
You may receive additional entries by:
1) Being a Follower of The Qwillery.
2) Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.
3) Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.
There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.
Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition please leave a way to contact you.
Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Saturday, February 18, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.
*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*