Interview and Giveaway with Simon Morden!

Today on the blog I have Dr. Simon Morden, author of the brand new series of thrillers featuring Samuil Petrovitch, and The Lost Art! He’s a genuine rocket scientist, and he writes kick-ass sci-fi, so pay attention, ok? I was intimidated as all get out to interview him, but he’s such a nice guy, he made it easy!
**Also up for grabs is the complete set of Petrovitch novels: Equations of Life, Theories of Flight, and the upcoming Degrees of Freedom! Please see giveaway details at the end of this post. 

Simon, you have degrees in planetary geophysics and geology and are, in fact, a rocket scientist, which I think is pretty darn cool! When you were young, did you want to be a scientist, and if not, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you ever imagine that you’d become a writer?
I was three when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon. They gave away little plastic spaceships in every packet of Cornflakes. The one and only time I skipped school (and how sad is this?) was to watch the maiden flight of the Shuttle. I wanted to be an astronaut. And I still do. Of course, I’d fail the medical in about a hundred different ways now, and I get sick just thinking about roller-coasters. But, but, but. If someone offered me the chance I wouldn’t have to think twice.

All this is inextricably intertwined with science fiction. My love of SF fed off my obsession with space, which in return, watered the thirst for knowledge about real other planets and stars. So I eventually pitched up at university, did astronomy along with my geology, took geophysics units along with the fossils, and went on to do a PhD dealing with the formation of meteorite parent bodies in the early solar system. It’ll become relevant in about a hundred years time…

The writing thing? Never even occurred to me, until I suddenly started noodling a high fantasy epic at the same time as I was writing up my thesis. It … wasn’t completely awful. And I finished it. Naturally, I started something else, and that something else turned out to be Heart.

Your first novel, Heart, came out in 2002, followed by Another War, in 2005. Your breakout YA novel, The Lost Art came out in 2008 and was very well received. How long did it take you to write The Lost Art?

So, time for a story. I’d just written a near-future Sfnal thriller, and bagged an agent on the strength of it. While he was hawking it around the publishers, I had, taking my own advice for once, started something else straight away. It was very different: I was going to write an SF book using fantasy tropes. So I’d lined up my Paladin, and my Wizard, and my Princess, and I was five chapters in. My agent showed those five chapters along with the completed novel he was touting – and it was those five chapters that sold.

Who’d have thought it? Not me, for one. And of course, having sold a whole novel on the basis of a few thousand words, I now had to finish it. I had the money in the bank and the deadline on the calendar. What I didn’t have was an outline of what happened next. It’s the way I write – no plan, no synopsis, no vague idea even. I just sit and keep going until I’m done. I think it took me about another eight months to get it all sorted, about 125,000 words in all. I was very pleased with the result, and fortunately so were the publishers.

You have a brand new post-apocalyptic sci-fi series out, starting with the just-released Equations of Life. Samuil Petrovitch is somewhat of an anti-hero, but is also very likable. What was your influence for Samuil?
He appeared in a short story I wrote – Cargo – that was part of an early short-story collection of mine, called Thy Kingdom Come. It turned out that those twenty stories set the background for Armageddon and the London Metrozone. So when I first thought of setting a novel in the Metrozone, I just knew that that was where Petrovitch had run to after fleeing St Petersburg. The Thy Kingdom Come stories are available as a free download from my website, and you can choose to read them first, or during, or even after the three books – it depends if you want to know from the go-get why the Metrozone is such a mess!

Cargo sets the whole tone for Petrovitch – he’s amoral, sarcastic, smart, and yet… he can’t help doing good, despite himself. Having worked in a university research department also helped – I’m not saying it’s a direct lift from the stuff I used to get up to, but I hope it’s recognisable to anyone who knows that kind of environment.

And Petrovitch himself is undecided about the nature vs nurture debate. He’s the sort of guy you’d want on your side, but you probably wouldn’t want him to marry your daughter.

Why do you think post-apocalyptic, dystopian stories are so popular?
The apocalypse itself is simply a matter of survival, and survival is simply a matter of luck. Lucky characters narrowly avoiding death, repeatedly, through no agency or action of their own, makes for really sucky fiction.

Afterwards, though… everything you know has gone. As an author, you’re free to redraw virtually the entire map: geographical, social, economic, scientific, religious, political, you name it. You can tweek one thing – like PD James’ Children of Men – and just extrapolate a whole new society from the ashes of the old. Or you can have an old-fashioned global catastrophe where only one thing remains.They’re popular with readers for the same reasons: on top of which, they’re the ultimate in wish-fulfillment. Of all the people to succumb to the ravages of whichever disaster it might be, you’re not going to be one of them. You – and your plucky band of survivors – are going to have to kick start civilisation. And you’ll make a better job of it than last time round, too.

Two more books in the Metrozone series are coming out in April and May. Are there plans for more, or will it just stand as a trilogy?
I can be persuaded to do more. I would want them to be different kinds of stories, though. There’s a whole post-Armageddon world that needs exploring, and I’d like to find out what that rascal Petrovitch gets up to when he’s older, and possible wiser. A more mellow Petrovitch? Perish the thought!

Other than Equations of Life, of course, what books would you recommend to someone just starting to read sci-fi/thrillers?
Ooh, a reading list. I got around to compiling one a few years ago, when I gave a talk called “How to read Science Fiction” at a festival. These are what made the cut:
HG Wells – The War of the Worlds (1898)
George Orwell – 1984 (1949)
Frederick Pohl and Cyril Kornbluth – The Space Merchants (1953)
Ray Bradbury – Fahrenheit 451 (1953)
Frank Herbert – Dune (1965)
Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle – The Mote in God’s Eye (1975)
Joe Haldeman – The Forever War (1975)
William Gibson – Neuromancer (1984)
Orson Scott Card – Ender’s Game (1985)
Greg Bear – The Forge of God (1987)
Mary Doria Russell – The Sparrow (1996)
Michael Marshal Smith – Spares (1996)
I picked stories that made the most impact on me, so they’re necessarily all personal choices – but they are all recognised as classics of the genre. I’d add a couple of more recent ones – Ken Macleod’s Learning the World is just fantastic, and Boneshaker by Cherie Priest is full of steampunky goodness.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do to relax?
To be honest, there’s an awful lot of running around after the kids, who are almost but not quite old enough to be allowed to use public transport on their own. I tend to take my laptop with me and do work (until the battery runs out).However – there are still books, and mine don’t need batteries, not yet anyway. So I always have a book on the go currently, it’s Rod Rees’ Demi-Monde (from Quercus: the cover and binding are gorgeous, and the story’s not too bad either!). If I’m being lazy, it’s onto the computer for a strategy game like Civilisation or something from the Total War series. If I’m feeling a bit more energetic, I go swimming at the local pool. It stops me from turning into a blob: being a writer can be seriously damaging to your health…

Other than the next two Metrozone novels, is there anything you’d like to share with us about upcoming projects or events?
Well now. I could tell you, but then… I have a space opera in the top drawer, ready to go. Hopefully, it’ll be in the next bundle of stuff I sell to Orbit. It’s a lot longer than the Metrozone books, and rather than being a frenetic thrill-ride, it’s a slow-burn building up to a fascinating and hopefully unexpected conclusion. Sort of Dune meets The Forever War.I also have a yen for an epic fantasy. Except my fantasy will contain absolutely no magic whatsoever. I have a title, and starting point. And that is all. But then again, what more do you need?

You may visit the author at his website

**GIVEAWAY DETAILS**
Giveaway has ended! Thanks to everyone that entered!

56 Comments:

  1. With all those great book suggestions Simon made, I'm sure his books must be great reads too 😀 ! Thanks for the chance to win one of his books!!

    GFC follower

    danaan at gmx dot at

  2. This sounds like an interesting series. Great interview.

    GFC Follower

    dreamingofwdw at shaw dot ca

  3. Great interview… 🙂

    GFC Follower

    x.katie.x@seznam.cz

  4. Great interview! I have read a handful of the sci-fi he suggests. Dune and Ender are great! .. The covers of Equations of Life, Theories of Flight, and Degrees of Freedom are almost hard to look at!! haha. Thanks for sharing and I am gfc follower. 😉

    seescootread[at]gmail[dot]com

  5. Well, I feel like a slacker. I've only gotten to a handful of those reading suggestions. But the ones I have read are absolutely amazing.

    GFC follower

    Vivien
    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  6. I think I need those first 3 books now, just to hold the covers in front of people and mesmerize them into doing things for me 😛

    Looks interesting. Sign me up!

    erikadlugoATyahooDOTcom

    I am also a My Bookish Ways follower.

  7. Sounds good! Thanks for the giveaway. I follow with GFC(Erinberry) and on twitter(@Erinberry12)

    erinberry12 at charter dot net

  8. I'm slightly impressed with myself that I've read at least a couple of those sci-fi books! 🙂

    I like the sound of these books – especially as I did astrophysics at uni! 🙂

    I'm a GFC as well.

    notanotherbookblog(at)hotmail(dot)co(dot)uk

  9. Great interview! This series sounds very interesting.
    GFC follower as Diana

    artgiote at gmail dot com

  10. At last, an interviewer who knows that Equations of Life isn't Simon's first novel!

    See you on facebook, Simon — and at Greenbelt, I hope.

    bookish dot digitig at spamgourmet dot com

  11. Thanks for the interview. I will add this to my wishlist, looks promising.

    GFC follower

    thegirlonfire

    thegirlonfire27 at gmail dot com

  12. Sounds great!!!

    GFC follower

    vidishamun@gmail.com

  13. Sounds very interesting. Count me in 🙂

    GFC follower
    quixoticdreamer

    quixotidreamer(at)hotmail(dot)com

  14. The books look fascinating. I would love to read them.

    GFC follower

    Mary Preston
    marypres@gmail.com

  15. I would like to be entered in this giveaway please!! =)

    GFC Follower: SpadesHighReads
    Twitter: @SpadesHigh
    email subscriber: Bayayrea_munkie @ hotmail [dot] com

    SpadesHigh @ http://SpadesHighReads.blogspot.com
    TValeros18 @ gmail [dot] com

    Thank you!!

  16. Lieder Madchen

    This sounds like an interesting book, I would love to give it a try!

    GFC follower

    liedermadchen(at)hotmail(dot)com

  17. I read a bunch of those science fiction books, love them! GFC Krystal Larson edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom…thank you for the awesome giveaway 🙂

  18. These covers are mesmerizing. 😉 I'm really curious about these books. 😀

    catarina_romeira at hotmail dot com

    I'm a GFC follower, as p7.

  19. Super fun! Thanks for hosting – please enter me, I am an old gfc follower.
    bevsharp@desch.org

  20. I'd love to enter!

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  21. I'm a GFC follower.

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  22. Thanks for the interview and giveaway; this series looks great!

    I'm an old GFC follower.

    susanna dot pyatt at student dot rcsnc dot org

  23. Hi Kristin

    Thanks for the interview, always good to see interesting answers from the author.

    Thanks for the giveaway, I'm connected via GFC.

    M

  24. I am a follower and email subscriber. Please enter me in contest. This series sounds really good. Tore923@aol.com

  25. now that's what i call a classic science fiction must-read book list. 😀

    Thanks for the interview. Interesting read. And thanks for making the competition international. Yay.

    [hrududu] AT [hotmail] DE

    Following via GFC.

  26. IdentitySeeker

    Hi:) Thanks for the great giveaway:) I'm a GFC Follower: Sarah Bibi Setar or Identity Seeker.
    I'm also an e-mail subscriber: sarah.setar@gmail.com

    Thanks for the great blog posts and interviews:)

    sarah.setar@gmail.com

  27. This looks like a great series to read! I can't wait 🙂

    I am a GFC, email, etc., follower of your blog.

    jwitt33@live.com

  28. good interview. ender's game is on my fave list too!

    the covers for this series make the eyes wonky, love 'em.

    vvb32 at yahoo.com
    -also on your gfc and email subscription

  29. Its been a while since I read a really good Sci-Fi novel so I am very interested in the books on offer. Two of the authors in yoyr list are unknown to me although I though I was fairly clued up in the genre. These (Mary Doria Russell – The Sparrow (1996)
    Michael Marshal Smith – Spares (1996)), I will have to try and find.

    Thanks for the giveaway and for opening it to worldwide entries.

    Much appreciated.

    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

    I Follow via GFC (buddyt)

  30. I have been noticing these books and wondering if I would like them. Now that I have seen an interview, I will have to try them out. They sound great.

    I follow GFC and email
    linda at gordonvalley dot com

  31. This looks great!
    GFC follower
    Twitter follower
    Fbfollower
    starlightgirl678 at aol dot com

  32. Ashley Christine

    Awesome looking books!

    GFC Follower
    Twitter Follower (@xXHarlequinn)

    leychristinecollins(at)gmail(dot)com

  33. hedgerhousehold

    thanks for the giveaway!
    Follow on GFC
    jenhedger at hotmail dot com

  34. Thanks for the interview and giveaway! I'm a GFC follower (Miss Lauren).

    lwilkerson21@gmail.com
    http://the-book-mistress.blogspot.com

  35. BooksforCompany

    l have seen these books around and think they sound so good!

    I am follower =)
    thank you
    booksforcompany @ gmail.com

  36. I'd love to read these! Thanks!

    GFC follower (Dovile)

    spamscape [at] gmail [dot] com

  37. littlepinkstars44

    Great giveaway!
    I follow you with GFC (littlepinkstars44)

    email@ bellebooksx@gmail.com

  38. Thanks for the giveaway!
    I follow via GFC:Kali Burgos

    kaylie-kay@live.com

  39. Thanks for the interview and giveaway!
    GFC: Jeanne

    Rathouska.jana@gmail.com

  40. Thanks for the interview and giveaway !!!
    I'm a GFC follower.

    dl(dot)love(dot)freedom(at)gmail(dot)com

  41. Hi thanks for the giveaway. I s great.
    GFC follower – Ronyka7
    twetter follower – @Ronyka7
    email suscribe – flaka. 077 (at) gmail(dot) com

    flaka.077 at gmail dot com

  42. This is an amazing giveaway, and these books look great! I'm a GFC follower – asha.hartland and my email is my GFC username at hotmail.co.uk

    Thank you!

  43. Thanks for the really amazing giveaway! The covers are intriguing and the stories themselves are interesting!

    gfc follower name: aloveforbooks
    email add: aloveforbooks at gmail dot com

  44. destinulgardianului

    GFC Follower and Facebook:Ioana Lacatusu
    ioana_raluk95@yahoo.com

  45. WOW COOL! and SUPER COOL GIVEAWAY!

    +1 GFC Follower thenorms

    thenorms_12@yahoo.com

  46. Great interview! The books sound really interesting.

    GFC Follower: Thais

    thais_rpc(at)hotmail(Dot)com

  47. I didn't hear about these books yet… but they are interesting 🙂

    I am GFc follower: Syki

    sykorova.p@gmail.com

  48. Great interview! The covers of Equations of Life, Theories of Flight, and Degrees of Freedom are amazing!

    I'm a GFC follower: balmezandrada

    balmezandrada@yahoo.com

  49. Look interesting!

    heykiddego (at) gmail (dot) com

  50. Great interview! Thanks for the giveaway.

    I'm a GFC follower; Maria Pauline

    pauline120196@yahoo.com

  51. katklaw777 at yahoo dot com
    GFC follower
    email subscriber
    twitter follower w/ katklaw777
    Thanks for the great giveaway!

  52. I'd love to read these! Thank you for the giveaway!

    I subscribe by email.

    mittens0831 at aol dot com

  53. +JMJ+

    Thanks for the giveaway! These books sound fantastic. SF written by a real Rocket Scientist? WIN! =D

    I follow you on GFC. =)

    altaemoeniaRomae
    [at]
    Gmail
    [dot]
    com

  54. Oooh Please enter me 🙂
    Name: Sarinah
    Email: sarinah_95@hotmail.com
    I follow you through GFC (Sarinah)
    Twitter(WannabeMagical)
    Facebook(Sarinah S)

    Thank you!!

  55. Great interview! I love the illusions on those covers!

    meredithfl at gmail dot com

    GFC follower
    Twitter follower @tessaa99
    Email subscriber
    FB fan

  56. writingaboutreading.com

    I'm so sad that I missed the deadline on this giveaway. :o(

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