I loved The Burning Dark, and the second book in Adam Christopher’s creepy space series, The Machine Awakes, just came out in April. Adam kindly stopped by to answer a few of my questions about the book, and what comes next. Also, courtesy of the lovely folks at Tor, we’ve got a copy to give away to one lucky US winner, so be sure to enter to win at the widget below the post.
The Burning Dark was fantastic, and very creepy. Can you give us a teaser of what we can expect from The Machine Awakes?
In THE MACHINE AWAKES, we move away from that deep-space horror and head straight to the capital of the Fleet, New Orem. There are some political shenanigans at the Command Council, with one Admiral overthrowing another, only for them both to get assassinated in short order. The Fleet’s own internal investigation bureau recalls one of its best agents, Von Kodiak, from a secret mission in order to investigate, and he uncovers a conspiracy stretching from the Earth to the gas mines of Jupiter… where something large, alien, and rather hungry is lurking in the clouds.
When you started writing these books, did you already have an idea of how many you’d like to write in this series?
I had an idea for a trilogy in the more traditional sense, where events in THE BURNING DARK led directly to the second book, then the third, with the same core cast of characters. But after the first book was done, it seemed interesting to explore the larger universe… although I’m tempted to return to the adventures of Zia Hollywood, Charlie Carter and Carmina Serra one day. They only just escaped at the end of THE BURNING DARK…
What kind of research have you done for these books, and for The Machine Awakes in particular?
The beauty of this kind of science fiction is that there is less research required than something set closer to the present day, or than SF based more on actual science. But this does mean your own world building has to be on top form.
You’ve got many titles under your belt. How has your writing process changed from when you first started writing?
One of the biggest things is how your level of confidence changes—increases, hopefully—the more you do. By that I mean my confidence in my process. I have a pretty good idea of what one of my first drafts is like, and I also have a pretty good idea of what I can do to that first draft to fix it in the edit. I work on multiple projects with multiple deadlines, but now that I have a handle on what I am capable of, and in what timeframe, it becomes much easier to manage.
As for the actual writing process, I’ve more-or-less stuck with what I know—my outlines vary in length and detail. I’ve upped the number of words I write per day, but that’s also a factor of the number of looming deadlines I now have to work to!
It’s been a while since we caught up. Have you read any good books lately? Is there anything you’re looking forward to this year?
It’s been a great couple of years for books. Recent favourites have included VICIOUS and A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab and HARRISON SQUARED and AFTERPARTY by Daryl Gregory—everybody needs to be reading these two brilliant, brilliant authors. THE REVOLUTIONS by Felix Gilman has also stuck in my mind.
If you fancy a bit of crime fiction, Duane Swierczynski CANARY is brilliant, likewise BLOOD ALWAYS TELLS by Hilary Davidson.
What’s next for you?
This year is kinda crazy—THE MACHINE AWAKES is my second novel out, following the first of the ELEMENTARY tie-in novels, THE GHOST LINE. That book was the most fun to write ever. I’ve got some more tie-in books coming too, but it’s all very secret.
The comic I’m writing with Chuck Wendig—THE SHIELD—starts in June, from Dark Circle Comics, the superhero imprint of Archie Comics. Working on this has been a huge pleasure, not to mention an actual, bona fide dream come true. Just wait until you the amazing art from David Williams.
And out in November this year is MADE TO KILL, the first book in a new trilogy from Tor. It’s about a robot hitman working in 1960s Hollywood, written in the style of Raymond Chandler. The LA Trilogy, as it is called, spun out of a novelette I wrote for Tor.com last year called BRISK MONEY, which you can read for free at http://www.tor.com/stories/2014/07/brisk-money-adam-christopher. MADE TO KILL directly follows that story and is an absolute blast—I’m very, very excited about it. Tor have lots of stuff planned for it, so watch this space!
To support MADE TO KILL and THE SHIELD I’ll be in the US quite a bit this year, hitting San Diego Comic Con in July and World Fantasy in November. I hope to see some folk there!
About The Machine Awakes:
Adam Christopher’s The Machine Awakes is a far future space opera set in the universe of Burning Dark. In the decades since the human race first made contact with the Spiders–a machine race capable of tearing planets apart–the two groups have fought over interstellar territory. But the war has not been going well for humankind, and with the failure of the Fleet Admiral’s secret plan in the Shadow system, the commander is overthrown by a group of hardliners determined to get the war back on track.
When the deposed Fleet Admiral is assassinated, Special Agent Von Kodiak suspects the new guard is eliminating the old. But when the Admiral’s replacement is likewise murdered, all bets are off as Kodiak discovers the prime suspect is one of the Fleet’s own, a psi-marine and decorated hero–a hero killed in action, months ago, at the same time his twin sister vanished from the Fleet Academy, where she was training to join her brother on the front.
As Kodiak investigates, he uncovers a conspiracy that stretches from the slums of Salt City to the floating gas mines of Jupiter. There, deep in the roiling clouds of the planet, the Jovian Mining Corporation is hiding something, a secret that will tear the Fleet apart and that the Morning Star, a group of militarized pilgrims searching for their lost god, is determined to uncover.
But there is something else hiding in Jovian system. Something insidious and intelligent, machine-like and hungry.
The Spiders are near.