Please welcome Charlie Human to the blog! Apocalypse Now Now is finally out in the states (from Titan Books), and Charlie was kind enough to answer a few questions about it. Also, we’ve got 3 copies to give away to 3 lucky US winners!
I’m very excited that Apocalypse Now Now will finally be out in the states! Will you tell us a bit about it and what inspired you to write it?
South African tabloids were the main inspiration for the book. They spin these epic mythologies on a weekly basis containing part traditional lore and part modern invention. Headlines involving monsters, and magic are common.
Apocalypse Now Now just treats those headlines as if they were real.
What inspired the character of Baxter Zevcenko? He’s not the traditional hero, that’s for sure, so why do you think readers might root for him?
Baxter’s bad side is really a hybrid of the worst parts of the teenage experience: self-involved, narcissistic and not nearly as cool as he thinks he is. His good side is a hybrid of the best bits: stupidly courageous and empathetic. I think readers root for him because they recognize and understand that conflict.
Ronin is part hardboiled noir detective, part shaman and part complete lunatic. He’s, in part, based on a guy a once met who, like Ronin, was a veteran of the apartheid Border War. The PTSD and the recognition that he’d been part of something so wrong mingled into something profoundly weird and tragic.
What kind of research did you do for the books?
I’ve always been interested in South African history and mythology so I had something of a base to work from. I read a lot about the Boer war, Khoisan and Zulu creation myths, esoteric martial arts, magical systems, pretty much anything that I found interesting I found a way to put into the books.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us more about yourself and your background?
I’ve always been a reader and writer but I only really realised it was something I could do when I was at university. I studied journalism and then went on to do my Masters in Creative Writing.
We’re seeing amazing work by South African writers gaining popularity here in the states. What do you think are some misconceptions that Americans have about South Africa and vice versa?
South Africa is a lot more cosmopolitan than people think it is. Sure, there’s all the bad shit but there’s also a really strong creative culture with people doing amazing stuff in games, food, comics, fashion and art.
I think, thanks to the media, a lot of South Africans have a view of the US that’s almost exclusively focused on New York and LA.
What authors and novels have influenced you the most in your writing, and in life?
Lauren Beukes was my supervisor for my MA and has had a profound influence on my writing. I love all of her books (and also hate her a little for being so good.)
Other influential writers for me are Margaret Atwood, China Miéville and Richard Morgan.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on a film project at the moment while tinkering on my third novel (which isn’t in the Baxter series)
Keep up with Charlie: Twitter