David Hofmeyr’s Stone Rider came out last month, and he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the book, and we’ve got one copy of Stone Rider to give away to one lucky US winner!
Will you tell us about Stone Rider and what inspired you to write it?
Stone Rider follows 15-year-old Adam Stone who has lost everything and joins a brutal race on semi-sentient ‘bykes’ to win the chance to escape a dying future Earth. Think the Hunger Games meets Mad Max meets Cormac McCarthy. An adrenalin-fuelled race across an epic desert.
The idea was born in a dream. Crossing an alien desert came a group of riders, like horsemen of the apocalypse. Only here, instead of horses, they were riding other-worldly bykes. I knew I wanted fear and adrenalin, dust and blood and vengeance. A primal story. I suppose it sprang from the Westerns I loved as a kid. The Dollars Trilogy. Pale Rider. Once Upon a Time in the West. But also something futuristic. Alien. Mad Max. Blade Runner. Star Wars.
What do you think makes Adam a compelling character?
Adam undergoes a huge change in the book. In the beginning he’s hesitant – both physically and mentally – and unable to express himself, or stand up to bullies. By the end of the story Adam finds an inner strength that allows him to endure. Adam is a loner and a misfit and I think all readers can relate to being an outsider in some sense. Adam has grown up in the wind-swept, dust-bowl town of Blackwater. He’s an orphan, raised by his brother who has trained him to be an excellent rider. Adam only feels free on his byke. He might be afraid at the start, but he’s tough too, made of stone. No matter what life throws at him, Adam stands up and does the right thing. He cares. He’s a kid with humanity in world where very little is left.
Will you tell us more about the “world” of Stone Rider?
This is a post-apocalyptic future earth. Some unknown cataclysm has blasted the world and left people divided. The uber-wealthy and the privileged leave the planet for an ark in space called Sky-Base and the those left-behind are forced to eke out a brutal existence in a world that seesaws from extreme heat in the summer to freezing winters. Book one, Stone Rider, is set in the summer. Book two, Blood Rider, is set in the winter. Makes for an interesting shift.
What kind of research did you do for the book?
Most of the ‘research’ I did was reading and watching films. Although I did invest a little research into the mechanics of slingshots and motorbikes. But this is a fictional future so anything goes. The story inevitably requires a certain amount of suspension of disbelief.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us more about yourself and your background?
I wrote an essay about a man driving his car when I was an eleven-year-old kid. My English teacher loved it. And I loved the process of writing. I was hooked from that day. But life takes you down different tracks. I’ve been a barman, a waiter, a newsreader on radio, a copywriter, an information architect (I have no idea what that is either) and a strategic planner. I have always written, but it wasn’t until I enrolled in the Bath Spa Creative Writing for Children MA that I started to take writing seriously. Stone Rider was born in the course.
Speaking of “worlds”, what are a few of your favorite literary worlds?
I thought The Golden Compass was impressive and well executed. Phillip Pullman created such an articulate world. The universe of Lord of the Rings is also an incredible feat of imagination. I loved Dune and the myriad science fiction worlds of Asimov and Phillip K. Dick.
What did you enjoy most about writing Stone Rider? Was it a planned series from the start?
I love the creative process. Starting with a blank page … ending up somehow with a fully realized story world. It’s an incredible process. It’s magic. I’m not particularly disciplined. I write when the mood fires and I approach the page in different ways each time. Stone Rider was a great book to write, because it started with a dream and it just evolved from there. I wrote the book organically, following the characters through their world and so I experienced it as they were experiencing it, which was pretty exciting. I didn’t plan for a sequel at the start, but the idea for a second book emerged in the process. The character stories were not yet fully told.
What authors or novels have influenced you the most?
Literary inspirations are the bedrock of my writing. And none are more powerful than Cormac McCarthy. All the Pretty Horses, first book in the Border Trilogy, is Old Testament biblical and it cuts to the bone. The Road is sensational. Stephen King was a favourite in my early teens. In particular, The Bachman Books and the short story, “The Long Walk.” In some ways I pay homage to his story in Stone Rider. Patrick Ness is a genius. I loved The Knife of Never Letting Go. Michael Grant knows how to deliver a YA blockbuster and he’s the master of writing a series. Matt Haig writes with such humanity and wit and warmth. Nobody gets teenage angst better than John Green. My friend, Clare Furniss, knows how to move you from tears to laughter in a heartbeat. Tim Winton’s book, Breath, is exquisite. Everything he writes is beautiful.
If you could experience one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
All The Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy. For the prose alone.
What’s next for you?
I am working on the sequel to Stone Rider, Blood Rider. It takes on a more feminist shift. I wanted to see the world from a different perspective. It’s set in winter so I up the ante on survival. Expect more adrenalin and blood-soaked craziness in the brutal Badland. Hoo haa!
About Stone Rider:
In the vein of the cult classic Mad Max series, crossed with Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, this inventive debut novel blends adrenaline-fueled action with an improbable yet tender romance to offer a rich and vivid portrayal of misfits and loners forced together in their struggle for a better life.
Adam Stone wants freedom and peace. He wants a chance to escape Blackwater, the dust-bowl desert town he grew up in. Most of all, he wants the beautiful Sadie Blood. Alongside Sadie and the dangerous outsider Kane, Adam will ride the Blackwater Trail in a brutal race that will test them all, body and soul. Only the strongest will survive.
The prize? A one-way ticket to Sky-Base and unimaginable luxury.
And for a chance at this new life, Adam will risk everything.