Author Interview | International Bestseller @WestonAndrew translates strange dreams into reality...a
I first met Andrew Weston when his publisher approached me in 2016 about promotional work for his then sequel to his bestseller, The IX. As someone who loves both science fiction and history, I immediately connected with his writing style and his books that followed. He's one of my favorite authors and when I asked if he'd like to sit down for an interview, he agreed. So sit, relax, grab your favorite go-to beverage and enjoy. Take it away, Andrew:
What is your writing process?
While Daemon Grim enjoys his own adventures, those adventures are set in the “Heroes in Hell Universe”, so I have to approach things a little differently than I normally do.
The first thing I need to remember is that Heroes in Hell is guided by its own designated rules. Certain characters, venues, place names and institutions belong to other writers, so if I wish to use them within my stories, I need permission from other contributors. An example of this can be seen in Hell Gate – and indeed, all my novels and short stories in this series.
One particular character, Daemon Grim, enjoys a great deal of banter with is the Undertaker. The two just don’t get on and you grasp this by the way they think and act around each other. I use the Undertaker extensively, but he’s not my creation (as say, the Al Jinn are and the world of Jahannum). The same goes for The Babylonian plague god, Erra and his seven enforcers, the Sibitti. As sons of heaven and earth, they are personified weapons who wreak vengeance and destruction on behalf of their master. They are absolutely superb villains, but they belong to Janet Morris (the architect behind the Heroes in Hell universe). So, when I use them, I have to ensure they speak and act in a manner that “remains true” to the way Janet devised, and I can’t stray from that.
As you can imagine, it’s quite a challenge to mould your own writing style around that of other people, but I enjoy it as I feel it improves my own standards in a way I wouldn’t otherwise achieve.
Do you have any odd writing habits?
I’ve taken to keeping a notebook with me. That way, when something I see, hear or experience triggers a phrase, an idea or even an entire scene, I can jot down the gist of it at the time, while its fresh, to ensure I don’t lose the essence of what motivated me to record it in the first place. Sometimes, it could be related to a part of the book I’ve already written or am completing at the time. At others, it’ll remain a little isolated island of inspiration until I come to a part of the plotline that allows me to slot it in.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
As I mentioned, because Hell Gate forms part of the Heroes in Hell universe, I’m bound by its guiding tenets regarding certain aspects of my work. In relation to the anti-heroes and heroines, they have to be based on real, historical figures – or – on characters that are so well established in society, they have built up a substantial ancestry over the years. Daemon Grim – the Reaper – being a prime example of that. He’s a mythical figure, but one who has been represented in myriad ways by many different cultures over the centuries.
I’ve researched all of my characters extensively. Sticking to just the Hell Hounds, (the Reaper’s team of infernal bounty hunters), you’ll find people as diverse as Nimrod, ancient king of Shinar; Yamato Takeru, a legendary first century ninja warrior; Champ Ferguson, an expert tracker and officer in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War; Marie-Anne Charlotte de Corday d’Armont, the angel of assassination during the French Revolution; Heinrich von Nettesheim, occultist, theologian, astrologer, magician, alchemist, physician, legal expert, soldier and ambassador. A true polymath if ever there was one.
Look them up for yourselves. You’ll be fascinated by what you find.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I do glance through my reviews from time to time. Perhaps more so when the book is newly published. It’s nice to see how readers are taking to it. While I used to respond and say thank you, that gets a little difficult as your history builds into a larger portfolio of work. So I don’t do that anymore.
My advice regarding the bad reviews – and deliberate trolls, come to that? By all means, read them. Sometimes, a negative review is from a heartfelt reader expressing how they feel. I have no objection to those at all. You’ll soon learn to spot them and can learn from those individuals; grow from them; make adjustments that can improve the standard of your work. As to the other stuff (and trolls)? Ignore them. You can’t please everyone all the time. Even when you build up a fanbase, there’ll be plenty of others who prefer another writer who are only too willing to tear you down. Don’t let them. Just continue what you’re doing. Do your best to improve. And most of all, keep enjoying yourself.
I love immersing myself in my worlds, and I won’t let anyone take that away from me.
Do you have a favorite spot to write? What is it?
I wish I did. Like many people I have to make do with my main computer at home, or my laptop when I’m on downtime during assignments. If I ever became super-successful, I’d have an office, either adjoining or separate from my main home that I could lock myself away in and not be disturbed.
Inside, I’d opt for a three-screen arrangement. The center one being my writing platform, while those left and right are for research and text checks against my other works. Heaven!
What are you working on now? What is your next project?
My current project is an IX Origins novel. (As will be the one after that). Followers of my work will be aware my debut story for Perseid Press, The IX, did rather well, and managed to fill the #1 slot internationally for six of its first twelve months in print. The series built up quite a following, and I had a number of fans contact me through social media over a two to three year period asking if I’d consider writing something that told the history of the fall of Arden and the emergence of their greatest enemy, the Horde.
I thought about it, and because I’m something of a world builder, found that I had more than enough unused material to devise a solid genesis on which to construct two new stories.
I’ve rather enjoyed it and look forward to how they’ll be received.
Do you write naked?
Only when the mercury creeps over 40 Celsius in the summer and the air-conditioning isn’t quite enough to take the sting out of feeling uncomfortable. (The wife loves it. She get’s popcorn, coke and a comfy cushion to watch. . .) See? Marriage multitasking at its best.
What is your biggest failure?
Stopping my wife from inviting friends to come round and watch along with her when I’m engaging in the above activity. Very annoying. . .
Do you drink? Smoke? What’s your vice?
I don’t drink or smoke. But I do keep bringing stray & abandoned cats home.
What is your biggest fear?
Being sooo naughty, that Santa doesn’t come.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Time travel. The things I could do. . .
What secret talents do you have?
I am immune to opiates. (Evidently, it’s genetic, and NO, I won’t say how I found out).
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?
I love diving, so that would have to be the Great Barrier Reef. Hopefully I’ll get to do that before it’s gone entirely.
If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
A predator (From the films) – then I could track down all the idiots who seem hell-bent on hunting endangered species and add their spinal columns to MY collection.
What’s on your bucket list (things to do before you die)?
Swimming with whales.
Thank you so much, Andrew, for the insightful interview. Readers, scroll down to read more about Andrew's new release.
Title: Hell Gate
Author: Andrew P. Weston
Publisher: Perseid Press
The Angel Grislington is dead, effaced from existence during an epic battle with Daemon Grim that destroyed a Zion forged blade and one of Satan’s premier palaces in the process.
Chopin and Tesla have gone to ground. So much so, that they might as well be six feet under helping to push up hell-daisies.
Even Erra and the Sibitti, his living weapons of vengeance and destruction, seem reticent to show their faces.
Rioting sweeps the length and breadth of the underworld. Yet the halls of the Mortuary lie vacant, for someone is stealing soul-essence, the very means by which Satan condemns sinners to everlasting torment.
But who would dare such a thing? And how does the hush that descends upon the dirty streets of latterday hell tie into ancient prophecy relating to the Reaper’s destiny?
It’s often calmest before the storm.
Just imagine how bad things will get with the apocalypse approaching.
The reality of Skull Isle was vastly different to the picture I’d painted in my mind.
On an earlier trip here, I’d headed a team of pirates on a mission that led to the recovery of two of my Hell Hounds – Yamato Takeru and Champ Ferguson – from a Sibitti holding cell deep in the bowels of the clustered peaks before me. On that occasion, a verdant ring of menace had encompassed a snowcapped cordillera, providing a little taste of what lay in wait at the center of the island: the mother of all obstacle courses. An apt analogy, for their prison had been protected by rivers of molten metal, booby-trapped bridges, and an ingenious mixture of lethal labyrinths, all riddled with a stunning variety of hidden snares.
But of course, that was before the encircling heights had been pulverized by the monster tsunami that subsequently dragged everything beneath the waves.
I cast my senses down through the curtain of hydrothermal gasses and fluids rippling up from the depths and watched, enraptured, as a veil of silver-gray mystery turned the murky waters of the Bitter Sea into an effervescent wash of mesmerizing contradictions.
The tang of fading thaumaturgy still lingered. Though faint, it served as a timely reminder of the potency that had once dominated this whole region. Even better, that echo was a surefire sign my suspicions about this place might be right.
And if they are, I’ll have a nice selection of bargaining chips to take with me back to the Kigali homeworld.
Though most of the mountains had toppled, the exterior to the catacombs was remarkably intact. The visage of one of Erra’s enforcers – the Sixth, to be precise – with jaws held wide, marked the main entrance to the waiting maze, adding a menacing overtone to a locale that didn’t need any extra help exuding a menacing vibe. A gentle surge of energy propelled me toward that access point. Igniting the gem adorning the tip of my scythe, I surveyed the interior to find things much transposed from my previous visit. While the atrium had survived most of the destruction and still displayed an impressive array of stalagmites and stalactites, that was where any similarity ended.
The once glittering splendor of diamond encrusted limestone had been replaced by a forest of petrified megaliths and jagged stumps. Stained black by an all-pervading discharge oozing from a fretwork of fissures lining the floors and walls, those ranked columns filed off into the distance, appearing for all the world like obsidian clad sentinels, set in place to frogmarch miscreants to certain doom.
Far from muting the former glory of the grotto, the mineral-laden soup had transformed it into a nightmarish tribute to the inexplicable and macabre.
Here, ghostly eyeless fish gulped for breath, their albino feelers constantly testing the inky darkness about them for microbes and other tasty tidbits. There, all manner of gothically armored crustaceans vied for space against territorial starfish of outrageous size and color. Obviously wary, they soon put their differences aside to scuttle for shared cover the moment my staff cast its stark illumination over them.
The only creatures that seemed unperturbed by my presence were the new colonies of hellworms infesting the rocks around the site of each freshly opened vent. And it soon became apparent why.
Wreathed by a halo of whiskerlike tendrils that waved an invitation to all and sundry, the hellworms activities provided a calm and languid counterpoint to the frantic business of survival playing out all around them…until an unwary shrimp or crab happened along, that is. For no sooner had those welcoming tentacles detected the presence of nearby prey, than vicious looking barbs would shoot out to snare the unwary, before reeling them in toward a central maw lined in razor-sharp teeth.
Every so often, the soft diffusion provided by the percolating backdrop was punctuated by the shrill cries of another hapless critter that had strayed too close. And then a resounding crunch would cut those protestations short.
No matter where you venture in our many layered underverse, it’s a never-ending cycle of eat, or be eaten. Exactly the way it should be.
Shaking myself free of this pleasurable, if momentary interlude, I decided it best to crack on with the business at hand. The game was afoot, and I was here to catch it, not sightsee.
Andrew P. Weston is Royal Marine and Police veteran from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats.
An astronomy and criminal law graduate, he is the creator of the internationally acclaimed IX Series, along with Hell Bound, Hell Hounds and Hell Gate, (Novels forming part of Janet Morris’ critically celebrated Heroes in Hell shared universe). Andrew also has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Science Fiction Association, British Fantasy Society, and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.
When not writing, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with one of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories.
Social Media Links: Website: http://www.andrewpweston.com/