The Next Big Thing?

A little while ago I joined an internet forum for authors (because reasons), and I have found in them a great source of comfort and support. Writing can be a fairly solitary occupation, regardless of whether it’s academic or commercial, and it’s good to have people on hand to spur you on. I have such people in real life, of course, who can offer words of encouragement (or, should you require it, dire threats), but it’s always worth expanding your circle of supporters.

Bearing that in mind, I was invited to participate in a blog-hop thing, whereby we discuss our WIPs. This is internet-forum speak for ‘Work In Progress’. I know, it’s not a lingo I’m very good at either. I keep having to ask what people are talking about. Anyway, there are ten questions to answer, and since Anna Zabo was kind enough to link to this blog I suppose I had better uphold my end of the bargain…

What is the working title of your book?

It is called ‘The Wings of the Dawn’. (That title is lifted directly from Psalm 139)

Where did the idea for the book come from?

This is a slightly more complicated question. ‘The Wings of the Dawn’ is the third of my trilogy. The idea for the story as a whole came many years ago, when I was sitting and bored almost out of my skull writing my GCSE English Language paper. I was required to explain what significance, if any, the shape of the bin-bags held in a comprehension, when I realised I could be having almost infinitely more fun doing some writing of my own. Science Fiction was my thing, and Military SF my sub-genre of choice, and that is what I wanted to write. Then I had this weird mental image, of a man running down a burning steel corridor having set it on fire himself – and that single idea eventually became the starting point for a trilogy that will be more than 800,000 words long when it’s done.

The first germination of the ideas that inform this book, however, started even before that, with a piece of information about some insanely cool physics that I came across in a Reader’s Digest when I was about 9 years old. And having sat on it for 20 years, I finally got to use it!

What genre does your book fall into?

This is thorough-going Military SF. Which is, I have learned, a difficult genre in which to work, because you have to be able to deliver all the elements one expects of regular SF while at the same time writing the military side of things with at least equal fidelity. This is, famously, something George Lucas never managed, which why ‘Star Wars’ is fun SF but terrible military SF. (Interestingly, some of the authors writing the post-film novels have done it much, much better – I would point to the ‘Rogue Squadron’ books by Michael A. Stackpole as an example).

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

This is a game I play all the time, but I think I have finally settled on my selection. Now, I have cast dozens of my characters, but for the sake of brevity let’s just stick to the main three:

Paul Ray - Thomas Jane Thor Trevelyan - Liam Neeson Commander Susan Rondahl, CO FSS Foxfire

From left to right – Paul Ray (Thomas Jane); Thor Trevelyan (Liam Neeson); Susan Rondahl (Famke Janssen)

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

After a year of war the Confederacy has been beaten to its knees, and must risk everything on one last desperate throw of the dice – knowing that if it fails, all will be lost forever…

(If you want more information, couched in rather less gnomic terms than that, can I point you to this?)

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I have no plans to self-publish.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It’s not finished yet, but the hard part is done. There is one chapter, ‘Archers’, that is the clockwork mechanism at the heart of the novel, and if I didn’t get it right then the entire trilogy would fall down. Building up to that slowed me down terribly. However, that chapter is now well behind me and seems to have worked, so now the rest is just claiming one word after another…

But to give you some figures… the first draft of Ghost Among Thieves took 10 months. The first draft of The Passage of Daemons took 3 years (in my defense, I undertook an undergraduate and a postgraduate degree in that time – it wasn’t like I was lounging about doing nothing. Oh, and Daemons is just over a quarter of a million words long, so it wasn’t a small undertaking!)

To what other books in your genre would you compare this story?

As it happens, the book whose shadow looms largest over this trilogy isn’t actually in this genre. Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy is probably the biggest influence, a technothriller with impressive claims on veracity and scope. It even earns itself a sidelong acknowledgement in my text – one of the Terrestrial fleet carriers is called FSS Red Storm. But inside my genre the biggest influence is probably Peter F. Hamilton (someone else unafraid to write on a large scale). Stephen King’s The Stand had a major influence too – particularly on the second book (you know, the one about biological warfare) but throughout the trilogy as well.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The answer to that really is as simple as ‘I wanted to finish my story’. However, the next book is likely to begin a prequel trilogy, and it came about because I accidentally wrote a character that I really liked and couldn’t wait to write about some more. His name is Zadok (yes, like the priest), and he is one of my favourite antagonists.

What else about your book might pique your reader’s interest?

This is it! This is the big finale! This is where the questions are answered, the war is ended, the heroes and villains face each other for the last time! All the things I have been building towards get their moment in the sun, and as for the Crowning Moments of Awesome…there are many, and they are indeed awesome.

I am now required to tag other authors in order to continue the hop, so why not head on over to Jo, who has just finished her first draft of ‘All’s Fair’? Jo is one of my Beta readers (the people at whom I fire chapters as I complete them, and so read my books on the installment plan. Jo is excellent at this, picking up on things I miss, and making extremely helpful suggestions. Basically, Jo is ace) and a pretty mean author in her own right (write?), and you should totally hang out with her.

Go on now. Shoo.

Oh, all right: your moment of Zen for the day:


Jubilee ‘Australia’ poses at the head of a train of immaculate Stanier coaches.



About Gavin

I am a 32-year-old PhD student in Aberdeen, Scotland. I work in QC at an e-learning company. I'm originally Northern Irish, though I've lived here in Aberdeen for several years. I am, essentially, somebody who is very normal, yet to whom very strange things keep happening...
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One Response to The Next Big Thing?

  1. eruntane says:

    Awh. I’ve gone all pink.

    Intrigued to see Paul has another new face.

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