I recently read and loved Adam Christopher’s urban fantasy Hang Wire (you can read my review here), which is now out from Angry Robot Publishing, and I’m thrilled that Adam agreed to answer a few of my burning questions. So without further ado, please welcome Adam to the blog!
(And might I say, what an awesome author photo, right?)
This question might be a little difficult, but give us a Twitter synopsis of Hang Wire in 140 characters or less.
After a fortune cookie explodes, Ted begins to lose his mind as a sentient circus, ancient gods – and a killer – come to San Francisco.
Hang Wire is set (mostly) in San Francisco, CA. You live in the UK, so I’m wondering why you decided on this setting? I’m assuming you visited or lived there at some point?
I spent some time in San Francisco a few years ago and really fell in love with the place – it reminds me of Auckland, New Zealand (where I’m from), and I knew I had to set a book there at some point.
Hang Wire actually came about after a slightly weird experience in a Chinese restaurant – at the end of the meal, we all got fortune cookies, but mine was a little different. It shattered when I broke it, and instead of having a single fortune inside it was packed full of paper strips, all of which said the same thing:
YOU ARE THE MASTER OF EVERY SITUATION
…which I thought was a better than average fortune! I still have a few of them somewhere, I think.
But it occurred to me then that there was a story to be told there…
Hang Wire bounces around to different times in American history, especially times during major disasters. (Which, by the way, is very important to the overall shape of the story.) What gave you the idea to use this device, and what sort of research did you do?
I’m really interested in American history, and knew a fair bit about California and San Francisco anyway. I also knew that, because of the nature of the evil in Hang Wire, it was going to be tied to the geology of the area – a geology which, obviously, has a major impact on the city. So there was a fair amount of research into the earthquake history of San Francisco for that side of things.
Joel’s journey across the US over the course of the 20th century was something different – he appears each decade, looking for something, and his appearances coincide with weird events. They’re all actual, documented events – although some are more supernatural than others – which came from my own interest in weird phenomena and Forteana. His back story was a lot of fun to piece together – Joel pretty much wrote himself.
I’m always curious when authors have their books published by different publishers. Your first four books were released by Angry Robot, but your next book is coming out from Tor next month. Can you give us some background on how The Burning Dark came to find a home at Tor?
Erm, it was just one of those things, I think! I tend to work with a backlog of novels – so what is coming out now is likely to be the book-before-last that I wrote, if that makes sense. Angry Robot bought two books initially (Empire State and Seven Wonders), and then bought two more (The Age Atomic and Hang Wire), but in the meantime I had a couple of other novels ready to show to someone. One of these was The Burning Dark, so my agent went out with it, and Tor liked it!
I quite like being able to diversify across different publishers and imprints – a book that suits Angry Robot might not suit Tor, and visa versa. There’s nothing wrong with that – in fact, that’s ideal, from my point of view, because it means I work in different genres and subgenres and with different types of story.
Imagine for a moment that you are a performer in The Magical Zanaar’s Traveling Caravan of the Arts and Sciences. What would your specialty act be?
Ha! I’d go for mesmerism. And by that I mean the full, moustache-twirling, top-hat wearing, finger-waggling master of hypnosis. Forget getting people to cluck like a chicken… there’s something dark and mysterious about the 19th century art of hypnosis.
Hmm, that gives me an idea for another book…
What was the last really awesome book you read?
Ooh, tough question. I have to say I’ve had a really good run with books recently, so it’s very difficult to pick favourites.
But any of these are absolutely guaranteed to be good reads: Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh, Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet, The Copper Promise by Jen Williams, Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran Shea.
So, what’s next for you? Can you share any upcoming projects with us?
I’m currently working on the second book in the Spider Wars series from Tor, and after that I’ve got a weird urban fantasy to finish – I’d hesitate to call it a “literary” urban fantasy, but it’s something outside my usual style, for sure – and then I’m into the first book of The LA Trilogy. This is a new series, also from Tor, that will start in September 2015, and is about a robot detective called Ray as he investigates some weird goings-on in 1960s Los Angeles. Think Raymond Chandler meets Lawrence Block… with robots!
Wow, that sounds awesome! I can’t wait…And now for a question I ask all my visiting authors: Please tell us three things about yourself that can’t be found on your website.
- I don’t like olives. Hey, boring, I know… but that’s important to me!
- I got trapped in Toronto during the SARS outbreak of 2003, in the middle of an ice storm that closed the airport, in a 5-star hotel that somebody else was paying for. That was a fun holiday. I mean, business trip! *cough*
- I’m teaching myself the banjo, because one of my ambitions is to be able to play the car chase music from The Dukes of Hazzard.
Thank you so much, Adam! And I promise not to tease you about the olive thing:-)
About the author:
ADAM CHRISTOPHER is a novelist and comic writer. In 2010, as an editor, Christopher won a Sir Julius Vogel award, New Zealand’s highest science fiction honour. His debut novel, Empire State, was SciFiNow’s Book of the Year and a Financial Times Book of the Year for 2012. In 2013, he was nominated for the Sir Julius Vogel award for Best New Talent, with Empire State shortlisted for Best Novel. Born in New Zealand, he has lived in Great Britain since 2006.