As part of Sci-Fi Month, I’m very excited to share my interview with SF author Tade Thompson, whose latest novel Rosewater has just been released from Apex Books. Tade Thompson is a damn good writer and his book checked all sorts of boxes for me. I’m thrilled to host him here today, so please welcome Tade to the blog!
Let’s start with an introduction. Tell us a bit about yourself…
Agh, the most difficult to answer! All right, I live and work in the UK on the south coast. I’ve been a sci-fi/fantasy fan since I was five. My background is in psychiatry and social anthropology. My genes are from West Africa with a tiny contribution from Brazil.
Your latest novel, Rosewater, just came out from Apex Books, one of my favorite small publishers. How has your experience with Apex been, and how did you end up publishing with them?
I’ve worked with Apex since 2012 when I was one of the authors in The Apex Book of World SF 2. I was also published in Apex Magazine at some point. I found them to be professional, with a true love for the weird. If you look at their back catalogue you’ll see that they take chances. I also enjoy their artistic choices when it comes to covers.
They had an open submission period, so I sent Rosewater to them. The rest is history, as they say.
The experience has been great, with openness, flexibility, transparency and friendliness. Especially since I had such a poor experience with the small press of my first novel Making Wolf. Apex welcomes author input and truly consider all suggestions. Jason and Lesley make it look easy.
Rosewater is one of the craziest, most original science fiction stories I’ve read in quite some time! I understand you wrote a short story called “Bicycle Girl” a few years ago, which revolves around one of the characters from Rosewater. What led you to expand this universe into a novel?
Thank you! Rosewater actually takes place in a universe I first explored in 2004, in a short story called “The McMahon Institute for Unquiet Minds” which was published in Ideomancer Magazine. I kept thinking of the world and modifying it as the years went by. “Bicycle Girl” was the third story I set in the same universe. There is a character in Rosewater called Dominic. I told his story in a story called “Slip Road”. The world kept expanding. I only felt confident to start a novel when Kaaro’s character became clear in my mind, especially since he had to carry the whole book.
Rosewater takes place in Nigeria. What made you decide to set your story there?
I’ve lived in Nigeria and I wanted to capture some aspects of my experiences before time wiped memories away. I also want readers to expand their thinking about where and how aliens encounter us. Why would they care about our monuments? Perhaps because we do. But then it means we’re anthropomorphising aliens, in which case they are not truly alien. We all know New York. We should try some other venues. I was tickled when Captain America: Civil War had an opening scene set in Nigeria (although shame on you, fact-checkers. You got the pronunciation wrong!), and I thought it was a good start. Today, a small scene in Captain America. Tomorrow…?
Your novel revolves around an alien presence called Wormwood, a life form that is slowly insinuating itself into humans at the cellular level. It’s a terrifying idea, and I loved how different it is from your usual alien-invasion-spaceship stories. What gave you the idea for this unusual form of invasion?
It started with a question. How could aliens invade us quietly? What could be more quiet than invading cells? To delve further into this would be too spoilery.
One of the big mysteries of your story is that America has gone “dark” and no one knows what has become of the country or its inhabitants. Do you have any plans to expand on this world and maybe explore what happened from the American point of view?
I know exactly what happened to America and why. There are some hints in Rosewater , but I intend to explore The American Question in another book. I have the mechanics of the plot worked out, but writing about America is a massive undertaking. I’ll need to take research trips to find the soul of the place (in my imagination this takes place on a long blacktop with me in a Mustang trying to avoid Highway Patrol). It has to read like America to Americans, and that’s no walk in the park.
As an avid reader, I always love hearing about the books authors love. What are some of your favorite SFF books, and did any of them inspire your own writing?
All my reading inspires my writing, and I read everything including instruction manuals and patents registered in 1879.
A non-exhaustive list would include Dune, House of Leaves, Frankenstein, The Dispossessed, The Turn of the Screw, Perdido Street Station, Maul, Watchmen, The Vorrh, City of Saints and Madmen, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Synners, The Midwich Cuckoos, The Winter Men, The Etched City, The Andromeda Strain, The Hobbit, 1001 Nights, and the list goes on.
Please tell us three things about you that can’t be found on the internet.
-My English teacher is on my Facebook page and I secretly fear the day he’ll read one of my books and send it back to me with corrections in red.
-I have a recurrent dream of being trapped among giant golf balls. I’ve had this since childhood. I have no idea what it means.
-When I read Frankenstein I have more sympathy for the monster than Victor Frankenstein.
This has been fun, thanks again for stopping by! You can read my review of Rosewater here.
TADE THOMPSON lives and works in the south of England. His first novel MAKING WOLF won the 2016 Kitschies Golden Tentacle award for best debut novel. He has written a number of short stories including BUDO at Escape Pod. His horror novella GNAW will be released in December from Solaris Books. ROSEWATER is out now.
**Be sure to stop by this Wednesday, because I have a giveaway starting, and you’ll have a chance to win a copy of Rosewater!