>Interview with Steven Savile
Q. Hi Steven, how are things with you?
Not bad. Not bad at all. Working hard which is always a bonus.
Q. Can you tell us about some of the projects you are working on?
Right now, at this minute there are four – Black Chalice, an Arthurian novel for Abaddon in the UK, which is basically a quest for the Devil’s Grail; Sea of Sorrows, a pirates and zombies novel for Simon and Schuster set in the Guild Wars 2 universe; Gold, the follow-up to Silver; and a computer game for Electronic Arts. Like I said, working hard.
Q. You have a number of Tie In novels published. How do you approach these? Do you treat them any differently to one of your own novels? And do you try and push the boundaries of the remit?
Generally I try to do my very best with every book I do, so you get the best damned Stargate book I can write, or the best damned Primeval book I can write. I only do properties I am a fan of. I don’t think I could dedicate 3-6 months of my life to something I didn’t genuinely enjoy. As to pushing the remit, erm, possibly, sort of, slightly. Say with Stargate, I’ve wanted to write about the very frightening rise of fascism in Europe right now, so I proposed a story in an alien culture where racial cleansing is going on, and tried to spin it in a very ‘fantastical’ way whilst still asking myself some hard questions about what I really believe, which is exactly what I’d do writing something like Silver.
Q. Do you have a dream Tie in novel you would like to write ?
Right now, from the current crop of tv shows, I’d jump at the chance to do a Castle novel, or a Warehouse 13 novel. The other one would be Supernatural. If we’re going back, Quantum Leap. Something set after Sam met God in the bar…
Q. What made you first want to be a writer?
My first conscious memories of wanting to be a writer go back to about age 17, in the summer between college and university when I started thinking seriously that I fancied the idea of journalism as a career. I went up to my room, and on one of these really old Imperial typewriters (a cast iron affair) wrote the first 30 pages of a comic fantasy novel about a wizard in Old Yawn, who was basically Sam Spade with a magic banana… full of lines like ‘She rolled her eyes at him. He picked them up and rolled them back.’ It wasn’t good.
Q. Do you have favourite out of all your published work
Out of the published novels, Silver. By far and away. Of the unpublished, London Macabre… which is quite utterly mad.
Q. As someone who has published in a number of different genres do you have a favourite?
I feel most comfortable in the thriller genre, which surprised me, but I think as my reading habits have changed, I’ve become less interested in the special effects and more interested in the heart of the story. To thrill and frighten without gimmicks.
Q. How do you go about writing? Do you fully plot it out beforehand, or do you go with the flow?
For the tie-ins I plot chapter by chapter, very deeply. For my original novels, I do a bucket load of research, I mean a mad amount, probably for about a year, and in that time the story takes shape, but I don’t actually outline it beyond a one or two page document. That doesn’t mean I don’t know where it’s going, in truth, I probably spend twice as long if not longer building this mosaic in my head, I just tend to leave it there to allow for a more organic writing process when it comes to writing word one.
Q. How to you feel about the current state of the publishing world?
Depressed. Concerned. Doubtful. Dubious. Lots of not good words. We’re getting to a position where only sure-fire bestsellers can be risked in terms of investment, meaning a lot of great books, books that should be being published by big houses but might only draw a small but loyal following will never see the light of day in New York – and do you know why? Because no editor ever got fired for NOT buying Harry Potter, or Twilight, or the Wheel of Time or whatever the next huge thing is, they only ever get fired for buying books that don’t sell. So, how can they be expected to go to bat for less commercial titles that they love? Answer, they can’t. So, for a while, I think, we’re going to be watching authors doing the sink or swim thing on the kindle… and hoping that it isn’t just a case of the shit floats.
Q. How do feel about e-books, and will you be releasing some of your earlier hard to get novels in e-book form?
I’ve recently put out The Sufferer’s Song, Laughing Boy’s Shadow and The Last Angel on the Kindle and other formats, Angel Road will no doubt follow. I’m also doing a series of straight to Kindle novellas with a few friends like Steve Lockley, Willie Miekle and Scott Nicholson. I did a 24 hr challenge not so long ago, from the concept and cover being delivered by the publisher to the finished novella being available to buy on the Kindle for 99c 24 hrs later. Stuff like that’s fun. I guess it is a case of embrace it or be washed away by it. There was something satisfying about putting Sufferer’s out in this format though, given it began life as an e-serial…
Q. Silver was one of my favourite reads of the past 12 months, can you tell us of the inspiration behind it?
There are lots of places I could begin – a decade ago having a great idea for a story based upon this documentary I’d just seen about the Knights Templar and the Priory of Zion, for instance, or throwing the copy of Angels and Demons I was reading into the Red Sea because I’d just read the one paragraph description of the Da Vinci Code and realised that I could not write the novel I had been mulling over for almost 5 years… or later, when the editor at Variance basically said ‘Can you give us an historical thriller like the Da Vinci Code? We need an outline by the morning.’ And I decided okay, can’t do Mary any more, but whose story hasn’t been told? Judas… and what’s the key to his tale? Betrayal and thirty pieces of Silver. Then I started researching and in Josephus found references to Judas’ grandson being the head of the Sicarii assassins… the dagger men… and from there it just all started to fall together.
Q. can you reveal anything about its follow up?
Well, obviously Silver ends with something of a bang… so Gold has to ramp up events even higher. I can tell you that it’ll fill in plots laid during the few days while the Pope lay in state, will twist everything you think you’ve worked out in Silver on its head… and in those last few lines there’s a really important link between two separate events in Silver that will play out in Gold… dramatically. I’d love to tell you more, but the minute I do, I’ll start giving away massive plot points because my head is full of the thing right now and I’ll just go ‘ooh and this is cool’ and ‘ahh you need to know about that!’
Q. Have you met Hannah from Primeval ?
Alas no. The guys who did book three and four got invited onto set and met the team, but being the first book in the series I missed out on all the perks.
Q. So what does the future hold for you?
I’m just finishing off Black Chalice, an Arthurian quest novel, about the Devil’s Grail. I’m also writing the script of a huge FPS game for Electronic Arts and Sea of Sorrows, a novel for Guild Wars 2. After that, seriously, I’m considering striking out with a new series of thrillers under a penname… a clean start. We shall see.
Many thanks Steven for taking the time to answer these questions. I recommend picking up a copy of Silver it is a damn fine read