Wednesday, 15 March 2017
Author Interview - Damon L Wakes
What's your name?
Damon L. Wakes
What's the title of your most recent/forthcoming book?
Ten Little Astronauts.
Describe the book in under 100 words.
Ten astronauts are awoken from suspended animation – chosen from a crew of thousands to repair their steadily freezing ship – only to discover that one of their number has been killed, and that the murderer is now amongst them. They are trapped with no lights, no gravity, and no life support. In order to survive and restore the ship to working condition, they must work out who is responsible, because if the impostor doesn’t kill them, the cold will.
Describe the book in under 10 words
And Then There Were None set in interstellar space.
What is your favourite book and why?
Rumo and his Miraculous Adventures by Walter Moers. The book is the size of two or three house bricks and its storyline follows all the conventions of the classical epic. However, it takes place in the most alien fantasy setting I’ve ever come across. There are no orcs or elves: every single character is utterly bizarre and completely original. The protagonist, for example, is an intelligent bipedal horned dog wielding a sword that has multiple personalities. Despite the abundance of unusual creatures with outrageous abilities, though, nothing ever feels like it’s pulled out of thin air when the plot demands it. Any detail that proves significant is always set up well in advance, and the overall story feels totally airtight.
Who is your favourite author and why?
It’s a tough choice, but probably Douglas Adams. I really enjoyed The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as well as the snippets of his work collected in The Salmon of Doubt, and he had the rare ability to tackle serious topics in an absolutely hilarious way. I also admire his text adventures: an early example of what great writing can add to games.
Name a book that you wish you'd written and why?
It would be easy to say The Count of Monte Cristo because it’s extremely long and complicated and writing that would immediately make people think I’m super smart. Honestly, though, I don’t especially wish I’d written any book that currently exists. If the deal is that I get to go back in time and stick my name on the front of a great work of literature that otherwise stays word-for-word the same, I’d rather use my time machine to buy a bunch of winning lottery tickets. It seems marginally more honest and marginally less likely to tear apart the space-time continuum. If the deal is that I get to rewrite that book myself, then I can just go ahead and do it without the time machine. Ten Little Astronauts was largely an exercise in producing a more tense, faster-paced version of And Then There Were None. Fewer dinners, more axe murders. The books I really wish I’d written are the ones I haven’t yet.
Describe a typical writing day for you.
A typical writing day almost always starts with me sitting down at my desk and putting off something else I really should be doing. It usually finishes with me carrying on way longer than I intended. Occasionally I’ll open up a document last thing at night because I haven’t written anything for ages and feel as though I should at least get just a paragraph down. Often that leads to hours more work. Sometimes the hours of work are just a paragraph. I also take part in a lot of events—Flash Fiction Month, Flash Fiction Day, NaNoWriMo, Global Game Jams—that give me an excuse to dedicate some time to writing and offer a set deadline for getting it done. I like to listen to music while I work but it could be pretty much anything: at the moment it’s Gregorian chant covers of well known songs. I hesitate to describe coffee as an “aid” because it makes it sound like I’m liable to be disqualified from writing for the use of performance-enhancing drugs, but that’s probably the main one. My secret is drugs.
What's your biggest frustration as a writer?
Digital Rights Management (DRM). It’s a kind of copy-protection applied to ebooks (among other things) ostensibly to prevent people making pirate copies. There are two problems with this. The first is that anybody with the most basic level of computer literacy can defeat DRM and make copies regardless. This doesn’t involve scrolling torrents of green ones and zeroes: it involves the ability to search for instructions on Google and follow those instructions. The second problem is that although DRM does nothing to hinder pirates, it can cause quite a headache for readers who actually paid for these books and don’t understand why they can’t simply copy them from one device to another for totally legitimate personal use.
How do people find out more about you?
And if you’d like to read the opening of Ten Little Astronauts, you can do so here: https://unbound.com/books/ten-little-astronauts