The time has come to throw open the sluice gates on Spoiler Dam. If you haven’t finished Emergence I’d advise you to stay the Hell away from the next couple of blog entries.
It’s been a week since The Dave arrived amongst us and the most pleasing thing for me has been the number of readers who’ve finished the book in just a couple of sittings. A few even ploughed through it all in one go on Christmas Day.
I didn’t set out to write a page turner this time. Seriously, I didn’t. What I wanted with this series was to write a fantasy book that I’d like to read. I’ve left behind my infamously ignorant dislike of any stories with magic in them, or at least I hope I have. I still mostly read SF or non fiction to relax, but Steve Stirling and later Peter V Brett have given me to understand that a little slice and dice action with a smattering of magic can be enormous fun. Peter F Hamilton seems to have gone the full mash up in his later Commonwealth novels.
With Dave I wanted to play in that field but also do a few other things. A couple of years ago I tried to interest my publishers in an updated ‘Flashman’ style character. I failed. But that failure sent me back to my note pad in effort to understand why and to come up with a character who could embody all of the best worst elements of George McDonald Fraser’s anti-hero, without falling afoul of what some call modern political correctness, but which I think of as merely being modern manners.
Dave is my Flashman.
He is also, as I said in the acknowledgments an attempt to reframe one of the greatest frustrations I have with both SF and fantasy - the idea of the unslayable monster. Dr Who, especially in the Lethbridge-Stewart era, exemplified this. You had UNIT, a specially designed special forces outfit, tasked with fighting aliens and monsters. They had all of the killing power then available to an advanced industrial civilisation. And not once do I recall them even scratching one of the big bads.
Not good enough, Doctor. Simply not good enough. This whole thing reached an apotheosis for me with Reign of Fire. I went into that film expecting to enjoy two hours of dragons being torn apart by heat seeking missiles. I left gravely disappointed.
Dave is my answer to this.
And finally, Dave is the book I should have written when I first decided to write thrillers. It’s funny. Deliberately, calculatedly funny. It’s been a pleasure to see how much people have enjoyed laughing their way through this book. The next two instalments are even funnier.
I started out as a comic writer, at least in books. It’s what I was first known for, and to a lot of people it’s what I should have stuck to. But that way lies stagnation and boredom. I had to take the business of thrillers seriously, before I could relax enough to start being funny again. I also needed to find the right voice tell that sort of story.
Dave has that voice. And there are a few more coming to join him.