Hey everyone! Hope you’ve all been epic or good at it! I’m back today with an interview for you – the first I’ve done in a very long time, and with a writer and storyteller that has been at the forefront of the UK’s SFF industry for many years – Danie Ware.
Danie day-jobs at Forbidden Planet and is in charge of the awesome retailer’s social media presence, organizing events such as book launches and author signings, and is also in charge of FP’s marketing strategy. But this might be news to you, because Danie is also the author of Ecko Rising and Ecko Burning, the first two novels in a trilogy that has been gaining rave reviews and generating controversy, too. I read and loved Ecko Rising (you can read my review here), and I’m most certainly looking forward to Ecko Burning. As I’m sure many of you are, too!
And if you have no idea who Danie is, and haven’t heard of Ecko, where the hell have you been?! Seriously, though, here’s some info on the first two books of her trilogy.
In a futuristic London where technological body modification is the norm, Ecko stands alone as a testament to the extreme capabilities of his society. Driven half mad by the systems running his body, Ecko is a criminal for hire. No job is too dangerous or insane.
When a mission goes wrong and Ecko finds himself catapulted across dimensions into a peaceful and unadvanced society living in fear of ‘magic’, he must confront his own percepions of reality and his place within it.
A thrilling debut, Ecko Rising explores the massive range of the sci-fi and fantasy genres, and the possible implications of pitting them against one another. Author Danie Ware creates an immersive and richly imagined world that readers will be eager to explore in the first book in this exciting new trilogy.
Order your copies here from Amazon US, here from Amazon UK, and here if you’re in South Africa.
***BEWARE OF SPOILERS WHEN READING THIS BLURB***
Ruthless and ambitious, Lord Phylos has control of Fhaveon city, and is using her forces to bring the grasslands under his command. His last opponent is an elderly scribe who’s lost his best friend and wants only to do the right thing. Seeking weapons, Ecko and his companions follow a trail of myth and rumour to a ruined city where both nightmare and shocking truth lie in wait.
The book is available right now, so order your copies from Amazon UK here; it will be released in the US on June 3rd 2014 (pre-order here), and if you’re in SA, you could order your copies from Exclusive Books and start reading in a week or three.
Right, let’s get to that interview, shall we?
1) Would you please tell us a bit about yourself? Everyone in the UK SFF industry (and probably a good number in the US industry, too), know you through your day-job at Forbidden Planet – tell us a bit about the Danie Ware that most people don’t know. )
I’m a forty-something single Mum, with a nine-year-old son of whom I’m very proud – and he’s been very patient with my writing, bless him! Other points of note: at thirteen, I went to an all-boys’ boarding school, then went on to read old school English Lit at Uni – lots of Milton and Chaucer. After that, I ran around on battlefields and hit people with swords for a decade or so. I moved to London in 2000 and I don’t really swear that much!
2) Were you always a storyteller at heart, or was it a need that gradually grew? Can you remember the first story you wrote? Tell us about it.
I’d’ve been about ten or eleven, I guess. It was a horse story (was learning to ride at the time, and ‘going through the phase’). I called it The Fire Saddle, wrote it all out by hand, PAGES of it, with maps and illustrations and cover art and you-name-it. It was absolutely honking terrible.
But, I’ve always been a storyteller, I think it’s a cathartic necessity. In the running-round-with-swords days, we all told our stories together, shared our worlds and realities and creativity – and a lot of Ecko is owed to those times.
3) In your opinion, do good writers make good storytellers? Or vice versa?
There are many different breeds of writer. A good copywriter is a different beast to a good novelist or a good journalist – though there’s no rule to say that a writer can’t be good at more than one discipline.
Good storytelling is about passion – about having an emotional involvement. The writer in you brings structure and narrative arc and all of that sensible stuff – but to be a storyteller, it has to come from your heart as well as your head.
4) Ecko is your unique creation – why him? What is it about him that made you want to write his story?
Though he originally had a different name, Ecko sprang into being, fully formed, one night when I was watching ‘Repossessed’. There’s a sequence where Linda Blair comes up off the bed, her face contorting, and snarls, ‘What crawled up your ass and died?’ and the entire concept, character and attitude, came from that moment.
He’s compelling because he’s not a character that reacts in half-measures. I never know what he’s going to be do next, and that makes him interesting. In times of frustration and anger, he’s been a deeply satisfying character to write. At other times, mustering his attitude has been quite hard.
Either way, his sarcastic sense of humour gave me slightly sardonic tone of voice that I needed to write about the fantasy world.
5) Ecko’s world and the world that he later finds himself in both have, for want of a better word, echoes of our own, yet are different and memorable – can you tell us a bit about how these worlds came to be? Did you create them and then fit the characters to them, or did the characters necessitate the creation of these worlds?
In our storytelling youth, our worlds and characters were created by osmosis – by a gang of us, sharing our visions and insights and foolishness. Pushing boundaries was what we did – we took the basics and played with them, we trashed and re-invented them. They grew organically and over time.
When I started writing again, I had to apply the editorial red pen – to make them work with the story. The addition of Pilgrim and Doctor Grey to the future London, for example, or the choice to base the fantasy culture on the cycling trade of a specific material – these things were new, and necessary.
The main characters, including Ecko himself, underwent the same editing process. Though there’s one, completely new, major character in Ecko Burning!
6) Many writers / storytellers are asked about the themes present in their novels – did you focus on themes in Ecko Rising? Did they grow organically or consciously?
The film ‘Run, Lola, Run’ shows how a tiny decision can change a whole pattern of unfolding events – a good visualisation for the ‘fractal reality’ theme. On one level, everything Ecko does is reflected throughout the pattern, and hence clearly visible – he can’t get away with anything. On another level, it brings with it the question of his freedom – is everything he does a part of the pattern and pre-ordained? Or is he free to move as he chooses and therefore change the pattern around him?
In its simplest form, this concept was built-in, right from the very beginning.
As the story unfolded, though, it came to encompass the pattern of the fantasy world itself – its Elemental and seasonal development, how the grass lives and dies, and the cycling patterns of the terhnwood trade.
I wish I was a mathematician, because I love fractals and I’d like to be able to draw it!
7) What can we look forward to in Ecko Burning? Have you upped the odds or gone for a ‘breath before the storm’?
Now that would be telling! I’ll say that you’ll find out more about the world and it’s culture and politics, how it works and how it can be taken apart. You’ll find out more about where centaurs other mythical beasties and come from – and what their agenda might be. You’ll see more of Ecko’s London. And you’ll hopefully meet a few surprises!
8) What is it about genre fiction that you hate, and what do you love?
I love how much freedom genre fiction has to express and explore – I love its scope and escapism, and the worlds to which it came take us. I get quite grumpy when those worlds all look the same, and all adhere to certain core concepts.
This is a bit of a hot potato at the moment – but I’m kind of pleased that Ecko’s been as controversial at it has. If it pleased everybody, I wouldn’t have written it right!
9) If a movie-trilogy was made of your trilogy, which director do you think would have the best chance of ‘getting’ Ecko?
Oooo that’s a hard one. I see Ecko as manga/animation – London done like Akira and the Varchinde like Ghibli’s Earthsea. I wouldn’t like to peg a Director to it, but I love the idea of the colours and the brightness and the contrast of one world to the other – or the filming sequences seen through Ecko’s oculars, complete with UV, IR targeting, or watching it move differently if his adrenal boosting kicked.
It would really underline the differences between the character and the world – and would look awesome!
10) If you had to pick one thing that you like most about your job at Forbidden Planet, what would it be, and why?
That’s an easy one – it’s being able to be a part of the SF/F community and to bring something to it that’s both meaningful and useful. It’s being able to host and attend events and to be involved in everything to such an intense degree. The presence of my son means that I don’t get to as many events as I’d like – so I’m waiting for him to be old enough to take with me!
Remember, Ecko Burning was released today and should be hitting UK-bookshelves even as you read this, so get out there and get your copies!
I’d like to thank Danie for taking the time to answer these questions, and I’d also like to thank Sophie Calder at Titan Books who arranged this interview for me. You both rock, thank you! For more info on Danie and her fiction, check out her official website.
Until next time,
P.S. I’ll be getting stuck into Ecko Burning as soon as I receive my copy, so expect a review soon.