Science Book a Day Interviews Gareth L Powell

Special thanks to Gareth L Powell for answering 5 questions about his recently featured book – Ack-Ack Macaque

Gareth L. Powell is an award-nominated science fiction and fantasy author from Bristol. He is the author of five novels, including Ack-Ack Macaque, which made the shortlist for the 2013 BSFA Award. His novels have been published in the UK, Germany, the USA and Japan, and all have received enthusiastic reviews in The Guardian. – From Gareth’s Homepage

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#1 – I understand that Ack-Ack Macaque is part of a series. What was the impetus for writing this series of books?

Ack-Ack started out as a short story, which was published in Interzone magazine in 2007. Later, when I was planning a near-future murder mystery and needed a non-human character, it seemed natural to resurrect the monkey. I had so much more to say about him than could be squeezed into a short format. And, after the overwhelmingly positive response to the first book, I was delighted that Solaris commissioned two sequels.

#2 – You bring a series of different worlds together. Steampunk. Enhanced apes. History. What did you have to be mindful of when combining such disparate elements?

I just tried to make it plausible. There’s no point chucking a load of cool stuff into a narrative if the audience aren’t going to believe it. There’s nothing worse than being bounced out of a story by something so totally unlikely that it ruins you suspension of disbelief. So, although I combined a lot of weird and fun stuff in these books, I really tried to do it in such a way that it made sense within the world of the story, and that everything was explained. for instance, I didn’t just assume that my parallel world had Zeppelins, I provided a historical and economic reason why they were there.

#3 – The reviews of your book often refer to it having a cracking plot. Was this your objective? What were your influences for writing a book that moves so quickly?

The book (and its sequels) deal with some weighty issues around the nature of reality and what it means to be human, but they do it in the context of a fast-moving, page-turning adventure. I wanted to make them thoughtful, but also fun.

#4 – How have people responded to your series? How have they responded to such a unique protagonist?

The response from readers and critics has been fantastic, and the book’s garnered some outstanding reviews. I’m extremely pleased and excited that it’s made the shortlist for the 2013 BSFA Award in the best novel category.

#5 – Do you have another book/project coming up that you can tell us about?

The sequel, Hive Monkey, came out in January this year, and the final instalment, Macaque Attack, will hit shelves in January 2015. In the meantime, I am working on an epic psychological space opera.

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