Please help me welcome today’s guest, James Austin McCormick…
Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?
I live in Manchester, UK, one of the rainiest places in a rainy country. I’m married with two daughters, no pets, and I teach at a college. I’ve been writing for over twenty years and prefer writing speculative fiction mainly.
Where did you get the idea for Dragon?
Dragon is science fiction and the title refers to a sentient craft the two protagonists fly around in. The novel began as a fantasy, with an elf, a barbarian and a ‘real’ (well, not real but you know what I mean) dragon. All three survived the change of genre when I re-worked it as science fiction but Dragon transformed into a space craft.
Why did you choose this genre (is it something you’ve written in before)?
I love mixing genres and science fiction with a fantasy flavor worked very well for me.
Was there anything unusual, any anecdote about this book, the characters, title, process, etc, you’d like to share?
I based the two main characters, Sillow, a neurotic, hyperactive and diminutive elf and Brok, a huge, surly and ill-tempered barbarian on the head, and assistant head, of my English department when I worked at a university in Taiwan.
What is the most difficult thing about writing a book?
The editing. For example, Dragon works as a series of seven- chapter stories, each one a stand-alone tale yet also continuing an overall story arc. I wanted each one to be as exciting and action packed as possible (the book has been both praised and criticized for this). To do this I had to heavily edit the manuscript, eventually taking out twenty thousand words which wasn’t an easy thing to do.
What was the most difficult thing about this one in particular?
Getting the chemistry between the two main characters right. They are like the odd couple in space and constantly quarreling yet as the story continues a friendship begins to develop. It took a lot of time and effort to get this right (I hope).
What do you love that most people don’t like and wouldn’t understand why you do? I love narrow boating, getting on the English canals. Most of my friends think it’s incredibly boring but I love the peace, relaxation and sense of freedom when I do it. I sometimes fantasize about dropping out of society altogether and becoming a roamer of the waterways like an old friend of mine did.
What was your first job?
I was a butcher for seven years. During that time, I did academic courses in the evening. I left the job when I went to university. I’ve been a vegetarian ever since, I’m sure as a result of this first job.
What actors would you like in the main roles if your book were made into a movie? I’ve always seen Dragon as a CGI movie with Michael J. Fox voicing Sillow and Michael Dorn voicing Brok.
Would you rather have a bad review or no review?
No review I think. It all depends though, I’ve had some 3-star reviews that I think are fair and point out both good and bad points. Those are fine.
What is your favorite quote?
Michel De Montaigne’s “My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened.” It is funny but also makes us realize how much time we waste worrying. Eckhart Tolle should have included that quote in his amazing book The Power of Now. However, my favorite movie line of all time is by the Tall Man from Phantasm 2, “You think that when you die you go to heaven. You come to us.”
Have you written any other books that are not published?
Not books but I have around twenty or so short stories, some of them I’m very proud of, which have yet to be published.
Your favorite Movie
I think I’d have to say the Phantasm series because I’ve watched them so many times, even now. As for why I like them, where to begin? In my opinion The Tall Man (Jebediah Morningside) is one of the most iconic horror villains of all time, the center of a cosmic, predatory web of evil, stealing the minds and bodies of its victims. Reggie Bannister meanwhile has just the right mix of comic fallibility and courage to make him a very likeable hero.
About the Author:
James Austin McCormick is a college lecturer from Manchester, England and his free time enjoy writing speculative fiction, mostly science fiction, horror and a little sword and sorcery fantasy. He is also a particular fan of classic Gothic and Victorian horror tales and is currently in the process of writing updated versions of these with a science fiction spin.
Find out more about James at:
Blurb for Dragon:
As worlds conspire against each other, Gax, an insane warlord, stockpiles an arsenal of ancient technology in his attempt to rule known space.
Two ill matched and reluctant heroes stand in his way; Sillow, a neurotic and cowardly Sylvan and Brok, a surly and ill tempered Herkulun warrior. After a chance meeting in a seedy, mobster owned casino the two find their fates interlinked as they are propelled into a series of hair raising adventures that takes them from wanted smugglers to agents of a peace keeping alliance.
Asmara was a small desert moon orbiting its gas giant parent at a distance just great enough to put it outside the planet’s radioactive reach. It was a cold, dusty little place, barely capable of supporting microbic life. Yet it did have one thing in its favor, its location.Asmara was in the gray zone, an area of space almost central to the six worlds. None dared lay claim to it and consequently it was free of all outside authority. That was why the crime syndicates built their Pleasure Dome there, and in the two decades after the Dark Age Wars it flourished.
It was here, at one of the casino tables, the last three players of a merciless card game studied their hands. Two of them, a human and a reptilian Tuolon, were far from happy, glaring angrily at the third player as he whistled out a tuneless melody. If Sillow had been human, he would have been judged to be no more than fourteen. He wasn’t; he was a Sylvan, and his childlike face and adolescent build were quite normal for his twenty-five years.
As he looked over his cards from beneath a shock of dark green hair, only his large eyes were visible. It was just as well, for his lips moved frantically as he mentally played through the possible scenarios.
Finally he gave a little nod and placed his cards face down. He took his cigar from the ashtray and began puffing heavily on it. The human, a skinny man with pockmarked features, ran a hand over two day’s stubble,
“Make your damn move,” he growled. “If you’ve got the goods, show them.”
Sillow shrugged. “Hey, give me a break Garrick,” he replied in his soft, musical voice. “You can’t rush something like this.”
He looked at his cards again, studying them as he blew smoke rings in the air. His little feet tapped all the while on the hard marble floor.
His fellow players regarded him with extreme irritation, and the human cameto the decision the Sylvan was playing mind games with them. The truth though was far different. Sillow was scared and was trying to decide how best to safely extricate himself and the credits he needed from his present circumstances.
Although he couldn’t say why, he was certain now the Tuolon was a professional assassin here to kill him. His would be killer even blewhis ship up to stop him escaping.
Since then the little Sylvan had been busy at the tables making the money he needed to get a freighter off the Dome. There was a royal summons to answer and he’d delayed too long already. The message was just one word, Suleiman.
“Okay, ready,” he finally announced. “You want to see this hand it’ll cost you…” he paused for effect, “six more credits.”
The human thought hard for a moment, shook his head then threw the chips into the pot in the middle of the table.
Paperback from the publisher’s website: http://www.classactbooks.com/component/virtuemart/science-fiction/dragon-396-detail?Itemid=0