I'm delighted to welcome the next of the 1066 'Tuddites' - author Richard Dee:
Welcome, Richard, and thanks for joining me for some Sunday Chat. It's fair to say that your novels are a world away from England in 1066! How easy did you find it to write a story which was confined by an historical setting?
To me, the setting is just another character, in theory writing about the future is easier because you don’t have to do any research, unfortunately it’s not strictly true. So instead of sitting down and working out the rules of my setting I had to conform, which I always find difficult!
The one thing that remains constant, whatever period you’re writing about is human emotion. Everything else is controlled by that. So whether you’re describing 1066 or 8720 the characters emotions are always there. I think that sometimes you can forget that people in the past were just as emotional as we are, because the accounts we have only give us the bare facts.
Of course, what happened in history is fixed but in the worlds I create the events in them are just as real to the characters. Even though the story is based in 1066, it’s not confined by it; we still find it relevant in today’s setting after all.
Without giving too much away, can you set the scene for your story?
The ordinary is always the start in all my work and this story is no different. Even in the far future, for most people, where they are will be ordinary for them.
I’ve always shied away from over-complicating things; it’s nice to keep things simple. Then when you apply the twist; it’s more of a surprise. And throwing in as many little unconnected clues as I think I can get away with is important, it creates an “A-Ha” moment, especially if it makes people go back for a second look.
So without giving too much away, expect normal – at least to begin with.
Can you tell us about your first two books - would you class them as Sci-fi?
Very much so! There are so many kinds of Sci-fi. From simple tales to galaxy spanning epics. If you want to you can introduce all sorts of technology and things that require a suspension of logic and physics. And you can get away with it. There is no limit to what can make a fantastic story.
Personally, I like to stick to writing about ordinary people doing extra-ordinary things in a different setting. That’s the common thread in both Freefall and Ribbonworld and will be in their sequels.
My style has been compared to that of Asimov and Philip K Dick in reviews (Blush!). It’s high praise indeed and not up to me to comment but if you look at their work that’s what they did. Put believable characters in fantastically imagined situations. The fiction is just as important as the science.
Can you tell us about your latest release? What exactly is 'Steam Punk?
Steam Punk is a sort of alternative version of today, maybe a yesterday that never grew up into the today we have. In the classic form it’s a sort of Victorian high technology, using different methods to provide the power and things that society needs. So I use steam and clockwork in place of electricity and oil.
It means you have to abandon the modern approach and think like Brunel or Telford to make it all work but there’s always another way to achieve the same result. The more I’ve delved into it, the more I’ve realised that if we needed to, we could rebuild a modern technological society without oil. It might not be as slick as what we have today but it could be functional.
Being Victorian, they were the masters of the ornamental flourish, lots of brass and shiny things to make the ugly beautiful. And in an ugly world beauty can often be found in unexpected places.
Once you get things moving in a different direction you can invent things we don’t have today using your new building blocks, I’ve found that there really is no limit to the uses of a good clockwork!
The Rocks of Aserol is available now and the sequel is coming soon.
Is there another event in history that you wish had had a different outcome, another "What if"?
There are so many events that I would like to go back and have a look at myself! I like the idea of a modern Roman Empire or maybe a Viking America but I think that the most interesting one would involve the events at Sarajevo in 1914. If Ferdinand had never been killed then (and it was a close thing; dependant on a lot of chance as all important events are), what would the lost youth have achieved in the twentieth century.
In the time since Waterloo just look at how the world changed. Who could say what those millions who never had the chance or their children could have made or discovered. (There’s an idea for another story!)
Thanks so much for talking to me today, Richard.
Free E-Sampler (A collection of Short Stories and excerpts, free for all e-readers)
1066 Turned Upside Down is available HERE