The guys at Quercus have just sent me a mock-up of the paperback cover (which won’t be out until mid-2013) and I think they’ve done a terrific job capturing the flavour of the book.
I designed the Demi-Monde (which is a virtual Victorian-esque dystopia) so that I could have some of my favourite characters from history come out to play. In ‘The Demi-Monde: Summer’ these include Empress Wu (the only female Empress of China), Mao Zedong and Lucrezia Borgia.
Difficult to say; it’s a bit of a mash-up of genres with cyber-fiction, steam-punk and even vampires making a house-call. Basically though it’s a science fiction thriller. The Demi-Monde series has been described as ‘Discworld’s savage noir cousin’ which I think is about right.
Toughie this. In a world without temporal boundaries my picks would be:
Impossible, so I’ll cheat. ‘Set in 2018 the Demi-Monde is the most advanced computer simulation ever devised, a virtual world locked in eternal civil war – thirty million digital inhabitants living and dying in Victorian cyber-slums and led by some of history’s most vicious tyrants – Reinhard Heydrich, the architect of the Holocaust; Beria, Stalin’s arch executioner; and Aleister Crowley, black magician and ‘the wickedest man in the whole world’ – but something has gone badly wrong and the US President’s daughter has become trapped in this terrible world – it falls to 18-year old Ella Thomas, black student and sometime jazz-singer, to rescue her – once Ella has entered the Demi-Monde she finds that everything is not as it seems, that its cyber-walls are struggling to contain the evil within and that the Real World is in more danger than anyone realises.
All that and only one full-stop!
I guess I spent a month researching the historical characters I was going to use and then another couple of months reading up on the elements I needed to incorporate into the story: artificial intelligence; the origins and spread of the proto-Indo-European Language; the ironclad battles of the American civil war; the concepts under-pinning radical feminism and so on and so on.
This world-building lark ain’t easy folks!
Once I had all this organised I started to write. I generally aim to average 2,000 words a day, so a 200,000 word first draft will take three months. Then I spend another three months reworking, remodelling, reshaping and getting rid of the crap I’ve written the only purpose of which is to slow the pace of the story. So … from start to finish, nine months, a natural gestation period, methinks.
The trouble I have with this question is that (shamefully) I read very few contemporary novels, but ‘The Demi-Monde’ has been influenced by any number of books – we all stand on the shoulders of giants – so incorporated into the DM’s DNA are:
As an admirer of the writers of Classic SF and fantasy, I have always thought that attempts to update, or, as Tim Burton would have it, to re-imagine these stories have invariably been poor. But the nadir had to be the BBC’s ‘Jekyll’ which managed to eviscerate the story whilst simultaneously making it risible. Worse: it didn’t ‘honour’ the story. Sitting watching that muddled mish-mash I had the same feeling every writer since the dawn of time has had at one time or another: I can do better than that!
This is what the dissolute and erotically-charged citizens of the Quartier Chaud are wearing this season.
“Rod Rees' first novel is your portal to the Demi-Monde, a steampunk horror-pit crowded with avatars and ruled by history's choice psychos. The writing is state of the art, from the depiction of the quantum supercomputer that underlies the prison-world to Rees's expert manipulation of red-hot genre trends. And it's all exquisitely worked out and told at a cracking pace. the Demi-Monde: Discworld's savage noir cousin. Welcome to holo-hell.”
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