Please help me welcome author Andrew P Weston to the blog today. He’s agreed to chat with us and answer a few questions. I think you’ll enjoy our interview and that you’ll also like learning about his latest release HELL BOUND.
Don’t forget to enter his giveaway! The link is at the end of the post :)
Let’s get started…
Describe yourself as if you were tweeting…that’s right. You get 140 characters! :)
Time traveler from the future with a dark and mysterious past – presently stuck in the here and now.
Love your tweet! What’s the first thing we’d see when we walked in your front door?
Beady eyes staring back and perky tails. My six cats always rush to welcome daddy home. (It’s a feline fuss frenzy) If it was YOU walking in, you would get the “Give me food now, stranger, or get out” stare.:)
Cats are amazing creatures! What is your favorite meal to cook?
My wife is of Persian origins and taught me how to make authentic spicy cuisine, so I love the whole process of preparing and cooking curry. The herbs and spices, all the vegetables and meats involved. A specific method is required for each ingredient. It takes a couple of hours…but its culinary heaven. (Nom Nom).
Curry is amazing. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
When I found out the first of my children was on the way, I wrote and illustrated a series of books so I’d have something personal to share with them. I invented the character of Willie Whiskers and it was great fun. Handmade paper. Special binders for each book. Coloring pencils and exclusive ink. (I think I enjoyed it more than they did.) It gave me a buzz and inspired me with a longing to do more.
That’s an incredible story Andrew! I love choosing names for my characters. How did you go about choosing yours?
As I am writing for the Heroes in Hell shared universe, (see below) my characters had to be actual persons from history, or well established figures from mythology. You can appreciate, that limited the freedom I had to choose names. However, I could jazz things up when it came to character codenames – which I devised from their main attributes or quirks. For example, the Chief Inquisitor, Strawberry Fields, is based on a dark version of Little Red Riding Hood. Her name and her codename – Redcap – reflect that.
What makes HELL BOUND different from other books in the same genre?
Hell Bound is part of the award winning Heroes in Hell universe created by the esteemed Janet Morris. Let me explain:
Heroes in Hell is a series of shared world fantasy books, within the genre Bangsian fantasy/horror, created and edited by Janet Morris and written by her, Chris Morris, C. J. Cherryh and others. The first 12 books in the series were published by Baen Books between 1986 and 1989, and stories from the series include both Hugo Award winners and Nebula nominees.
Janet Morris continued the series through her own publishing company – Perseid Press – from 2011 onward with, Lawyers in Hell, followed by five more anthologies and a novel since then.
The shared world premise of Heroes in Hell (also called The Damned Saga) is that all the dead wind up together in Hell, where they pick up where they left off when still alive. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy states “In the long series of shared world adventures begun with Heroes in Hell, Hell becomes an arena in which all the interesting people in history can come together to continue the relentless pursuit of their various ends.” Brian Stableford commented that the series “adapted the backcloth of Dantean fantasy as a stage for violent adventures with ironic echoes of infernal comedy.
Of note is the fact that you can’t apply to submit a story. You have to be invited to contribute, and it’s a great privilege being asked to do so. When you consider there are very few novels in this series, you begin to appreciate the distinction Hell Bound holds, as it rubs shoulders with the finest pedigree.
What’s more, when devising the character of Daemon Grim, Janet and I thought one of the best ways of integrating him – and indeed his entire team – into an already established playground, was to ensure their “solo’ adventures run in tandem with what’s happening in the anthologies.
So, Grim was introduced to us in Doctors in Hell, where we found him on a special mission to recover something very precious to His Infernal Majesty. Hell Bound begins at the conclusion of that very same mission. The next anthology will pick up several months after Hell Bound. Hell Hounds – the next solo novel – will commence where that anthology ends, and sets the scene for the next HIH adventure.
Which character is most like you?
I deliberately share myself out so there are aspects of my personality in a number of characters. In this story, Nimrod and Yamato Takeru reflect the more peaceful side of my nature. I’ll let you guess who mirrors the beast inside :)
Do you prefer to write in the morning, afternoon, evening, or just whenever you can?
Sadly, I haven’t quite reached the stage of being a fulltime novelist yet – and I am plagued by the dreaded shift work – so I have to keep a strict schedule and write whenever I can.
What’s the first sentence in your book?
“…Lost in shadow, I surveyed my surroundings and took my time to ensure the area was deserted…”
Intriguing start! What was your favorite scene in HELL BOUND to write and why?
The scene when Grim crosses the Knights Bridge to reach the Cloisters of Scourging.
In a nutshell, I used to work for the British Government and lived in London for a while. (All of the locations within Hell Bound are all based on factual places, warped to suit the sinister nature of the underworld). This particular scene brings back memories of a time I was engaged in a covert follow of…how can I say… targets? It was dark, it was foggy, streetlights created indistinct halos in the mist, and the alleys echoed to the sound of footfalls. (I remember thinking at the time that Jack the Ripper would have been right at home there). In this particular scene, Grim has to pierce an esoteric veil leading from one reality to another, so I used my memories of that night as a basis for the transference. It’s moody, metaphysical, ethereal, and all-round kick-ass. I loved it.
Why should we read HELL BOUND?
Because there’s nothing like it out there.
As I mentioned, its part of a well established, respected, award winning series. And the privilege of contributing a novel has been extended to only a few others.
Give it a try; you’ll soon see why it’s already drawing rave reviews J
What is one of your fondest memories from when you were growing up?
Mixing with all my cousins at Christmas.
I grew up in the 60’s. It was different in those days, more magical and much less commercial. It always snowed; we always had a real tree. And because my mother came from a large family there were endless rounds of visiting and being visited. Days off school stretched on for an eternity and I had so many new books to read…(sigh).
As I say…magical. I suppose that’s why I like to spoil my own family now :)
What is the best part of the writing process for you…the beginning of the book, the middle, or the end…and why?
The end. That final revision before I send it off to the editor represents the culmination of months and months of plotting, planning, research and hard graft. It’s quite a thrill imagining the pleasure readers will get when they delve into it for the first time.
Would you give us a sneak peek into what you’re working on now?
“They say,” write about what you know.
So I’m currently working on the generation of a quantum gateway into hell itself. If I can experience it for real, it will add a depth of realism to my work that’ll really make it stand out.
Ha! Just kidding…or am I?
Thanks so much, Andrew! I enjoyed getting to know more about you and your book.
by Andrew P. Weston
Published by: Perseid Press
Release Date: October 31, 2015
Length: 406 PagesIn hell, none of the condemned believes they deserve to be there. And that’s fine, so long as they’re not foolish enough to try and do anything about it. For those that do, there’s always Satan’s Reaper–and chief bounty hunter–Daemon Grim.
Feared throughout the many layers of the underverse, no one in their right mind dares to cross him.
However, when Grim discovers that someone has attempted to evade injustice, and seems hell-bent on gaining access to ancient angelic artifacts proscribed since the time of the original rebellion in heaven, circumstances point to the fact they may be doing just that.
The question is…why?
Thus begins an investigation that leads Grim throughout the many contradictory and baffling levels of the underworld, where he unearths a conspiracy that is not only eating its way like a cancer through the highest echelons of Hellion society, but one which threatens the very stability of Satan’s rule.
As you can imagine, Grim’s response is bloody, brutal, and despicably wicked.
Hell Bound – In hell, everyone can hear you scream…
Lost in shadow, I surveyed my surroundings and took my time to ensure the area was deserted. The squall outside fell in stinging gusts, creating a tympanic frenzy of contending melodies. I paused for a moment to savor the erratic beat of rain against metal, glass, and corrugated roofing. Only with the greatest effort could I break free from its hypnotic discord to concentrate on the task at hand.
This didn’t take long, for I’d chosen my location well. It was past midnight, and my position at the top of the stairwell afforded me a commanding view of the parking lot outside. Apart from a sole discarded coffee cup tumbling its way along a line of stationary vehicles like a demented gymnast, I was completely alone and invisible to the detritus of humanity sleeping fitfully beneath makeshift shelters throughout the different levels of the garage.
The scant security lighting that still worked did little to illuminate the area. If anything, each lamp created a swathe of gloom that I would use to my advantage, for my assignment here would end shortly: it was almost time to go home.
Just the thought of getting back sent a twinge of pleasure tingling along my spine. While my work afforded me a degree of freedom enjoyed by no one else, I always felt fatigued the longer I stayed away. And a week was simply too long.
Still, it’s been a good harvest. Not only was I able to sort out a major problem for the Boss, but the latest candidates should go a long way toward calming his frustrations.
A faint echo portending ravenous hunger intruded at the edge of my astral perceptions. Adjusting my awareness, I sensed my quarry coming closer. Forewarned, I used the opportunity to mentally review his rap-sheet.
Jesus Toledo Perez. Born 1980, in New Mexico, to Alberto Toledo and Christina Perez. A fraternal twin introduced to his true vocation at the tender age of just five years, when he smothered his sibling, Alana, in her sleep following an infantile spat. Authorities weren’t able to pin anything on him at the time, and how would they? An innocent child, rolling over in the night to cuddle his sister as they slept? Little did the Toledo family appreciate the monster born into their midst that day.
But we did, and that act had drawn him to our attention. For as little Jesus grew up, his crimes progressed from random acts of asphyxiation as a child to the more opportunistic, premeditated, hormone-driven angst of a teenager. By the time he graduated, Jesus had strangled, drowned, and pushed seven people to their deaths.
Hmm. Judging from what it says here, he always acted as if he was daring the authorities to catch him. Just what we want. A cold, calculating killer with a God complex.
I watched him from my place of concealment as he edged his way out onto the top tier from the opposite side of the level. Hiding beneath an oversized golf umbrella, and dressed to the nines in an expensive suit and raincoat, he looked every bit the highflyer currently establishing himself as a philanthropist and charity worker among the city’s homeless.
The perfect cover.
Or so he thinks.
I noticed he was carrying a plastic bag. Despite the wind, I could hear the contents clunking as he moved.
Aha! Going with the poisoned hooch option tonight, are we?
I suppressed a snort at the poignancy of the situation.
I’ve got a real-life Jesus of suburbia right in front of me, but the only salvation he’ll be bringing one of the poor and lowly tonight is a release from the suffering of their miserable lives.
Time to intercede.
Like a wraith, I detached myself from the gloom and stepped out into the night. Within moments, the rain had soaked my hair and beaded my trench coat and sunglasses in a chainmail of translucent pearls. Gliding silently between parked vehicles, the only sign of my advance came from the momentary dimming of the overhead lights as I passed.
I neared my target, and noticed Jesus had stooped low over a congregation of cardboard boxes between two large trucks. The soft chink of glass scraping on concrete signaled his preparations, and in moments several bottles stood on the floor before him.
“There you go,” he crooned, “this’ll help keep you warm on a night like this.”
Several pairs of grubby hands snaked out from darkened alcoves. Grasping at the unexpected gifts they fought among themselves, frantic for any solace that might ease the drudgery of their existence, if only for a little while.
A cap popped, and necks craned as bottles were lifted toward eager lips.
Oh no you don’t!
I swept forward and slapped one of the bottles away from desperate fingers. Full of liquid, it bounced once before exploding in a shower of liquid-crystal splinters.
Jesus spun to face whoever had intervened in his machinations. His look of anger blanched into one of fear as his gaze met mine.
I couldn’t blame him. Despite the glasses, I’d always had that effect on people.
Dressed from head to toe in black, and coming in at over six feet tall, I exuded an air of menace and barely suppressed aggression.
Without taking my eyes from him, I grabbed Jesus by the collar, lifted him off the floor, and addressed the bums now cowering inside their rain-sodden caves. “Ladies and gentlemen, if you value your existence I strongly suggest you stay where you are for the next few minutes. Enjoy your beverages, and the fact that each of you will now live to see the dawning of a brand new day.”
As I concluded my sentence, I flexed, and sent Jesus sailing through the downpour behind me. Only then did I pause to regard the occupants within their shelters.
Nervous, owl-like expressions stared back.
Holding their attention, I nodded once to reinforce my point, then turned on my heels and stalked toward my mark.
Jesus hit the deck with a tooth-jarring thud, and the air whooshed from his lungs. He rolled onto his side, groaning and coughing up blood. Shaking the moisture from his rain-sodden brow, he attempted to push himself up on his hands and knees.
I slowed my advance and unfastened the buttons of my coat. With infinite care, I pulled my left-hand glove off by its fingertips.
A gust of wind brought the coffee cup careening our way.
Tap, tap! Splat! Tappiddy-splat, tap, tap!
Mesmerized, we both stopped to watch as it scudded past and commenced dancing around us in circles. Jesus used the interlude to stagger to his feet. Swaying, he forced down a ragged breath and threw me a dirty look.
Idiot! You’re just making your last moments on Earth all the more unpleasant.
I surged forward, balled my right fist and punched him in the face. His nose shattered with a satisfying crunch. Spinning head over heels, Jesus spiraled away from me, smashed through the doorway, and landed in a heap at the top of the stairwell. I was on him in seconds, but allowed him the courtesy of regaining his wits before I continued.
Jesus struggled to regain his focus. Blinking furiously, he clutched his face and peered up through tear-laden eyes. Although unsteady, I hadn’t quite knocked the stuffing out of him. “Who the fuck are you?” he hissed. “What do you want?”
Sweeping the vent of my coat to one side, I exposed my weapon for the briefest fraction of a second and removed an official-looking document sealed in blood-red wax from an inside pocket.
He caught sight of the hi-tech sickle and froze.
I cracked the seal, unfolded the scroll, and said, “Jesus Toledo Perez. Listen carefully. This is an official Hellegal Declaration. For your crimes against humanity, you have damned yourself, and your life is forfeit. I am authorized by His Satanic Majesty to reap your eternal soul. Sentence is to be carried out immediately. Are there any last words you’d like to say?”
“What?” he spluttered. “Are you kidding me? Are you seriously trying to make out you’re some kind of Grim Reaper?”
Why do they always say that?
“No, this isn’t a joke.” I stepped forward and held out my exposed hand, as if offering to help him stand. “We’ve been watching you ever since you murdered little Alana, all those years ago. Mind you, I’ve got to be honest. Even then, you didn’t stand condemned, childhood naivety and all that. However, because of your course of action since then —” I shrugged, my left hand still proffered. “Well, that’s a whole new ball game.”
I smiled like I was his new best friend.
That did the trick. Reaching out, Jesus accepted my offer.
As we made contact, the letters etched across the parchment glowed white hot. Jesus gasped and his eyes widened in shock. Then the writ itself burst into flames. At that exact moment, he stiffened, as if impaled on a spike of unimaginable agony. All tension drained from his body, and Jesus folded silently onto the floor.
“Another fool successfully bound for hell,” I mumbled. “Speaking of which . . .”
I glanced back out across the parking lot, and checked to ensure my activities had remained unobserved.
Satisfied, I leaned over the internal rails and stared down into the darkness of the sub-basement.
Excellent. Nice and clean, just the way I like it.
The tempo of the rain drumming against the roof increased, as if bidding me a fond farewell.
Time to go.
I removed my other glove to ensure both hands were free, then slid my scythe from its sheath. Depressing the center gem adorning the handle, I listened as a faint whine confirmed a build-up of power. A tingling sensation crawled across my skin. Gripping the staff firmly, I channeled my energy along its length and slammed the butt into the ground.
“Dorash! Mi dreósgadh ânise!” I intoned in ancient Hellanese. (Portal! Open to me now.)
The floor sagged and fell away, as if a sinkhole had opened beneath it. Moments later, a swirling vortex created a void between dimensions. Tongues of lightning played along the edges of a boiling corona. Stabbing out, they probed the walls and railings in a sizzling discharge that sent sparks dancing along my clothes and across the surface of my skin. A stiff breeze erupted in response to the sudden vacuum. Redolent with sulfur and charred flesh, it put me immediately at ease.
With a final glance at the body of the late, not so great, Jesus Toledo Perez, I jumped into the jaws of doom. Engulfed within a maelstrom of kaleidoscopic contradictions, I felt as if I were floating on air before the heady rush of an insane descent swept me away.
Eternity became encapsulated within an instant, and before I knew it I’d slammed into an entirely different type of ground; I felt my spirit resonate to a familiar vibe.
I inhaled the sweet fragrance of home.
Tappiddy-tap, tap, plop!
Eh? I glanced down.
The coffee cup obviously liked my company; it had decided to string along on my descent into hell.
Well, look at that! It got sucked into the vortex along with me.
I determined that perhaps it would be nice to keep this little memento of my latest trip topside. I stooped toward it, but the polystyrene had already blackened, bubbled, and begun to melt.
Bugger! I sighed. Ah well, this place isn’t for everyone.
Andrew P. Weston is Royal Marine and Police veteran from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats.
An astronomy and law graduate, he is the creator of the international number one bestseller, The IX, and also has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Fantasy Society and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.
When not writing, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with one of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories.