Jason M Hough’s new book The Darwin Elevator, the first of a trilogy called the Dire Earth Books, has hit the shelves and we at FTN were, frankly, blown away by it. So imagine our excitement when we got the chance to chat to the man himself.
FTN: Firstly Jason, I just want to say how much I loved your book and that I cant wait for the next installments.
JMH: So glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for interviewing me!
FTN: Believe me, it’s our pleasure. Are you surprised by the reaction your debut novel has received?
JMH: Absolutely. At every step in this process I kept thinking no one would like it, and in a strange way I’m still waiting for that shoe to fall.
FTN: Have you always wanted to write science fiction?
JMH: I’ve always wanted to be a creator and science fiction is certainly my passion in terms of genre. Years ago, in the mid-80s, my goal was to direct movies. But then I started getting into 3D animation and decided I wanted to be an animator. This led me to a career in game design. But after a while I stopped doing that and took up writing as a hobby to keep me occupied creatively.
“At every step in this process I kept thinking no one would like it, and in a strange way I’m still waiting for that shoe to fall”
FTN: Where did you get the design idea for the elevator?
JMH: I first heard about space elevators when I read Arthur C. Clarke’s The Fountains of Paradise, and fell in love with the concept. In terms of the design I used in the books, I wanted to go with the simplest possible setup for a space elevator in order to keep the science and physics in the book to a minimum. My goal was to write an accessible sci-fi novel, so I purposefully avoided the more complicated visions for space elevator construction.
FTN: Why is the novel set in Darwin Australia?
JMH: I needed a location near the equator for a space elevator to work. So when it came time to pick a place, I was scanning the globe looking for anything that jumped out at me and when I saw the city of Darwin I instantly knew the name of the book. The extra meaning the name brings is perfect! I just couldn’t pass it up.
FTN: Do you find it more enjoyable to create heroes or villains?
JMH: They’re both a lot of fun to write. Villains because they’re doing all this nasty stuff that you as a person find deplorable, so it’s oddly fun to let yourself get immersed in that mindset. In truth, all characters are fun for that reason, but villains moreso. Heroes are fun in a challenging way – they need to be flawed and to wrestle with those flaws and they need to be constantly walking that razor’s edge of failure so that the reader is invested in what happens. I think this is something most beginning writers don’t understand. The natural instinct is to treat the good guys with kid gloves.
FTN: Can you tell us what’s next for your characters?
JMH: Sorry, no spoilers from me! Luckily you won’t have to wait long, the series continues with The Exodus Towers in August and then The Plague Forge in September (see pic below).
Villains [are more fun to write] because they’re doing all this nasty stuff that you as a person find deplorable, so it’s oddly fun to let yourself get immersed in that mindset
FTN: Finally, the name Skyler Luiken a play on the name Luke Skywalker or a happy coincidence?
JMH: Great question! Happy coincidence, if you can believe it. He was originally named after my dutch friend Wiek, but given that it’s pronounced “weak” it seemed to me not quite right for the hero of the story. So I changed it to Skyler early on (actually, originally I spelled it Schyler but this tripped up some readers). The comparison to Luke came to me in one of those fascinating moments where a character blurts out a line the writer wasn’t expecting. It’s hard to explain to people who don’t write, but Prumble literally said the line and I just wrote it. That was when I realised the similarity. I actually considered changing the name again at that point, but my beta readers thought it was cool and compelled me to keep it in.
Thanks again for talking to me!
FTN: Totally our pleasure and we can’t wait to get into the rest of the trilogy