Right now I’m reading The Lost Relic by Scott Mariani.
What was your journey from aspiring writer to published author like?
Long! I started writing in 1995, and my first deal was signed in 2010. It was a long journey to undertake, but I never once felt like quitting. For me, the end result was always going to be worth the effort no matter how many rejections I might receive from literary agents. In all, I wrote four screenplays and five novels before producing something that was ‘just right’ for the market. Sometimes it’s luck and timing that help you through. Two of my novels were historical fiction, for which I attempted to gain representation when that portion of the market just wasn’t selling. I had no idea at the time, but just kept plugging away despite being rejected. That’s what gets you there in the end – persistence.
Can you tell us about Covenant?
Covenant is about the discovery of alien humanoid remains found in a 7,000 year old tomb in Israel. The revelatory remains vanish along with their discoverer, and it’s up to a weary former US Marine, Ethan Warner, to uncover the ancient secrets on behalf of the Defense Intelligence Agency. In doing so, he learns that human civilization did not develop quite the way we thought that it did: we were not alone.
Where did the inspiration for Covenant come from?
Covenant was my first original screenplay, written back in 1999 under the title The Nemesis Origin. I’d asked myself why mankind should be so superior in intelligence to other species, and wondered if we could have been genetically enhanced by technologically superior races, and that religions were essentially a distorted historical record of their intervention, as opposed to gods. It turned out that many non-fiction authors had reached this conclusion long before me, but by 2007 as far as I was aware there still hadn’t been a good fiction thriller about this possibility. I decided to adapt the screenplay into a novel, as I’d decided that getting a novel into print, hard as it is, was easier than trying to get a movie made.
What do you hope reader reaction to Covenant will be?
I hope readers love the combination of action and intrigue, but also the depth that I’ve tried to give to the characters, something that is sometimes missing from modern thrillers. Perhaps most of all, I hope that readers learn something, as although a work of fiction the vast majority of the science within the novel is factual. The true origin of life on Earth and throughout the universe is part of the message within the story.
Who are your literary influences?
I have many, as I find inspiration in all story-telling. Names that spring to mind are Willard Price, whom I read as a young child, Wilbur Smith, who writes great epic adventures, and Michael Crichton, whom I discovered in 1993 when I was blown away at the cinema by a movie called Jurassic Park. From that moment on, I was hooked on science and what it had the potential to achieve in the future.
I've spoken to several authors who wish that they could write sci-fi. Does it take something unique to write a book with an alien theme?
I don’t think so. It depends on the story itself: Covenant is a “what if” scenario, and so relies heavily on real science to be as convincing as possible, but a true sci-fi novel allows an author to let their imagination fly beyond the constraints of reality in the manner of Star Wars or similar. For an author contemplating writing something like Covenant, I’d say it takes a willingness to do a lot of research in order to hook the reader into thinking: “this could actually happen.”
What has been the best part of becoming a full time writer?
Everything. My friends don’t always believe it, but money wasn’t the main driving force behind wanting to be a full-time writer. My big dream, the image that I kept in my mind for fifteen years as an aspiring writer, was waking up on a weekday morning, looking out of the window and asking myself: “Okay, what shall I do today?” It’s the freedom that I love the most – if I want to work, that’s okay because I love writing. But if the sun’s out and I fancy taking a day off, it’s my call. Nothing beats that.
What are you working on next?
I’m working on book three in the Ethan Warner series, Continuum. I won’t give away too much, but it’s about one man’s ability to ‘move’ through time – and once again it’s based on real science and technology.
Covenant will be published by Simon and Schuster on the 1st of September. It is available to pre-order now.