Ian Graham is a fantasy novelist living in the North of England. His debut novel, Monument, was published in 2002 by Orbit Books. Monument is published in the USA by Ace and in France by Bragelonne. He is currently working on a prequel to Monument.
“Ian is big and hairy. But more importantly, he’s a cracking, awesome, brilliant fantasy writer. Check out Monument! I dare you.” –Andy Remic.
1. What is the working title of your next book?
2. Where did the idea for the book come from?
Dead Fire is a prequel to Monument, my previous novel. In Monument, Anhaga Ballas, the protagonist, is in middle age, friendless, living rough and a touch over-fond of the bottle. The key to writing Dead Fire was imagining what Ballas would be like in his early twenties, long before the bitterness, booze and isolation had set in.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Dark medieval fantasy.
4. What actors would choose to the play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Oliver Reed would have made the ideal Ballas. He had the right air of brooding, bullish insolence and dog-eared dignity. Of course, being dead, Ollie won’t be available to play the role – unless some pretty staggering medical breakthroughs are made sometime soon. Fingers crossed, eh?
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Anhaga Ballas goes to Hell.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I am contracted to produce another couple of books for those fine folk at Orbit, may God have mercy on their souls.
7. How long did it take to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Grief, there’s a question. I’ve been slogging away at the thing for yonks, and because the initial versions are extraordinarily haphazard, it is impossible to pinpoint a moment where I can safely say, Yes, this counts as a draft. And I’ve have never written the endings of these pseudo-drafts, either: I find it more helpful to wait until I arrive at the conclusion in the final draft before deciding exactly what ought to happen. It’s a great way of filling one’s life with unimaginable terror and stress.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
David Gemmell was a big influence, of course, though I confess that I am pretty out of touch with what’s going on in the genre at the moment. As I spend so much time writing fantasy, it tends to be the last thing I want to read when I switch off the word processor. But I do read my chum Andy Remic’s material, often in draft form; he and I have an informal critiquing group, which we wittily call “The Stinklings”, after CS Lewis and Tolkien’s critical gatherings. From reputation alone, I’d say that my stuff might also be put in the same category as Joe Abercrombie’s work, and that of Richard Morgan.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
A strong curiosity about Anhaga Ballas’s early life was the main driving force, as well as an interest in the varieties of interpretation which can be placed upon mystical and religious experiences.
10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
A tricky one, this. I like the story because at heart, it is – hopefully – a fast-moving adventure tale, not entirely lacking in intelligence and moral complexity. A lost civilization, an oppressive – though not always immoral – theocracy, fights, cart-chases, snake-venom, gigantic hunting dogs, the afterlife and a chap getting roasted to death in a kiln . . . This is a book to treasure through the ages. Or borrow from the library, once.
Alas, it seems that every other writer I know or have heard of has already been tagged in The Next Big Thing. So I shan’t nominate anyone. I fear that I may be the terminus of a meme.