Stuart Conover (SC): First off I’d love if you could share with my readers a little about the third book in your zombie themed trilogy ‘Dead Inside’? Also if you could share a little about the world that you’ve created throughout the series?
Gareth Wood (GW): Dead Inside was what happened when I decided to take a look at how a community might develop in the span of years after a ZA occurred. Rather than focus on characters from the previous books I took an almost clean break and started fresh in a new place, several years later. So the world has evolved a bit in the time since Age of the Dead finished. There are some threats that have vanished, and others that have surfaced. The zombies are still there, but people are aware of the risks and know how to deal with them. Mostly.
The world of the series is a bleak one. Very few humans survive, and those that do have faced some serious horror. But they have adapted. We as a species are good at that, and I wonder if they will eventually win back their world.
SC: Next up on your list is what I’m a bit more excited to talk about. If you could tell us a little about your upcoming science fiction novel ‘Black Horizon’?
GW: It’s a tale of survival and struggle, and I took inspiration from many places for this book. It has elements of post-apocalypse survival horror, hard SF, less-than-hard SF, and adventure. There are spaceships, mutants, laser weapons, asteroid colonies, ruins, AI’s, telepaths, transhumanism, moonbases, astronauts, robots, and good old fashioned home cooking.
In a nutshell it is about the last four astronauts of the North American Union, who wake up from suspended animation on the Moon after three hundred and fifty years, to find a vastly changed world from the one they left behind.
SC: Now I understand that ‘Black Horizon’ is the first novel in a trilogy. Without major spoilers can you share any of the long term plans for the series?
GW: Heh, right. Oh, you were serious? Ah. Well then.
It’s a story that will take us from Earth, centuries after a cataclysmic war nearly killed the planet, out to the asteroids and beyond. It will involve Artificial Intelligences, strange cultures, people both primitive and so advanced as to seem magical, and it will have conflict.
Telling you any more would ruin it.
SC: What kind of research have you had to do so far for ‘Black Horizon?
GW: Wow. All kinds. So far I have looked into ballistic properties of tungsten, plasma states of matter, asteroid orbits, long term effects of nuclear winters, thrust equations for rocketry, the current state of AI science, and a host of other stuff. Like orbital bombardment. Fun times.
Seriously, you can end up on some crazy watch lists as a writer. For Dead Inside I was researching all kinds of stuff about decomposition and viruses and pathogens and prion diseases.
SC: As the novels take place partially on Earth and partially in space can we expect any aliens to show up in the series?
GW: Well, I could tell you, but then I’d be lying.
SC: Who are your favorite characters in the series? What are your plans to make a world so far into the future relatable to modern society?
GW: So far I love a few characters, really like others, and hate one or two, but they still serve a purpose. So my favourite is Dr. Tara Riseman, a NAUSA astronaut. Yes, that’s spelled right. NAUSA. Not NASA. You’ll see.
Another one I love is Knight-Commander Gavin Hamilton of the Black Legion. He’s technically of North American background, but he comes off as very British. Interesting fellow.
Thirdly, there is Major Park Ludwig Choi, of the Commonwealth.
So that’s three people from different cultural backgrounds. The fun starts when these cultures interact.
SC: This is your second series and seems to be a second trilogy. Do you have a preference for long term stories or has your plotting just happened to lead to 2 sets of trilogies?
GW: It just sort of happened this way. It wasn’t intentional, but I do seem to have a lot of story to tell in this case. The Commonwealth Cycle is going to be longer than the zombie books. Black Horizon is half again as long as Dead Inside.
I’m also writing another one, a single book all by itself, called (for now) Discontinuity. It’s central theme is Cosmicism.
SC: How has your real life experiences factored into your writing?
Hardly at all. I’ve brought only a few tiny things from my life into the books I have written so far. There’s some mention of archery, for example, in Dead Inside. Black Horizon explores my interest in various concepts like AI and transhumanism, but I know very little about those things in real life.
Co-workers ask me if I am putting things from work into my books all the time. I respond that life is bad enough as it is, so why would we want to read about it as well? Books are escape for me. Fantasy. Somewhere that is not the real world.
SC: What are your thoughts on traditional publishing and self-publishing?
GW: I think they both have their merits. Whatever works for each author individually, is what is best for them.
SC: Do you have a certain routine when writing for getting yourself in the mood and mindset?
GW: Nope. I write well when travelling, though. For some reason air travel and I get along really well, so I have brought my laptop and notebooks on almost every plane I have been on in the last several years. I can write anywhere.
SC: Do you have any advice for other writers who are writing in or who want to write in the genre?
GW: Be adventurous. Read everything you can. Write when you can. Take time to appreciate the small things, and don’t sweat the reviews, good or bad. It’s all part of growing your skill set.
SC: If you could co-write a novel with any author: Who would it be and why?
GW: Sterling Lanier, or Andre Norton. Because they both knew how to weave a tale, and both of them loved the high-concept SF that I am trying to write in the Commonwealth Cycle.
SC: Do you have any other information for my readers who may be interested in finding out more about you or your writing?