Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Peter Vialls - Interview and Release of Impcatcher

My good friend Peter will introduce his latest release and his Sorrel novels. Thanks for stopping by, Peter. First off, tell us about your newest release – story line, genre, and a character or two that the reader should be on the lookout for.

I'm just about to release Impcatcher – an urban fantasy. Magic relies on the summoning and binding of imps and elementals – when sorcerers get things wrong, small, giggling psychopathic creatures can make trouble. Tal Djandiss, the impcatcher of the title, has the uneviable job of dealing with the escapees and troublemakers in his home town, Freebridge. Of course, as the novel begins, he discovers that something far more lethal is on the loose. My favourite character in the novel isn't a person at all – Puddle is a powerful and malevolent water elemental, imprisoned but still dangerous. Puddle isn't the elemental's real name – it prefers to call itself “Slaughterer of the Dry” or “Great Lord of Water”, but Tal calls it Puddle. Which probably indicates, rightly, that Impcatcher has a degree of humour even when it is at its most serious.

What can we read by you at the moment?

My first set of books are the fantasy trilogy Sorrel in Scarlet, Sorrel Snowbound and Sorrel in Silver. My titular pilot flew triplanes in the war against the dragonlords who rule her world – which the humans lost. Sorrel kept fighting – at the beginning of Sorrel in Scarlet, she gets blown out of the sky by Wrack, one of the dragonlords, and her běte noire. Both end up crashing in the Chasm, a gigantic rift in the world created by an earlier war between elves and serpent people (you'll have gathered that the history of Sorrel's world is complex!). The first book focuses on her struggle to survive despite the nightmarish beings occupying the Chasm – and on her continuing conflict with Wrack. As you'll have worked out, my novels aren't set in “typical” fantasy worlds – Sorrel in Scarlet is best described as a steampunk lost world novel with dragons.

You're self-published?

I keep missing a traditional publishing deal by the skin of my teeth. The acquisitions editor of a major UK publisher liked Sorrel in Scarlet, but his board turned it down at the last minute. And Impcatcher was picked up by another UK publisher, but the publishing house got bought out by a new owner who then turned it down again.

What’s next on your to-do-list as far as your writing career?

I'm already working on Street Demons, the sequel to Impcatcher, and I'm also thinking about a couple of Sorrel short stories.

What are the most significant malign influences on you and your writing?

Too many to list them all, but (roughly by my age when they were important): Thunderbirds – when I was very small, this was the epitome of action and adventure, and taught me about speed and pacing. Andre Norton – the grand dame of SF, who confirmed that loners and outsiders could be heroes. Dungeons & Dragons – I started rolegaming when I was 14, when D&D was only a couple of years old, and it taught me that I could tell stories. And Doctor Who – which proved that strange, quirky characters were interesting. Are any of those malign? D&D, definitely. I also learned from D&D that all rolegamers are twisted, evil monsters who worship Satan and eat babies. Got me bang to rights, guv. ;-)

Does that make you a geek, or have you grown out of D&D?

I created my rolegaming world, Mhorann, in about 1980 – it's still going strong, and still developing, 35 years later, and I'm still running regular game scenarios in Mhorann. I enjoy world building and creating stories. I'll add that none of my fiction is set in Mhorann – rolegaming scenarios usually don't make good books. If that makes me a geek, I don't care – D&D isn't something you need to grow out of. It grows and develops. I know a good number of people my age and older who still play, and others older than me who have only just started rolegaming.

I've heard a strange whisper that you've actually written for Doctor Who – or is it just a vicious rumour?

   It's all true. Doctor Who – the TV series – vanished in 1989. My drama society were looking for something “different” and I suggested, in jest, that a Doctor Who stageplay could be good. I should have known better. The rest of the club committee thought it was a great idea, and I was persuaded to write the script (my arm did eventually heal). We wrote to the BBC, who gave us permission to put on the play, and so we presented “The Empress of Othernow” to great praise and full houses in 1993. We had real cyberman costumes, laser blasters, Roman centurions, and even a TARDIS that materialised as if by magic in front of the audience, courtesy of an effects trick that dated back to Victorian times (a gauze, for those who understand such things).

   Ten years later, the club wanted to do a sequel to Empress, so I wrote Shattertime, which was even more ambitious and involved Sea Devils – we wrote to the BBC for permission, and after a long delay they wrote back turning us down flat. A year later they reported that Doctor Who was returning – I still reckon Russell Davies didn't want us competing with him!

You've not said much about you in real life.

I don't admit I exist in real life – anyone meeting me for real is clearly suffering from a severely deranged imagination and needs professional help. Any rumours that I'm a solicitor (attorney to the Americans) are denied, and I have an alibi.

Slightly more seriously, I suspect I've already said enough to indicate that I'm over fifty; I'm happily married and I've two adult children. I didn't eat either of them (or any others) when they were babies, which I presume means I lose my “archetypal D&Der” label. I'd add that both my children are keen rolegamers. It's all my fault!

Aurora's disclaimer: The scripting expert, Peter, invented the questions as well as his answers. I highly recommend his Sorrel novels.


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