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Author Interview – Chris Ward June 8, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in Author Interviews.
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Author of the book The Tube Riders, Chris Ward has graciously agreed to let me interview him for this blog.

 1. Was there a catalyst or single event that you can point to that led you to your writing career?

I’ve been writing as long as I can remember so it’s difficult to think of a single catalyst or event that led to me wanting to be a writer.  I grew up in a house with a big, wild garden that was on the edge of a forest, so I was a pretty imaginative child.  There were few other houses about and none of my friends lived nearby, so I was left to play with my own mind.  I liked nothing better than wandering about in the forest and imaging seas of stinging nettles and ferns as alien invaders that needed to be hacked down.  There were always stories bouncing around in my head so I guess eventually I got bored of cutting stuff down and started to write down my adventures instead.

2. Do you have any writing rituals?

I have no real rituals or requirements, but to write well I need peace and quiet.  Preferably complete silence.  Writing needs a clear mind.  I like to write at night, the later the better, with the curtains closed, and in a small room where there is very little clutter, ideally just me and my computer.  And definitely no internet connection.  I’m strictly of the computer generation, though, and I find it pretty hard to write anything with pen and paper, especially something long.  I can touch-type, so on a computer I can write as quick as words enter my head, which I think helps the flow and readability of my stories.

3. If you had a chance to sit down with your favorite author who would it be? What would you say?

I like a wide variety of writers but I think my overall favorite is Iain Banks, a Scottish writer who writes slightly oddball mainstream novels as well as science fiction under the name of Iain M. Banks.  The first thing I would say would be to thank him for all the excellent novels of his that I read during university, just after I discovered him.  Then I’d ask him if he could stop infusing his later novels with so many politics and just write books like Walking on Glass, The Bridge and The Wasp Factory over and over and over again.

4. Who were your writing influences?

Growing up, I absolutely loved horror and fantasy.  I read Lord of the Rings at about age 8 (okay, I read parts one and two.  I’m still yet to read part three, no idea why…!) In my teens I was a member of a couple of those book clubs where you get an initial bunch of books free then have to buy one each month.  I read tons of stuff by people like David Eddings, Terry Brooks, and David Gemmill.  Probably the first author I used to seek out new releases from, though, was Richard Laymon, the king of cheesy horror.  Anyone who can have a plot where Jack the Ripper escapes to America and turns in to Buffalo Bill is pretty awesome as far as I’m concerned, and the first novels I wrote were influenced by his style.  However, when I entered university my love of horror and fantasy kind of died away and I started to read authors like Iain Banks, Brett Easton Ellis and Chuck Palaniuk.  I loved anything offbeat or controversial.  I used to actively seek out controversial novels, however these days, living in Japan, I tend to just read whatever is available and don’t have any special preference.  Of the eight novels I’ve written so far, none are in the same genre, so there are a lot of different influences in there.

5. I know you live in Japan. Why did you decide to live there? How does it impact your writing?

Japan is actually the second foreign country that I have lived in, having spent a year teaching in Italy before I moved here to Nagano in 2004.  I initially decided to leave the UK in 2003 out of sheer boredom – I worked in the internal accounts section of a bank, had barely enough money to survive each week and felt this huge frustration with the progress of my life.  I was writing a lot (I couldn’t afford to do anything else) but not selling anything.  I decided to get out.  I saved my money and my holiday leave, then spent a month studying TEFL in Barcelona, an experience which sealed it.  Dull, rainy Bristol couldn’t compare.  I was offered a job in Italy which I took, and after I completed my contract there I took a job in Japan partly because while in Italy I had a great life but was still always broke, and partly because I had always been fascinated by Japan.  My parents visited there a number of times (my father was in the merchant navy) and our house had loads of Japanese dolls and paintings scattered around.  As to how it influences my writing, in some ways it restricts it because I’m way busier than before.  I have a lot of hobbies and a lot more friends now.  It does make world-building a bit easier, though, when you’ve seen a bit more of the world we live in.  And another thing it has definitely helped me with is dialogue, as I meet so many people from so many different backgrounds now.  They all have their own accents, dialects and buzz words.  My dialogue always used to be pretty flat, but these days I consider it to be one of the best aspects of my writing.

6. For the readers out there that haven’t read your book, can you explain what The Tube Riders are and how you came up with the concept?

The Tube Riders is a dystopian fantasy/sci-fi set in 2075, in a kind of communist-style Britain.  Way back in 2002 I wrote a short story about a group of kids in a vaguely futuristic world who hung off the sides of trains for fun who got into trouble with a rival gang.  In 2007 I sold it to a small press magazine called Not One of Us.  Then, in 2009 I decided I wanted to write a big action sci-fi epic that read a bit like a book version of Indiana Jones.  I thought back through all the stories I’d written, realised I had a pretty unique concept in “tube riding”, something I had never seen done before, and decided to expand it into a full novel.  I started brainstorming, and before long the Huntsmen, Dreggo, the Governor and others started to appear.

7. Can you talk about any future works in progress and when they’ll be released?

I have three novels finished that are currently being edited and revised.  The first of these, The Man Who Built the World, is a stand-alone ghost/horror story and will be published (hopefully) by the end of June.  The other two I hope to have published by the end of the year.  One is a psychological horror/thriller, the other is, um, a comedy.

In addition I have lots of projects in the WIP phase, among them a children’s fantasy/sci-fi, two historical novels (one about Cornish wreckers and another about convicts sent to Australia), a drama, a dark comedy, and of course, part two of Tube Riders.  I once swore never to write a sequel to anything, but that was before I wrote a novel which is really only the set up for a wider story.  If Tube Riders begins to see some success, that one will probably take priority, although I’ve never been one to do what people want.

Thanks to Chris Ward for the interview!

Visit Chris at

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You can buy his book The Tube Riders at

AMAZON

Review – The Tube Riders May 8, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Sci-Fi.
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3 comments

Title:  The Tube Riders

Author:  Chris Ward

Genre: Sci-Fi

Publisher: Chris Ward

Publish Date: March 19th, 2012

Available at: Amazon 

Beneath the dark streets of London they played a dangerous game with trains. Now it is their only chance for survival…

Mega Britain in 2075 is a dangerous place. A man known only as the Governor rules the country with an iron hand, but within the towering perimeter walls of London Greater Urban Area anarchy spreads unchecked through the streets.

In the abandoned London Underground station of St. Cannerwells, a group of misfits calling themselves the Tube Riders seek to forget the chaos by playing a dangerous game with trains. Marta is their leader, a girl haunted by her brother’s disappearance. Of the others, Paul lives only to protect his little brother Owen, while Simon is trying to hold on to his relationship with Jess, daughter of a government official. Guarding them all is Switch, a man with a flickering eye and a faster knife, who cares only about preserving the legacy of the Tube Riders. Together, they are family.

Everything changes the day they are attacked by a rival gang. While escaping, they witness an event that could bring war down on Mega Britain. Suddenly they are fleeing for their lives, pursued not only by their rivals, but by the brutal Department of Civil Affairs, government killing machines known as Huntsmen, and finally by the inhuman Governor himself.

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

This book reads more like a YA novel as the Tube Riders are most like a gang of skateboarders. That doesn’t make this story any less fun or unique. It’s got a lot of action and the violence in the story seems to contradict my snapshot judgment of it being a YA novel.

Nonetheless, the characters in the book are all very young and their problems are very young. I don’t want that to steer you away from reading this book though. I really did enjoy it.

Marta is the nominal leader of the group of Tube Riders and she’s very well fleshed out. I was able to identify with her the most. She reacts in very human and believable ways to each situation. With each step of the way I was cheering her on.

Another of the Tube Riders I really liked was Switch. He had street smarts and cunning that made me admire him. He was loyal to his friends and deadly to his enemies. Switch was a true survivor in every sense of the word.

All of the Tube Riders were heroes in their own ways but those two were my favorites for those reasons. The villains were equally fleshed out which made the story all the more enjoyable.

Their harrowing escape from the powers that be takes them all over Mega Britain and they meet a myriad assortment of characters. From the sleepy countryside to the busy underground of Bristol, they keep on running from the strong-arm of the law and the inhuman strength of the Hunstmen.

The Huntsmen are scary cyborg creations that have inhuman strength and are unstoppable when they’re on the path of their prey. The Tube Riders will eventually learn how they come to be during the course of their adventures. The answer will hit closer to home then they’d ever dream of.

It had heart-stopping action and heart-wrenching moments. A very entertaining ride!