Alan Campbell 2012
Glenn: Could you tell your Swedish readers a little about yourself?
Alan: I grew up in Falkirk, Scotland, and now live near Edinburgh, which is where I studied Computer Science. After graduating, I spent about ten years developing video games.
Glenn: What made you start writing?
Alan: The Gormenghast novels. Those books were unlike any other fantasies I'd read before. Peake was a master at using language to convey a sense of place (which seems to me to be an essential requirement for fantasy, when your world doesn't exist) and I loved the playfulness and humour in them.
Glenn: Have you stopped working with programming completely, or do you still have any projects going?
Alan: Sometimes I dabble with coding, just for the fun of it. I have a few small projects which I might finish one day.
Glenn: Do you feel that your experiences as a programmer are of any help when you write?
Alan: People often ask me this, and, to be honest, I'm not sure. Stories and software applications need to be structured and built up from smaller components, so I suppose it's fair to say that experience in one area helps in the other.
Glenn: Your last series, Deepgate Codex, had air ships and a few other steam punkish props, and the new Gravedigger series even more so. Have you read a lot of stempunk?
Alan: Not really, no. I read Moorcock's “Warlord of the Air” when I was a teenager, but that was probably it until very recently. I think I've arrived in the steampunk trenches by an alternative route. I've always been fascinated by science, and by the history of science – particularly the last three centuries. In the last few years I became interested in Nikola Tesla. I read his biography and pored over his patents. Eventually I began to learn electronics, joined some forums and Youtube groups, and built a few of Tesla's simplest devices. So I suppose my writing really reflects my interest in the science of this period, rather than any interest in other steampunk literature.
Glenn: You make a Fantasy/SF-mix with your steampunk. Is it intentionally that it's hard to pinpoint your books in a specific genre?
Alan: No, it isn't intentional. I've never thought about it. I just write about whatever is going on in my head and leave it up to others to categorise it.
Glenn: All the Unmer objects are fantastic. Did you have any specific source when you invented them, or did you dream them up on your own?
Alan: There's no specific source. Anything was possible with the Unmer, so I had a lot of fun imagining the sort of things they might create.
Glenn: Maskelyne's philosophic musings, sounds in part very much like new physics. Did you do research in this field for the books?
Alan: Technically, it wasn't so much research as just reading for pure enjoyment. Quantum physics interests me and I do read a fair bit on the subject, from a layman's point of view. Maskelyne's musings are essentially world-building. I'm trying to convince the reader that the universe in “Sea of Ghosts” is possible, and suggest how these Unmer artefacts could exist. I used known science, particularly quantum physics, as a starting place from which to wander, because it gives a recognisable foundation, which I hope lends a degree of credibility. But because this is a fantasy world, it was necessary to go beyond what we know or can prove.
Glenn: Do we get to know more about the Drowned in the coming books?
Alan: Yes. The Drowned have a part to play.
Glenn: Have you planned how long the series is going to be?
Alan: Three books.
Glenn: Is the writing of part two going along fine?
Alan: It's not been easy, I have to admit. But I am getting there, slowly.
Glenn: Any other projects you'd like to tell us about?
Alan: I don't have anything else in the works right now. Well, nothing concrete. However, my novella “Damnation for Beginners” has just been released. This is another story set in the Deepgate world.
Glenn: Thank you very much for your time.
Alan: Thank you for asking me.