Matthew De AbaituaMatthew De Abaitua is the author of If Then (2015) and The Destructives (2016), both published by Angry Robot. His debut novel, The Red Men, was nominated for the Clarke Award when it was released in the UK in 2007, and is now being issued in the US in a new edition by Angry Robot. The three books form a loose trilogy which explore themes of artificial intelligence and human consciousness in some of the most exciting science fiction written in the past ten years. To mark the American release of his first novel, Matthew De Abaitua was kind enough to speak to Fantasy-Faction about his writing and his work.

Your first novel, The Red Men, is about to be released in the US by Angry Robot. It was originally released in the UK in 2007. How have your feelings about the novel changed since its first release?

I’m more positive about it now! My friend said publishing a novel is like dropping a feather off the Grand Canyon. Now when The Red Men was first published, nobody reviewed it, or looked at it, for a few months, until eventually a conflicted review appeared on Strange Horizons. And I just thought, oh I’ve just written this book and I’ve made a mistake. No one likes this and I’ve been silly. And then it was shortlisted for the Clarke Award which I thought, oh that’s a mistake. But since then I’ve had so many readers come and speak to me about it. Particularly a lot of readers who are working in areas of technology and the future. In terms of if they’re working in futurist projection. The novel seems to really chime with them. So I think I was a little bit ahead of my cultural moment with it.

And then, when I went back and did a nip and a tuck on the manuscript when it was republished by Gollancz in the UK in 2013, all I had to change really was the odd little cultural reference that was out of date. So in some ways I’m okay about the broad predictive aspect of it. I picked it up the other day to have a quick look at the new edition, and it still seems very pertinent.

The Red Men was nominated for the Clarke Award in 2008. What was that like?

It was a controversial year for the Clarke Awards, and so you had authors who were codified as being literary, Sarah Hall, Steven Hall, I don’t know what I was codified as, in the mix. It was felt as if genre authors had been excluded. So you had people like the agent John Jarrold going online and complaining about this. So all I was really aware of was this, like, stepping into a furious family argument, that I had no idea I was going to be kind of pulled into this! And I was under no misapprehension that I’d won. Cause I’d been able to follow the online fighting. And so I just went to the awards ceremony and got quite drunk. Without an award speech. So in retrospect I was really pleased about it, but at the time it was a really difficult experience to go through and I almost was pretty certain I wouldn’t write anything that got involved in that family argument again.

The first chapter of The Red Men has been adapted into a short film, Dr Easy by Shynola. How did that come about? Are there any plans to adapt the rest of the novel?

The Red Men (cover)There was a script originally written by the directors, Shynola. And then, they have got another scriptwriter now to do a new script, that’s just been delivered, although I haven’t seen it yet. And having got a script that means Warp and whoever else is still attached to it can go forward to try and raise the money for it.

It’s astonishing I think with this book throughout, I feel like when it first came out I was not connected to something, and then realising the rest of culture’s kind of caught up. I’ve seen episodes of Black Mirror that feel very, very close to what the book had in it. I’m not saying there’s been a direct line of influence, but they’re all drawing suddenly from this well. Because what wasn’t around when I wrote the novel, was social media, and the novel sort of anticipates it in some ways. The crafting of a persona, letting that out online, and also not having control of it.

The Red Men explores ideas about corporate misuse of personal data, as well as the ability of technology to alter consensus reality, which feel prescient given how the world is going today. How does that make you feel?

The Red Men was inspired by my experience in the first dot com boom. What I saw there was, we had this thing the Internet, which we were told had incredible potential to alter humanity, and then at its worst, it’s used to sell socks. Or dog food. And so there was already this established dynamic between rich idealism and this sort of capitalist practice that this technology was put to. The Red Men was kind of inspired by that.

And then, I was extrapolating deeper and deeper. Capitalism proceeds by bringing more and more things into the market. The traditional science fiction projection was, imagine if they started to sell air! But it was apparent to me well obviously we’ll start to literally sell parts of your memories, your sense of yourself. And that bargain was more substantiated by technology in a clear trajectory. I wouldn’t have anticipated somebody like Instagram successfully monetising the privacy of children, which they do at the moment. But yeah so much has been folded into it, not just our psyches but right across the social generation has sort of come into its matrices.

The corporation Monad in The Red Men features a character who acts as an occult consultant, and Hermes Spence, the head of the corporation, is a gnostic who believes that Cantor is a new god. Where did this idea come from?

It chimes a bit now with the relationship between tech companies and say TED Talks. Where every sort of technology has its advance guard of thought leaders. So there’s a sense in which any capitalist project has its avant-garde of cultural cheerleaders. At the time when I was writing it, I was really influenced by VALIS (1981) by Philip K. Dick. I’d spoken to various people in the area and some of their work did seem quite occult at times. Cause you’re kind of trying to predict the mass mind. It’s quite comic! But I did know a few people in that area whose work was not massively divorced from that. And of course it was the time in which, when it was originally written, when we had George Bush making policy that felt like enacting fundamentalist Christian principles, so you felt like there was a religious imperative behind power, as well. And Tony Blair also hangs over it. When I wrote Hermes Spence, I had this photograph of Blair that I used to just stare at for ages, where he was sort of smiling, but it had a kind of zealotry in the smile, that felt like the dark side of his idealism. So it was all of that cant really that went into it.

The Red Men forms a loose trilogy with If Then and The Destructives. What are the challenges of writing novels that connect up loosely as opposed to a conventional trilogy?

There were no challenges. It was all a little game that I added to, because each book was meant to be read on its own. The interconnective tissue is just like an extra really. I think the thing is, with novels, you don’t know entirely what you’re doing, until you start doing them. And so you just like you discover quite a lot from writing one, and by putting three together, you also discover further things that you don’t anticipate.

Because by the time you get to the end they do almost thematically link up more than contextually.

If Then (cover)Yeah. But you know that because, as a writer you know that your unconscious is not going anywhere. It’s made a selection of material, and it’s not going to really change, unless you make a conscious effort to sweep away, and make changes to your frame of references, you know really that you’re going to end up creating connections.

This is a different example, but Will Self who I used to work with, his novels have recurring characters, recurring motifs and ideas, yet each one is distinct in itself. But they make a sort of layer of connectivity. They all follow that particular line that he’s interested in. But I didn’t have to create an overarching plot across the three. Each one’s got a discrete ending within it. I think what was interesting was when I finished doing The Red Men, I added various different chapters, and one of them was about Alex Drown’s pregnancy. I was really interested in a character who’s pregnant and simulated during that point and I felt looking at the book that was the most interesting aspect of it. And so that’s why she comes back into it, because she was the character I was most intrigued by. And the choices that she’d made. And that was completely unexpected. You just have to, when you’re writing, leave so much space for the unexpected to happen.

Your novels portray a world where AIs, or Emergences as they like to think of themselves, have come into existence and in the process irreparably damaged human culture. Is artificial intelligence one of the major threats facing humanity today?

The Red Men is set before the Seizure, and in the novel the incursion of artificial intelligence feels like a bit of the future that’s gone back into the past, and there is a mechanism suggested for this somewhere in the book. It’s very much in advance of what happens in the Seizure. When I finished it I immediately had another idea for a novel which I didn’t write that followed directly on from it. Which I probably would have done if things had gone differently. It wasn’t the awards, it was the fan talk around it. I’m only worried about people, I’m not really worried about artificial intelligence. The novel’s about the ways people give up their agency to technology, the way in which they use technology to provide a series of alibis for what they want to do. I think I’m more concerned about agency, people having no control over their lives, which is a big part of If Then and The Destructives, but also is in The Red Men in terms of, Nelson spends a lot of time not being a conventional protagonist. He spends a lot of time trying to get up the courage to do something about the thing that’s facing him.

Your novels explore the idea of a slow apocalypse, what William Gibson calls the Jackpot in The Peripheral, and you call The Seizure. This feels like an apt description of the state of the world at the moment. Is this an idea we are likely to see more of in science fiction?

Yeah. I adapted Gibson’s famous saying to, “The apocalypse is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.” And I show my students pictures of Aleppo, and say you know, this is the end of the world. And the First World War was the end of the world, also, to a certain degree. And If Then was written in the backdrop of, for me, you know we were redundant and we had no money and it felt like that. And at the same time Greece was running out of money and it felt like the end of the economic order there. I think the financial crisis, which really does hang over If Then in the same way that maybe 9/11 hangs over The Red Men, the financial crisis was the end of the world that actually people managed… not managed to stop happening but to turn the end into a kind of zombie economy that’s been sort of crawling round on its hands and knees ever since. And forestall any reckoning for what had been going on. And we’ve sort of been living in the slow moaning decline since that point. So that’s what the slow apocalypse feels like. There was the financial crisis, and a lot of money was invented to stop the moment of crisis from being an imminent one, and then it became a slow process of attrition from there.

You mention Nelson from The Red Men not acting like a typical protagonist. James from If Then has had part of his brain removed as part of his role as the town bailiff, so the Process can act through him. Theodore Drown from The Destructives is emotionally cauterised by his weirdcore abuse. What are the challenges of writing these emotionally stunted characters?

The Destructives (cover)The challenge is that, like Doctor Who, my characters can’t pull guns, or commit acts of violence, unless the plot really calls for it. They tend not to be conventionally heroic. What is interesting about protagonists is the choice they have to make. And often the choice that’s presented to a protagonist is between a terrible option and an even worse one. And that’s how my novels are structured. And that’s quite conventional, in terms of dramatic structure.

What interests me is when you’re faced by all these forces that only want you to do the wrong thing, and your success is dependant on you continuing to do the wrong thing, can you muster moral action, without entirely destroying yourself? Or even, destroy yourself, but still muster the moral action. So all that really interests us, I think, in reading novels, what interests me is observing characters that go through these crises of decision making. They’re forced to go through this cause in our lives we often don’t choose or we ignore those moments. And that’s why we need fiction, to see what would happen if we did make those decisions.

Your work features complex science fictional concepts but also complex, well drawn characters. Which comes first, the science fiction idea or the character?

I think that my characters aren’t deep in the conventional sense, they don’t have a lot of backstory. Which is why I often knock out parts of their brain, it’s so that you’re not confronted with all this crap from their childhood. Because a character should only exist in terms of being an agent within the structure. You need to know enough about them to understand their choice. And that’s it, you know, the rest of it’s irrelevant.

The idea always comes first, and with those three novels as you’ve rightly identified, I think Nina Allan spots a similar thing, it’s like, they all have similarities in terms of they’re really as bare boned as protagonists as you can go. In a novel I think the less there is about the protagonist the more the reader can project into the choice which is what matters. Is James going to evict the child or not? That’s all it’s about, and the less there is of James, the more there is of the reader. It’s the secondary characters who need to be well drawn, because you’re seeing them through these points of view.

Like Ruth in If Then.

Yes. We use her point of view but she’s a much more interesting and fleshed out character. So to see them in isolation is not right because if James is too fleshed out, then Ruth… it doesn’t necessarily work for both of them. You need to have the balance within them. I’m really interested in these questions around point of view because it’s something that I think I get some resistance from readers when they switch between points of view or when things switch within books. And I understand their resistance because they’re invested in this and then I’ve moved it over here. And I don’t know whether I’m doing it wrong or if there’s different levels of expectation. But to me like the novel, to be complete, has to have different points of view in it.

In If Then in particular, it’s not just the character’s point of view that changes, the diction, the language, the form all change, once we go into the First World War. The language takes on all the language of that period, it doesn’t remain within a science fiction or fantasy language, it’s unstable in that way, it sort of shifts. And I think that’s probably what’s creating the discontinuity with some readers are into it and some readers aren’t.

A major theme in If Then is the destructive legacy of World War I. What does World War I tell us about the world today?

Well no one wanted the First World War. And everyone thought they could stop it, but then they couldn’t stop it. So it was the sense of something that was of humanity but not controlled by any part of humanity. In that no one wanted it and it happened anyway. At that point I was just observing algorithms starting to commission editorial, or appearing on the boards of hedge funds. So the sense of having nonhuman agency in our society which we’re familiar with now from algorithmic actors or bots or other things like that. It seemed like an analogy to the First World War in which you had this enormous, industrial agent momentum that was nonhuman but of us, and we couldn’t control it. So it seemed like a metaphorical similarity.

And then I thought it would be quite fun to do that Philip K. Dick thing in which you set up a reality and then you decay it. But to do anything with the First World War I felt like I utterly wanted to commit to the historical record and the historical recreation, which I was fastidious about, it would be fair to describe, to put it mildly! I remember sitting in pubs round here, I was able to draw the battlefield freehand for every day of the conflict over like thirty days, for my friends to show them the progression. Because I realised to write with a keen sense of place something like the battle of Suvla Bay like that where you know a yard was important, I couldn’t move my characters 20 yards unless I knew they could’ve moved 20 yards. And often they couldn’t. So the novel does slow, in that it forces you for probably about 70 pages to basically inhabit the conflict as it was inhabited. Which was just what I wanted to do, and I was absolutely convinced it was the right thing to do.

The Art of Camping (cover)I was very interested in what the soldiers did afterwards. And I’d done a lot of research into that not for this novel but for my prior work which is The Art of Camping (2011). And I got interested in this movement called the Kindred of the Kibbo Kift, which was founded by ex-soldiers. Who sort of fused with suffragettes and theosophists and other counter cultural thinkers at the time. The Kibbo Kift was an idealistic endeavour, it was an attempt to change civilisation using art and camping. And The Red Men had a similar sort of dynamic in it in which it was incredible idealism against total abject cynicism.

The Red Men is people going, can we change reality according to our whim and live in this kind of pleasure principle, or are we subordinated to the reality principle in which we have to give ourselves up to gravity and economic imperative. So I was really interested in what those group of people, how they attempted to change our society afterwards, even though we look at them and sort of laugh at them now, they were also kind of laughing at themselves at the same time.

What came out of the war was quite an outpouring of idealism. And other -isms of world import. It is quite an interesting period the interwar period, it feels almost like a numinal realm that a writer can play around with. There’s all this possibility and then it ends with the Second World War. Before you get to that point and it feels like, because there were so many crazy little pockets of idealism going on, it does feel like a little other world you can use in fiction.

Before it sort of got sucked back into…

…into the timeline as we now experience it, yeah.

In The Destructives, you describe the surface of the moon and the oceans of Europa in as much detail as the countryside of Lewes in If Then. Is rendering SF landscapes in space in as much detail as familiar landscapes difficult?

Yes, that was very much. I can’t write a book unless it’s got a place in it. The problem with The Destructives is that I hadn’t been to two of the places in it, Europa and the moon. So I just had to kind of use research to replicate that. The more I got into the moon, the more I felt like, the… Do you know the concept, the sublime in nature? Wordsworth and Coleridge and the rest of the romantic poets, when they looked out on the mountains, it’s a sense of nature, the feeling it gives you, a mountain, it’s almost like you’re apprehending something so large, so much larger than you it’s something close to death.

And so, I thought what I’ll do is I’ll map that emotion of the sublime onto the solar system. Because the solar system is far more redolent of death because there’s nothing that’s alive there. And the sky is completely black and everything is dead and destroyed and pulverised around you. And so I just kind of took that sublime, notion of the sublime, poetry of the sublime, and I first of all put it in the moon. And then I realised why I was attracted to Europa was the sense of like, all our culture is build out of looking up at the sun, looking up at this life giving force, and they would be looking up at the evil eye of Jupiter that the radiation would scorch them so they couldn’t look upwards, all their culture they’d have to go towards the core, that would be the life giving force. And that seemed like a fun sort of science fiction extrapolation to imagine culture that was inward and depth focused rather than aspiring up to a god, the sun. But I was concerned that, writing it, because I didn’t have these substrates, these real experiences of place that bits of the book would sort of feel untethered. So I ended up using bits of Hackney in the asylum malls, to make it feel more grounded.

The Destructives portrays a humanity with nowhere to go, as the Emergences are the ones moving out into space while people are stuck in a weird retrofuture, constantly recycling old ideas about what our future looked like when we thought we had agency. Is there something of this happening now with our current fixation on nostalgia culture?

You’re right, it’s obviously a society without agency. And The Destructives is as you said, deliberately the Emergences leave behind replicas of science fiction from the past in order to keep them all happy. And so it was really my response in a way to the science fiction genre. Which contains both relics of its past that are left around to keep people happy as well as continuing yearnings towards otherness and transcendental experience and experimentation at the same time. And I felt bad when for the first time allowed myself to write in a genre way, to take pleasure in that, and I got really battered for it by the critics. I wanted to take the licence that some of the science fiction writers had done in writing really quickly and just sort of having genre pleasures in it, cause I do read Marvel comics as well.

It’s a complicated answer, because in the 20th century we mapped cultural progression and social progression together, and actually, down to the point of like rock and roll becoming dance music, rave becoming jungle music becoming glitch music or whatever, this produced a kind of narrative that suggested progressive, that the culture was progressive, in this liberal fantasy of progressiveness, that we mapped onto cultural forms. But what the Internet allows us to see is that the culture is not progressive. And that’s why in The Destructives their culture is looped. So it’s just the idea of things looping around that.

Satin Island (cover)I really was made aware of that when I was reading Tom McCarthy’s novel, Remainder (2005), but also Satin Island (2015), they’re both structured the same in which it’s very resistant obviously to conventional character development. Motifs just loop around and around. And so having seen this aesthetic demonstration of looping, and also seeing my nephew going, “I’m going to Glastonbury to see The Prodigy!” ten years after I saw them. So I was aware that in cultural time there was this incredible slowing, this dilation in which you felt like X Factor was number one for fifteen years. Whereas previous indices by which we charted our own cultural progression, which had been pop music, once that stalled, we were confined to like iterations of the iPhone as our way of marking time. It was apparent that we’d entered a period in which we couldn’t say with any certainty there was any progress.

And you know, the fact that we’ve just been, we’re fighting a culture war that many people of my generation thought we won in the early 90s. Albeit maybe it hadn’t been the victory we’d fooled ourselves into believing it was. I’m prepared to accept that. But it was surprising to suddenly see the return of the forces of reaction at that point, as if we had looped, as if we were stuck in this loop between progressive and reactionary forces over and over again. So yeah that seemed a more plausible future.

Which again echoes that looping or overlaying of history that you have in If Then.

Yeah, so both of those novels really don’t have a myth of progress. I don’t want to disparage my genre, but there can be a kind of ossified, fantasy of progress that is sort of hanging around in part of the genre furniture, that I don’t think is attentive to what is actually going on. I think if my novels are anything they are attentive to what’s going on. I don’t really have any escapism…. I think part of the problem of writing a space opera like that is everything would have to be different. Where’s the point of identification? Unless you somehow pretended that humans remained unchanged by being able to go across light years. People have been changed profoundly enough by just having Facebook. I mean the thing I’m writing at the moment has characters that have sort of tinkering with their genome. So that they’re much more, they’re predictivores, they’re much better at predicting things. And that is enough to extrapolate from, because otherwise you’re just not dealing enough with a sense of identifiable human self.

Your novels mix detailed and realistic speculation about the real world with dreamlike imagery, like the moving screens in The Red Men or the corporate bloodrooms in The Destructives. What is it about the combination you find compelling?

I think that’s absolutely fundamental to science fiction. Jonathan Lethem, in his essay “The Squandered Promise of Science Fiction” (1998), makes this point, that science fiction is dream fiction and think fiction. So it is cognition and it’s estrangement, it’s cognitive estrangement at the same time. And when I wrote The Red Men, I remember standing on the road we were standing earlier, and I’d written bits of it, and I thought right there’s two ways this book could go. I could stay within the bounds of the setup I’ve already established, and play around in that, and that would be safer, or I can go down a rabbit hole that I had in mind. And I thought, I can go down the rabbit hole, and I would be going into an area which I probably myself won’t be able to really tell the difference between the real world and the magical one, the dream one. And I thought, okay, that’s the way I’m going to go!

And you know it’s just very odd, lots of odd stuff happens. Alan Moore warned me about this. And I was coming out of having interviewed him a lot, he’s mentioned in the acknowledgements, and he’d gone through this magical awakening where he just felt like, when he was writing From Hell (1999), books just seem to fall open with the right information, he got this great sort of connective serendipity going on. Which I kind of satirise in The Red Men as The Great Connector, it’s the sensibility that Raymond suffers from, where everything connects to each other. There’s a word for that…


Dancers at the End of Time (cover)That’s right, yeah. But I sort of embraced that causes the animating spirit of the novel which was Raymond, that was part of his world view. And so I thought I’ll be true to this, I’ll pursue it. And actually really it’s the reason why I wrote the whole novel originally was the attempt to bring in more of the realm of dream and fantasy into some kind of believable framework. So the book I was really inspired by was Michael Moorcock’s Dancers at the End of Time (1972 – 1976), in which the characters can do anything they want. And I spent years trying to figure out, could I do that while still maintaining a contemporary frame. And so it was mid 90s and I came across The Physics Of Immortality [by Frank J. Tipler, 1994], and I thought, okay, the Internet will eventually become a realm by which might be possible. Then I saw The Matrix (1999) and thought, oh shit. And the problem with The Matrix is like, the problem with any dream world story, is what do you do with the real characters when they’re stuck within the dream world? How do you make the dream world happen? And you always have that bullshit where if you die in the dream world you die in the real world right?

It’s the only way to give it any kind of stakes.

That’s right. And so it took me years to figure this out, so eventually I thought well I won’t, I’ll keep all the things that matter in the real world, and the virtual world will be more like an office. So the actual plan from the outset was to try and find rational alibis for large swathes of unconscious. And I think that’s called science fiction. If you look at something like Borne (2017) by [Jeff] VanderMeer, he’s like yeah, giant flying bear, and you recognise that the unconscious has its place. Science fiction is a yearning for a transcendentalism that we lose with the death of God. And we can find some of that transcendentalism in our unconscious and in our dream realms, and that promise of transfiguration. So all the novels have to have that in it, as one of the animating principles, equal and in proportion to any scientific extrapolation that’s within it.

What has your experience been working with Angry Robot?

Good, it’s good. They’re very attentive, they send me a birthday card. It’s very nice. And you know, my relationship with them started when Marc [Gascoigne] sent me a message on Twitter saying, “Oh, I like The Red Men.” And at the time I sent a message to my agent saying maybe these would be the people for If Then. You know, when I finish it. So all of that personal touch and attention to detail was the beginning of our relationship, and so it carries on now. And being published in America at the same time is so brilliant for a science fiction writer. Because I think there are a few writers who don’t have that, who maybe have more of a domestic audience than I do, but the ability to be out in America at the same time, to be reviewed at the same time just creates more of a debate, more of a response to your work.

And I enjoy my working with the editor there, that was kind of fun. And I enjoy working with Penny [Reeves] very much, the PR and marketing division, so that’s all been quite fun. I mean with If Then I worked quite closely with [editor] Phil Jordan. He said, “Your novel really fucked me up, and now I want to help you fuck me up even more.” So, I think what I often have to do is go back and rewrite new sections at the beginning, to let people in more slowly, more gradually. And I added various different bits and bobs to chapters to make it even more immersive and to not make it abrupt transitions between our world and the novel’s. It’s funny actually when New Scientist asked me to write a story they asked me exactly the same thing. “Can you fuck us up, but with a seasonal twist?” Seems like I’m kind of the go to guy for that.

What’s next for Matthew De Abaitua?

Well immediately I’m going to publish a memoir in spring 2018 called Self and I, which is about the six months I spent working with Will Self, and that’s really about attempting to live in the realm of the imagination, totally. Really to live in his imagination as another person. And how odd that is, and his imagination mediated through Ballard. Trying to live in that. But really just, as a young person thinking that the way a writer will live will be entirely in the world of your own invention. And consequences of that. And that what that’s about. It’s not a biography or anything like that, it’s two writers who go to a cottage by mistake and our just massively out to lunch really.

Withnail and I but with you and Will Self!

Self and I (cover)That’s right. That’s why it’s called Self and I. The parallels are many and deliberate. And it’s kind of funny but it’s also just that, how crazy I was at that junction. Trying to pretend to be a writer before you’re capable of really writing. And so all that stuff sort of builds up, it’s messy. So that’s done and that’ll be out March. And then I’m writing a novel that I haven’t shown to anyone, apart from my agent, which tends to be how I work. I was just reading the Stephen King book On Writing (1999) and he says, when you write, the first draft you write with the door shut, later on you sort of open the door to the world. The door’s shut at the moment I’m going to say. But it’s a different science fiction novel than the other three. I resisted the temptation to connect them together, though I could have done. Because the tropes are different, instead of being artificial intelligence and consciousness, it’s around geo-engineering and some biological tweaking. And that’s about all you should really say about works in progress.

We would like to thank Matthew De Abaitua again for taking the time to speak with us. The Red Men is out now! You can learn more about it and his other works on his website or you can follow him on Twitter @MDeAbaitua.


By Jonathan Thornton

Jonathan Thornton is from Scotland but grew up in Kenya, and now lives in Liverpool. He has a lifelong love of Fantasy and Science Fiction, kicked off by reading The Lord Of The Rings and Dune at an impressionable age. Nowadays his favourite writers are Michael Moorcock, John Crowley, Gene Wolfe, Patricia McKillip and Ursula Le Guin. He has a day job working with mosquitoes. He blogs about books at and is on Twitter at @JonathanThornt2, and one day wants to finish writing his own stories.

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