Guy Haley is a long time science fiction journalist and writer. He has been deputy editor of SFX magazine, and editor of Death Ray and Games Workshop’s gaming magazine White Dwarf. He is the author of Reality 36, Omega Point, Champion of Mars, Baneblade and several more upcoming novels.
You can find hundreds of reviews, interviews, opinion pieces, free pieces of fiction and more on Guy’s blog.
Guy was kind enough to answer a few questions about his upcoming novel, Crash, and much more!
Guy Haley: Hiya, sure! Thanks for having me. I’m Guy Haley (not sure if I need to say my own name or not here!). I’m from Yorkshire in Northern England, although I’ve lived near Bath for many years now. Yes, I have always wanted to be a writer, since I was 17, actually. (Um, I thought it sounded like a bit of a lark, to be honest, sitting at home, no suit, glass of whisky, roaring log fire. All that). I told my teacher this in a careers session and she promptly advised me to choose something else! I don’t want to give the impression that she was one of these teachers that go around crushing dreams, I got on with her very well, I’m sure she just thought that it wasn’t very likely. And it’s not really, is it? A tough gig to crack. Still, here I am.
Although time will tell if I can make a living solely out of writing novels, I have been writing professionally for 16 years as a journalist; nothing too onerous, no war zones or political digging. I figured that newspaper journalism was too tough to be successful in, stuffed as it is with highly driven, well-funded, privately educated Oxbridge graduates, and a long career in local papers wasn’t attractive at all. I did some work experience at a couple and was taken aback firstly by how bitter the staff were, and secondly by how low the pay was. I went into consumer magazines instead, where the pay was slightly better, but the fun quotient was a great deal higher. I worked on SFX, then edited Games Workshop’s White Dwarf, then Death Ray – all SF magazines in one way or another. I wrote fiction and off for years, but started to take it seriously from about 2000. I had a comic published in 2003, a story printed in 2007 by the ezine Hub, and my first book, Reality 36, accepted by Angry Robot two years later. I’ve written six books since, and a bunch of shorts.
KC: Your rather timely new novel, Crash, features The Market, an all seeing, all knowing entity that rules all, and the promise of freedom in space for a small group of people. Ok, I’m hooked! Tell me more!!
GH: It’s not so much about the Market, which is the semi-autonomous global stock exchange of the future in the book. I think that was seized on quite early for publicity, at a time when even I wasn’t sure what the book was about. Rather, the backdrop of Crash concerns the entrenchment of the current class of global super-rich, for whom the Market is the primary tool of enrichment, and their transformation into a de facto plutocracy. But I suppose thematically it’s really “about” hierarchies in human societies, and persistence – of families, of wealth, of cultures, of power, and of, even, the species. The story, however, is about a colony effort that goes horribly wrong for reasons that are slowly revealed in the novel. I love stories about against-the-odds human survival on far flung worlds, about broken generation ships, all that stuff. The slow plod to the stars just seems more likely than the zipping about at warp-speed of Star Trek and so on, while still acknowledging our drive as colonizers and explorers., and that’s what we do as a species – we’re always off over the next hill. I honestly believe we’re having a bit of a breather right now. That drive to head on sent our ancestors out from Africa into a wide and wild world with primitive, if ingenious, tech. It’ll have us on our way off Earth soon enough, with tools that will probably look very primitive to our own descendants. It’s the will and the need to do it that’s important. Whether you’ve a coracle or an ocean liner to cross the sea isn’t really relevant.
KC: Did you do any particular research for the book?
GH: Yeah, I did. I read a few books on economics. As I follow the news quite closely, there’s a lot of ideas in there that I picked up from my day-to-day reading. I did some research on astronomy, biology and physics for the planet Nychthemeron, which the colony finds itself on. It’s tidally locked to its star; one half in darkness, the other always in light, so I had to read up on how that would work and how life would evolve and survive there. There’s a lot of tropes that are absolutely core to SF in the book – weird alien ecosystems, interstellar travel, future societies, and monsters. Yeah, monsters!
GH: What I always say when asked this question is that SF allows you to strip away the concerns of our own times and reveal the essence of an issue, then examine it through a different set of lenses. I think SF at its best transcends petty concerns; it can be about the really big questions. Unfortunately, at its worst it can be dreck.
KC: Any particular influences on your writing (authors, novels, other?)
GH: You know, I’ve been steeped in SF and fantasy since I was a tiny kid. I read The Hobbit when I was seven, and my mum’s Arthur C Clarke books not long afterwards. I’ve never looked back. The influences are too many to list. On saying that, I have been lucky enough to interview or associate with many of the brightest stars in the SF authorial firmament, and speak with lots of publishers and agents about how writing works as a business. That was all both inspiring and useful practically.
KC: You’ve got a few more books coming up this year from Games Workshop. Will you tell us more about those titles?
GH: Altogether I have four books out this year, including Crash, which is a figure I feel kind of proud of. Baneblade was out in May, an Imperial Guard story about a big tank. Then there’s Skarsnik, the biography of the infamous Night Goblin King, and lastly The Death of Integrity, a Space Marine story set on a space hulk. If you’re into the Games Workshop universes, that will all make sense, if not, well, I don’t have the time to explain it all here! I have a half-dozen or so short stories out with GW as well.
GH: I have a big dog, I walk him a lot – actually, I bought him so I’d have to get an hour’s exercise every day. Without him I’d rarely leave my office. I have a small son, and I do most of the childcare as my wife is a lawyer, so the truth is I don’t have much downtime. I love games, I play Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000 or GW’s Middle-earth strategy game once a week, I really love painting models for those games too. I play some computer games (Master of Orion II, really old now, is still my favourite). I read a lot – usually for work, for research or for reviews. Indeed, I often write for fun too. I like writing. My leisure and work tend to overlap. I’m lucky and cursed equally for it.
KC: What’s next for you in 2013 and beyond?
GH: I’m waiting to hear back on an original fantasy project I’ve pitched, I’m close to finishing a YA SF novel that I’ve had some interest in already, I’m trying to find homes for a couple of SF shorts, and I’m starting my fourth book for Games Workshop next week. At the same time, I’m editing a 570-page factual guide to SF, and I’m working with a few games companies doing editing work and world creation, and more stories. In between all that I’m trying to write further original shorts, and finish off a new Richards & Klein novella that I may self-publish, you know, to dip my pools in that particular pond. Man, that sounds like loads! But, I’ve found with writing that if you want to survive financially, you have to do a lot of it.