James Smythe was born in London and now lives in West Sussex. Since receiving a PhD from Cardiff University, he has worked as both a Creative Writing teacher and as a writer/narrative designer of video games.
His debut novel, Hereditation, was published as part of Parthian’s Bright Young Things series in 2009. His next book, The Testimony, a novel about the voice of God, terrorism and the apocalypse, was published in April 2012 by HarperCollins (Blue Door). In December 2012, HarperCollins (Voyager) published The Explorer, a science fiction novel in the vein of 2001 and Solaris.
In April 2013, HarperCollins (Blue Door) will publish The Machine.
He currently writes a continuing series of articles for The Guardian called Rereading Stephen King. He can be found on twitter @jpsmythe and Facebook.
He is represented by Sam Copeland at Rogers, Coleridge & White.
Tim Ward: First off, I have to ask, at any point from the conception of The Explorer to its release did you ever laugh out loud at how hard it might be for reviewers or interviewers to talk to you about the story without spoiling anything? If not, feel free to do so now.
James Smythe: Ha! I didn’t, I must admit. It never really occurred to me until I was finished about the difficulty talking about certain… developments in the novel. But the pacing was quite careful: even if you have the first reveal ruined, as it were – the narrative-driving one – hopefully the second, more emotionally-resonant reveal will still come as a shock. A few people have mentioned what happens at a certain point in the book, and that’s fine. It’s tough; and maybe they don’t see it as spoilers? Having said that, some people have said that the reveal that Cormac’s crew are all dead is a spoiler, but that happens in the first line of the book, so I think that one is fine.
And you’re right: it is really hard to talk about the book without spoiling anything.
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