Colin Harvey has some great novels out in a variety of genres, and has turned his hand to editing as well. He stopped in to talk about his latest anthology project. . .
1. What was the inception of the project? What were your first steps in building that idea into a viable book?
Unusually for an anthology, a lot of momentum for the inception was down to authors. After I published my previous anthology Future Bristol, quite a number of writers would sidle up to me at conventions and mutter out of the corners of their mouth, “I wish I’d known you were doing Future Bristol – when are you going to do another book like it?”
To be honest though, I didn’t want to edit Future Bristol II. But I did want to get back into the editor’s chair, and 1gradually began to think about what theme I could work with. While it may not be as small or geographically discrete as the city of Bristol, the South West of England –Wessex, to use Hardy’s fictionalized region—does have a distinct identity separate from the rest of England; rural, sparsely populated, heavily mythologized through stories such as The Hound of the Baskervilles, Keith Robert’s Pavane, Christopher Priest’s A Dream of Wessex. It seemed to me that just as we celebrated the city of Bristol, we should also profile writers from the wider region through local settings and characters.
And they responded magnificently, with SF, fantasy and horror: the SF stories included Gareth L Powell giving us an alien invasion, John Hawkes-Reed on a repressive future government whose environmental zeal has gotten out of hand, and Chris Lake on H G Wells (perhaps?) reincarnated. Fantasy stories include an Arthurian fantasy, Joanne Hall on a most unusual dragon, while Adam Colston and Guy Haley have written great contemporary pieces.
2. What kind of research and/or world-building did you do before beginning?
Well, I didn’t do any, but I know that Jo Hall and Eugene Byrne both read local histories, and Roz Clarke trawled all around Dorset, visiting isolated rural museums.
3. What’s your first-draft process? outline, edit as you go, speed-writing?
For my novelette ‘Spindizzy’ (a tribute to the late, great James Blish) I outlined very loosely then wrote about 1500 words a day for 6 days – so I count that as writing at speed; but I know writers who write routinely at twice that speed!
4. How do you start revisions?
When I’ve finished the first draft I let it cool for a day or so then go through it looking for both micro-issues and macro ones. When I’ve done that, I then generally send it into a crit group of which I’m a member for them to pick it apart.
5. If you could choose a few descriptors that would go in a blurb on the front cover of your book, what would they be?
I’ve been describing the stories as ‘Speculative Fiction from Hardy Country,’ which seems to sum them and the book they are in pretty well.
6. What cool thing would you put in the DVD extra version that didn’t get into the published work? Research or created detail you had to cut or couldn’t use?
The publisher and I did put extra features after two of the stories for the e-book version; in one case Liz Williams writes a history of the Somerset Levels, while Roz Clarke writes about her research for ‘Last Flight to West Bay.’
7. Where should readers go to find out more about your work?
I have a website at http://www.colin-harvey and anyone who’s interested can also check out more about Dark Spires at the Wizard’s Tower Press website
8. Care to share a link (aside from your own work) to something amazing you think everyone should see or know about?
My choice would be a man who is still writing into his 90s. Frederik Pohl made his first appearance in print 74 years ago, and is still working – his new novel All the Lives He Led is due out in April. You can read more about it here. can only hope that I’ll still be writing in my 90s – in the 2050s.
Thanks very much for inviting me to contribute.