Welcome back to CR! For the benefit of new readers, let’s start with an introduction: Who is Col Buchanan?
Thanks Stefan. A full author bio, including details of my Fantasy series, Farlander/The Heart of The World, can be found at my author site.
Think Irish rebel; a lover of trailblazers, truth-seekers and controversy.
Your next novel, Fierce Gods, will be published by Tor. It’s the fourth novel in your excellent Heart of the World series. How would you introduce the series to a potential reader? What can fans expect from the fourth book?
In the first book of the series, Farlander, the adventure starts with an ageing assassin and failed revolutionary, Ash, having to take on a young apprentice before he dies — just as he sets off on his most dangerous mission of all…
With book four, Fierce Gods, we reach the climax of the series, along with the climax of the ten-year-long siege that has been happening throughout the previous books. It’s where everything and everyone finally collide.
I can’t give much away, of course. But if you read the series you’ll know that very little ever happens the way you expect it to happen. I can say that a lot of characters die in the final book. As the fighting of the siege intensifies, it very much becomes a question of ‘who will survive?’.
I like to think of the series as Fantasy with a different slant. I don’t mean that the series has guns and skyships and that’s why it’s different (although it does) – I mean the way that it’s written. The books have a cinematic feel. Really what I write are adventure stories, focused on characters going through the most extraordinary events, with deeper themes woven throughout that point to our world of today. The series takes on the powerful and speaks for people caught up in the grand ambitions of the powerful. It takes on war. It takes on the ravaging of the planet. It takes on our age of deceit. It takes on the meaning of reality.
But it does so in what at first appears to be a traditional fantasy adventure setting. Only when you read it do you realise that the story is leading you in different directions than you expect.
For instance, there are Science Fiction elements that are revealed as the series develops. In book three, The Black Dream, we find out that one of the orbiting moons is inhabited by a technologically advanced race of people, some of whom have been secretly exiled to the world of our story.
What inspired you to write the novel and series? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?
The first book Farlander came from lots of different non-fantasy influences, but at heart, it was inspired by David Gemmell and Legend – which I consider one of the best fantasy books ever written. Legend was Fantasy with a difference. For its day it was gritty and realistic. It didn’t have dragons and dwarfs but something more innovative than that – real people fighting for their lives with all the odds stacked against them, in a world that seemed more historical than fantastical. And all of it written in a thrilling, pacey, cinematic style. I’ve often wondered why it was never made into a movie.
So really, the ongoing siege in my series is very much a homage to Gemmell and Legend. Writing Farlander/HOTW, I feel that I’ve been very much carrying on in his spirit.
You’re working on a new project, called The High Wild, which I’ve seen is connected to your fantasy series. However, the new project is sci-fi… What’s The High Wild about, and how does it tie in with your first series?
The High Wild is a divergence from my fantasy work. It’s a fugitive-on-the-run, Space SF series; first-person, present tense. It’s also a lot riskier than what I’ve written so far. More punky. More outlaw. Think The Stainless Steel Rat (minus the snobbery) for 21st Century grownups who also love Space and Space travel.
This new SF series is what I would write if I didn’t have to worry about things like money and career. Even though I do have to concern myself with those things (I’m trying to feed a family here) – well, I seem to be writing it anyway. And very much loving it too. The High Wild, which refers to open Space, is essentially a big bold leap of faith into the unknown.
Check out the project here, along with the first 3 chapters.
Yes, it’s SF. But my Fantasy can be read as SF too. What I mean is that my Fantasy series is like Legend crossed with Dune, rather than Lord of the Rings crossed with Dune. And in fact, the world of my Fantasy series itself exists within a solar system where there are many other inhabited worlds, all of them much more technologically advanced. But the fantasy world of the HOTW series is under a quarantine, so its people know little of what lies beyond the sky.
In The High Wild however, on the other planets, people know of this quarantined world where wooden ships sail the seas and siege battles are fought with swords and blackpowder. They watch reality shows of the fantasy world on 3V screens, with footage shot from hidden spy cameras.
So The High Wild SF story is happening at the same time, and in the same solar system, as the Heart of the World Fantasy series. I am a huge fan of culture shock stories and people crossing into entirely different worlds, so eventually I’d like to fully link the two with some interesting cross-overs…
When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?
Probably about the age of ten, when I wrote my first novel (all of eight pages long and illustrated) about my school being flooded and the kids rising up in mutiny, rowing through the watery corridors on upturned desks like grubby little pirates.
My teacher was appalled by the story. So was the headmaster. I knew then that’s what I wanted to do with my life.
What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?
Aurora, by one of my favourite authors Kim Stanley Robinson. Make Room! Make Room! (Soylent Green), by Harry Harrison. The Message of the Sphinx (non-fiction), by Graham Hancock & Robert Bauval. Saving Gary McKinnon (non-fiction), written by his remarkable mother, Janis Sharp.
What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?
Writing the High Wild and working on a Graphic Novel script about the end of the world (talented artists wanted!).
Mostly though, watching my little son grow older.
Col’s new Facebook page, The Naked Geek, where SF, Fantasy and all things geeky hang out together, can be found here. For more on Buchanan’s writing and novels, be sure to check out his website, and hollow him on Goodreads.