Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Gareth L. Powell?
I’m an author from Bristol, in the South West of the UK. I’m 50 years old and have two teenage kids. I’ve won the British Science Fiction Association Award for Best Novel twice and been shortlisted for the Locus and Seiun Awards.
Your novel The Recollection celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, and will be re-issued by Solaris. For those who didn’t catch it the first time, how would you introduce it to a potential reader?
The Recollection was my first full-length novel (a shorter novel, Silversands, appeared the year before). It follows the adventures of Ed Rico, a failed artist and London taxi driver as he travels into the future to find his missing brother, and the struggles of Katherine Abdulov, a starship pilot, as she races to a distant planet in order to regain the trust of her powerful family.
What inspired you to write the novel?
I wanted to explore the notion of a cosmos where portals offered subjectively instantaneous travel, but also obeyed the speed of light. Therefore, if you stepped through one to Alpha Centauri and then returned, your journey would seem to you to have taken mere moments, but eight years would have passed on Earth. So, I took a protagonist from the modern day and sent them on a journey through space and time.
How do you think your experience writing The Recollection influence how you approached your novels and novellas afterwards?
The Recollection was the book in which I felt I found my voice and format. Every novel I’ve since written has been likewise organised into a prologue and two parts, and contains something of the playfulness of that book.
How were you introduced to genre fiction?
I grew up in the 1970s when we had Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and ET. So, it’s no surprise I gravitated to the SF section of my local library, where I found Heinlein, Niven, and Dick.
Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?
I don’t write every day, as real life has a habit of disrupting even the best laid plans. But I write when I can, and I aim for around 1,000 words a day – although I’m happy with 500, as long as they’re good.
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?
I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t writing SF&F stories. At the age of eight or nine, I filled several spiral-topped reporter’s notebooks with a long, rambling space opera that owed a lot to Star Wars and Blakes Seven.
What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?
The SF genre today is more diverse and inventive than ever before. There’s been a huge resurgence in space opera over the past few years, and I think I’m right in the middle of that.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline, and what are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently working on two new novels for Titan, the first of which should be out in February 2022.
What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?
The pandemic really hammered my ability to read, but it’s slowly coming back. At the moment, I’m just starting an early copy of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Shards of Earth.
If you could recommend only one novel or book to someone, what would it be?
I don’t think I could ever recommend one book. The power of fiction is its endless rich variety, and genres like SF are in constant discussion with themselves.
What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?
Although I’m not religious, I once spent a week in a monastery in France.
What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?
I’m hoping it becomes safe enough for me to indulge in simple, much-missed pleasures, such as meeting friends for a pint, and writing in coffee shops. I also plan to treat myself to a meal in the best Indian restaurant I can find.
Gareth L. Powell’s The Recollection is due to published by Solaris Books in North America and in the UK, on April 27th. Powell’s two novels that won the BSFA Best Novel Award are Ack-Ack Macaque and Embers of War.