Posted by Literary Titan
Coffin Dodgers takes place on a pre-historic world where thrill seeking competitors fight to be the last man standing. What was the inspiration for the Survivathon the characters must survive?
The story as a whole sprung from a nightmare I had where I was trapped amongst rapids with a bunch of other people, and we were being stalked by predatory dinosaurs – a bit like Jurassic Park! The dream was so vivid that I plotted out a simple outline immediately. As with many of my stories, I weave in a lot of ideas from books, films and experiences in life. I’m fascinated by people who drive themselves to the limits and it seems like extreme sports are springing up left, right and centre. The sports in the story, such as wing-suiting and volcano boarding actually exist and the dangers are very real. Recently, I was reading that two experienced wing suiters died in the US after attempting a risky drop. I imagined a future where this Type T mentality is extrapolated even further. Wouldn’t earth’s challenges seem a bit tame by the year 3154? The rest of the story basically wrote itself and incorporated the horror element of two contestants going rogue and using the whole event as a hunt to satisfy their psychotic desires.
This competition takes place on a dangerous planet called Atrocitas. Where the plants and animals are just as eager to kill as the competitors. What drove the development of this planet and how did that change as you were writing?
I’m a zoologist by training so I have always been fascinated by the living world. One fact I wasn’t aware of until a few years ago, was that at the time of the dinosaurs, grass and other cereal plants had not evolved. Much of the world was covered in more primitive plants such as cycads and ferns. So I researched the Cretaceous period to try and lend some authenticity to the flora and fauna. It was fun inventing the challenges for the ‘Coffin Dodgers’, from the peak known as the ‘Tooth’ to the white water rapids of the ‘Angelwater.’ The setting, the characters and the nature of the challenges worked together to produce what I hope is a fast-paced story.
The contestants range in gender, nationality, and skill-set. They can either work together to survive, or split up to try to win the whole bounty. What were some of the emotional and moral guidelines you followed when creating your characters?
I wanted to stretch myself and write a female lead character, together with a multi-cultural cast that might reflect a more homogenised society in the future (although recent world events seem to show that this is a long way off yet.) The T-type or ‘Coffin Dodger’ mentality is very different from your average person in the street. They crave and live for that adrenaline rush, the dopamine infusion that comes from confronting death full in the face. Such an extremely competitive spirit can, of course, lead to selfishness as everything else is given second place to being the best of the best. This tension is explored in the relationship between two of the main characters, Wade and Eden. They are from the same mould and are engaged to be married, so they think they understand each other’s life goals and motivations and accept them. However, the circumstances they find themselves in challenge this assumption. What is more important, relationships with your fellow men or the prize of knowing you are the number one multi-athlete in the world? Other characters are conflicted in terms of their desire to survive. Are they likely to increase their chances if they go it alone, or is it better to work together as a team? I think it’s fair to say that none of the characters are completely black and white in terms of their morality, and all of them are changed by the terrors they face on Atrocitas.
What is the next book that you’re writing and when will it be published?
I’m already half way through writing the sequel to my first dark fantasy novel. It’s the second book in the Psychonaut trilogy and will be called ‘Demon-Slayer’. This should be out in the late Summer. In the meantime I’m committed to getting my previous books, including Coffin Dodgers out on audio. I narrate my own books as well as produce for other authors and have a profile on Audible/ACX. So I’ve got a lot to keep me busy in the next six months!
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Posted in Interviews
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