I’ve been aware of Tony Ballantyne’s novels for quite some time, now. I read some of his Penrose novels when they first came out, and have been eagerly awaiting something new. Next month, Solaris will be publishing Dream London, which I will be reading very soon. Graced with a stunning cover by the ever-excellent Joey Hi-Fi, the novel promises to be rather excellent. I had the opportunity to interview Ballantyne, about his work past and present…
Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Tony Ballantyne?
Tony Ballantyne is an SFF writer. His short stories have been published around the world and translated into many languages. The first three were the Recursion Series, the next two part of the robopunk Penrose series. Dream London is his sixth novel.
Your latest novel, Dream London, is published by Solaris in October. How would you introduce the novel to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?
Dream London is a standalone novel, although I do have plans for Dream Paris, a loose sequel. Dream London is rooted in our London, but a London which has been sold to someone or something who is slowly changing the city to suit themselves. Streets change course overnight, buildings grow and shrink and personalities gradually change over time. Captain Jim Wedderburn, the anti hero, is trying to find out who caused these changes.
What inspired you to write the novel? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?
The novel was inspired by ten years living in London. I had notebooks filled with scenes and ideas, but I had no overall story until a chance conversation provided the spark that pulled the whole thing together. That conversation is basically the opening page of the book – something that happened to my friend whilst on holiday in India. The longer I’ve been writing, the more I’m coming to realise just how much I am inspired by random conversations.
How do you enjoy being a writer and working within the publishing industry?
Being a writer is something that I am: I think most writers would say the same. My wife says that I get naggy when I don’t get to write. I have a very tangential relationship with the publishing industry. I send them stories, they send me rejection slips or cheques. Occasionally we meet in a pub and chat about beer, TV shows and computer games.
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 think I wanted to be an author about the same time as I started to read. My first foray into writing was writing jokes for Private Eye and romantic fiction for women’s magazines. I still recommend trying romantic fiction to all aspiring writers. It teaches you everything you need to now about the structure of a good story.
Penrose 1 & 2 (Published by Tor)
What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?
I am very excited by the genre today. I believe SFF has a wider scope than ever before. I also think that the most exciting and cutting edge work in writing is being produced here. If you look at mainstream literature, it’s about twenty years behind what we’re doing now.
What other projects are you working on, and what do you have currently in the pipeline?
I’m currently working on Cosmopolitan Predators! for Aethernet Magazine. Cosmopolitan Predators! is being written as a piece of serial fiction, as have all the stories in Aethernet. It’s been a fascinating experience, exploring a way of writing that had practically died out. It’s definitely changed me as a writer: you can read more about that here.
After that, it’s back to the long-delayed Penrose 3 novel, some short stories set in the Recursion Universe and, just maybe, Dream Paris.
What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?
Fiction: I’ve just finished the excellent Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Non-Fiction: The fascinating Perfect Rigour by Masha Gessen – the story of Grigori Perelman’s contribution to the solution of the Poincaré conjecture.
What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?
I’m rather good at Ballroom and Latin dancing.
What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?
Worldcon. It’ll be great seeing old friends again.
To find out more about Tony Ballantyne’s writing and novels, be sure to visit his website, and be sure to follow him on Twitter. Dream London is published by Solaris Books in the UK and US on October 10th, 2013.