TQ: Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?
David: Robert Howard, for swashbuckling tales of high adventure...
Jack Vance, for for his ability to create worlds that are at once crazily exotic and more than a little familiar....
Michael Moorcock, for creating such a memorable hero....
As to more recent authors, I read George R.R. Martin and Pat Rothfuss obsessively.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
David: Definitely a plotter. I'm not one of those writers who can just dive in and rely on their subconsicous and inner creativity to see them through. When I do that, my subconscious kicks me off a cliff.
Which doesn't mean that there isn't improvisation in the moment of writing. There has to be. But I'm all about equipping myself with all the tools I can before I get there.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
David: Finishing the book and having to deal with the fact that I have to say goodbye to it.
TQ: Describe The Pillars of Hercules in 140 characters or less.
David: A steampunk /alternate history novel set in the age of Alexander the Great, Athens, and Aristotle.
TQ: What inspired you to write The Pillars of Hercules?
David: I'm obsessed with ancient history, but with history, you always know what the ending is. So I wanted to write something that would leave readers guessing.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for The Pillars of Hercules?
David: I thought I knew the history pretty well, but the deeper I got into the primary sources, the more I realized that there were so many fascinating aspects about the period that no one has really emphasized before. This was especially true of the technology-- obviously I amped that up, but the truth of the matter is that the ancient world had way more tech than we give it credit for. Heron of Alexandria, for example, invented the steam engine in the first century, but it was never put to widespread use (obviously).
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?
David: Alexander was the hardest. I wanted people to see an Alexander the Great unlike any they've seen in fiction--I think too many of literature's Alexanders are way too idealized, and I wanted mine to have some edges. He's the book's antagonist, true, but no less impressive for it.
As to the easiest character, that's probably Lugorix. He's based on Fritz Leiber's Fahrd (of Fahrd and the Grey Mouser fame), obviously, with a few twists of my own.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Pillars of Hercules?
David: When the characters finally reach Atlantis, and realize what that place really is.
TQ: What's next?
David: Well, I've just put up the new website at www.thepillarsofhercules.com. And I'm working on another book set in the same era....
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
David: Thank you!
About The Pillars of Hercules
The Pillars of HerculesNight Shade Books (March 6, 2012)
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
Alexander, Prince of Macedon, is the terror of the world. Persia, Egypt, Athens . . . one after another, mighty nations are falling before the fearsome conqueror. Some say Alexander is actually the son of Zeus, king of the gods, and the living incarnation of Hercules himself. Worse yet, some say Alexander believes this . . . .
The ambitious prince is aided in his conquest by unstoppable war-machines based on the forbidden knowledge of his former tutor, the legendary scientist-mage known as Aristotle. Greek fire, mechanical golems, and gigantic siege--engines lay waste to Alexander's enemies as his armies march relentlessly west--toward the very edge of the world.
Beyond the Pillars of Hercules, past the gateway to the outer ocean, lies the rumored remnants of Atlantis: ancient artifacts of such tremendous power that they may be all that stands between Alexander and conquest of the entire world. Alexander desires that power for himself, but an unlikely band of fugitives--including a Gaulish barbarian, a cynical Greek archer, a cunning Persian princess, and a sorcerer's daughter--must find it first . . . before Alexander unleashes godlike forces that will shatter civilization.
The Pillars of Hercules is an epic adventure that captures the grandeur and mystery of the ancient world as it might have been, where science and magic are one and the same.