Today I am interviewing Alec Worley, author of the new science-fiction novel, Judge Anderson: Year One.
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DJ: Hey Alec! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
Alec Worley: Thanks for having me, DJ!
DJ: For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Alec: I write comics for 2000 AD, as well as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Star Wars (both for younger readers). Fiction-wise, I’m currently writing stories for Black Library’s Warhammer series.
I’ve been writing professionally for about ten years now. I started out as a projectionist in the picture palaces and fleapits of London’s West End, before becoming a movie journalist and eventually got into comics through the slush pile at 2000 AD. Working under Tharg the Mighty, editor of the Glaxy’s Greatest Comic, I’ve written stories for Judge Dredd, Judge Anderson and Robo-Hunter, as well as two original series: the ‘spookpunk’ action-comedy Dandridge and the werewolf epic Age of the Wolf. I’m from Tooting in South London and for years I thought a ‘cream tea’ was tea with cream in it.
DJ: What is Judge Anderson: Year One about?
Alec: It’s a collection of three interlinked novellas (plus a bonus short story and rambling introduction) about the psychic Judge Anderson’s traumatic first year on the streets of Mega-City One. The first story, Heartbreaker, has her on the trail of a killer terrorizing the Big Meg’s most popular dating site ‘Meet Market’ (a cross between eHarmony and eBay); the second story, The Abyss, is way darker and sees her fighting to save her own sanity when she finds herself trapped inside a psychiatric prison following a botched breakout; the third story, A Dream of the Nevertime, is a mystical road trip in which she journeys into the bizarre wastes of the Cured Earth to find a cure for a psychedelic virus that threatens to destroy both her and the city.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Judge Anderson: Year One?
Alec: Movies like Silence of the Lambs, Manhunter, Die Hard, Haywire, and Red River, books like Stephen Hunter’s Point of Impact, Dirty White Boys and Black Light, Garth Ennis’s Punisher MAX series by Marvel, David Simon’s Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, and a bunch of critical essays by Stephen Hunter, Kim Newman and Marina Warner.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Alec: Judge Anderson’s the hero of the piece. She’s Mega-City One’s premier psychic Judge (for those not in the know, we’re in the Judge Dredd universe here, in which Judges are an elite police force charged with dispensing brutal summary justice as they see fit in an insane future city). She’s my favourite 2000 AD character and is everything you could want as a writer: she’s funny, conflicted, tough-as-nails and can read people’s minds. I really wanted to get into her head and see the world through her eyes. Not just in terms of having fun digging into peoples’ heads, but trying to understand how she can view all that awful stuff and still think people are worth fighting for.
DJ: What is the world and setting of Judge Anderson: Year One like?
Alec: Like I said, we’re in the Judge Dredd universe (of the comics, not the 2012 movie Dredd, which had a much more real-world take on things). The setting is Mega-City One, which is this chaotic, sprawling future dystopia, a bizarre technological oasis surrounded by irradiated wasteland left over from the Atomic Wars, and in which the surviving citizens have been pretty much driven insane by unemployment, overcrowding, pollution, and popular culture. The setting is so inventive, I’ve always thought it’s very much like Terry Pratchett’s Discworld in that you can explore any kind of idea or story within it.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Judge Anderson: Year One?
Alec: Haha! None of it! All three stories were a nightmare to write. As a psychic detective who can read the mind of any suspect, Anderson is maddeningly tricky to place within a story without her destroying it in the first five minutes. “Yeah, that guy’s the murderer. Anyone need coffee?” That said, I did like getting into her psyche and finding out what motivates her, drives her. I liked unearthing all these things about what makes her who she is. I also loved the action scenes; all those bone-breaking fight scenes, yeah! I’m really proud of this book, despite the work it took writing it. As Dorothy Parker once said, “I hate writing. I love having written.”
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Alec: I hope readers like what I’ve done in terms of deepening Anderson’s character and getting to the heart of what makes her tick. She’s often slipped into being 2000 AD’s pin-up girl, and I honestly wanted to counter that and bring out some ugly. I wanted those fight scenes to be really nasty, vicious affairs, where she’s getting her nose broken and her ribs cracked, rather than all that dainty kickboxing she did in the comics just so’s the artist could show off her legs. She’s a hard-ass cop, not an underwear model, dammit! Above all, I wanted her to be human, rather than some sexy bimbo or an all-powerful Mary Sue. I wanted her to make mistakes, get angry, get gas, have feelings for other people, and understand how she feels about being part of the brutal regime of the Justice Department. I really wanted to go as deep as I could, deeper than you can possibly go within the confines of a five-page comic strip.
DJ: What was your goal when you began writing Judge Anderson: Year One? Is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Alec: I’m not one for stories that preach. If I want to rant about how I feel about the world, I’ll go write a blog. But there are themes here, sure. They have to be buried and expressed as drama, but yeah. Book two is about what differentiates justice from revenge; Book Three is about social justice warrorism (is ‘warriorism’ a word?). Of course, you don’t actually recognize what these themes are until you come to polish up the final draft. But I did read a lot of essays and think pieces initially, exploring arguments from every angle, and not just the ones I agree with. Isn’t the point of being a writer supposed to be getting into the heads of people who aren’t you?
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Judge Anderson: Year One that you can share with us?
Alec: I might have to leave this one to you. 😉
DJ: Now that Judge Anderson: Year One is released, what is next for you?
Alec: I’ve just completed an Anderson comic (set in the universe of the 2012 Dredd movie); this’ll be collected in the graphic novel Dredd / Anderson: The Deep End (out 13 July). I’ve also got a few Dredd stories in the Dredd: The Cape and Cowl Crimes collection (out now). I’m doing another Star Wars project for Panini Germany, as well as more Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics for Panini UK and more Warhammer shorts for Black Library. Other than these, everything I’m working on right now is either hush-hush or at the pitch stage.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add? (Or add your own question).
Alec: Nah, all good. Thanks for everything, DJ.
DJ: You are quite welcome! And thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Alec: You’re very welcome, indeed! Cheers!
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*** Judge Anderson: Year One is published by Abaddon and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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The untold story behind Mega-City One’s most famous telepath and Judge Dredd partner, Judge Anderson, in her first year on the job!
Mega-City One, 2100. Cassandra Anderson is destined to become Psi-Division’s most famous Judge, foiling supernatural threats and policing Mega-City One’s hearts and souls. For now, she’s fresh out of Academy and Psi-Div themselves are still finding their feet.
Heartbreaker: After a string of apparently random, deadly assaults by customers at a dating agency, Anderson is convinced a telepathic killer is to blame. Putting her career on the line, the newly-trained Psi-Judge goes undercover to bring the romance-hating murderer to justice, with the big Valentine’s Day parade coming up…
The Abyss: Sent to interrogate Moriah Blake, leader of the notorious terror group ‘Bedlam,’ Anderson gets just one snippet of information – Bedlam’s planning on detonating a huge bomb – before Blake’s followers take over the Block. It’s a race against time, and Anderson’s on her own amongst the inmates…
A Dream of the Nevertime: Anderson – a rookie no more, with a year on the streets under her belt – contracts what appears to be a deadly psychic virus, and must explore the weirdest reaches of the Cursed Earth in search of a cure. She must face mutants, mystics and all the strangeness the land can throw at her as she wrestles weird forces…
Alec Worley writes comics for 2000 AD, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Wars and others. (And no, he doesn’t draw the pictures.) He also writes fiction.
He spent several years as a projectionist in the picture palaces and fleapits of London’s West End, before jacking it all in to become a movie journalist writing for Sight & Sound, Empire, Total Film, SFX, and others. In 2005 he published the book, Empires of the Imagination: A Critical Survey of Fantasy Cinema from Georges Méliès to The Lord of the Rings.
Alec got into comics through the slush pile at 2000 AD for whom he went on to write for classic characters Judge Dredd, Judge Anderson, and Robo-Hunter, as well as create two original series: paranormal comedy Dandridge (with artist Warren Pleece) and urban fantasy saga Age of the Wolf (with artist Jon Davis-Hunt). He writes Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Star Wars for younger readers, as well as Realm of the Damned, a series of horror graphic novels most definitely for grown-ups.
Fiction-wise, he’s written a popular trilogy about the early adventures of Judge Anderson, 2000 AD’s premier psychic law enforcer. He also writes for Games Workshop/Black Library’s Warhammer 40,000 series.
Alec lives in London.
You can follow him on Pinterest and Twitter (@alec_worley).
He also blogs (when he can).