Today I am interviewing Angus Watson, author of the new fantasy novel, You Die When You Die, first book in the West of the West series.
◊ ◊ ◊
DJ: Hey Angus! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Angus Watson: Hello DJ. I am author who lives in west London, UK. I’m in my forties and getting older. I am married to Nicola. We have two young sons, Charlie (3) and Otty (1), and two cats, Jasmine and Napa.
My first historical fantasy trilogy was Age of Iron, an epic romantic adventure set at the end of Britain’s Iron Age. I came up with the idea for West of West while driving and hiking though North America’s magnificent countryside and wondering what it was like before the Europeans got there.
DJ: What is You Die When You Die about?
Angus: You Die When You Die is an epic historical fantasy. It’s a humour-packed adventure romance, which tells the story of a mismatched group of survivors crossing a continent to fulfill a prophesy.
Ahead of them are murderous enemies and other troubles including a tornado and increasingly scary monsters, and they are pursued by a bunch of super-powered warriors. As if they didn’t have enough problems, they like to squabble amongst themselves.
DJ: What were some of your influences for You Die When You Die and the series?
Angus: Well, apart from everything I’ve ever read and seen, I guess my chief influence was the American landscape. I fell in love with the US countryside on a road trip around the western half about six years ago and have been back many times since, I decided to run an epic adventure through it so I could spend more time roaming America, and do some research on pre Columbian history.
(I’m writing this interview in the Bellagio hotel, Las Vegas. I was at Comic Con over the weekend, but am now spending two extra days looking about the desert and doing as much hiking as the heat allows. I was in Valley of Fire State Park this morning, somewhere that my characters will pass through in book three.)
So, I was set on writing a book set in a fantasy ancient America, when my editor asked if I might write a book about Vikings. I’m fascinated by Vikings, and I’d been reading a lot about them, particularly about their voyages to North America. I thought Vikings and Indians… why not?
DJ: This is only a question I’ve asked once before: where you did the idea for the name of the novel?
Also, I don’t know what the budget Orbit has for promoting your novel, but I cannot read the title without having Ivan Drago (from Rocky IV), saying it. It simply fits too good XD
Angus: ‘You Die When You Die’ was a concept central to Viking philosophy. Your date of death was set at birth, and there’s nothing you can do about it, so you might as well do what the hell you want and be as brave and badass as can be, because you’ll still die on that same day. My book is a fantasy fiction, but the survivors fleeing across the continent are entirely based on Vikings.
Re Ivan Drago – Have a listen to a bit of the Audiobook. They guy reading it, Sean Barrett, makes Dolph Lundgren sound like a wimp.
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?
Angus: Central is Finnbogi the Boggy who’s based on me when I was 19. He thinks he’s a jolly decent bloke who could handle any problem, but really he’s a fairly inept, self-centered coward. Given the situation – pretty much all his tribe slaughtered and then being pursued by ruthless killers, he’ll have to grow up quickly.
There are many other characters.
On the Viking side, for example, there’s Sassa Lipchewer who is tough, nifty with a bow and desperate to have a baby; Keef the Berserker who takes nothing seriously apart from weapons practice time, and it’s always weapons practice time; Freydis the Annoying, a fiercely intelligent six year-old girl; Garth Anvilchin, a nasty bastard who’s out to get Finnbogi and many more.
The other main group in the book are the super powered warriors chasing them. These are ten alchemically enhanced women, including superfast and super sarcastic Paloma Pronghorn, super strong giant Chogolisa Earthquake who’s sensitive, kind to her friends but likes pulling enemies’ spines out while they’re alive, and several others. They may be super-powered, but they have problems of their own and chasing down the Vikings proves to a be a lot harder than they thought it was going to be.
DJ: What is the world and setting of the West of the West series like?
Angus: It’s a fantasy North America a thousand years ago. The people in the book are not based on any real life tribes – history knows very little about these tribes – but like the tribes who were around then, they are very varied.
DJ: I’ve heard that you created quite a unique magic system! Could you tell us about it?
Angus: The super soldiers chasing Finnbogi and his people are women who were chosen by a perverted emperor for their looks and abilities. They have been warped by alchemy and each has a special power. To tell you more detail about how that works would be a spoiler.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing You Die When You Die?
Angus: I should say ‘getting to know the characters’ or something like that, but really it was 30 days’ driving across the USA and plotting the novels (split into three 10 day trips). Writing can be boring – sitting in front of a computer all day is not much fun. However, hiking in rural Illinois, The South Dakota Badlands, Capitol Reef National Park and many many more places between Chicago and Las Vegas, talking into a Dictaphone about what my characters are going to do when they get there, was quite fun.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Angus: How amazing the twist in the end was, and how much they are looking forward to the next book. They will probably also by cursing Amazon for only allowing then to award it five stars when clearly it deserves at least six.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing the West of the West series? You Die When You Die is only the first book, but 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?
Angus: The book is packed with messages and themes, overt and subtle. There’s a crushingly obvious environmental message, for example, but a less obvious dig at the hypocrisy of modern-day environmentalism. I don’t mind whether the reader sees these or not. Books, I think, are what the reader makes of them, not what the writer intended.
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 You Die When You Die that you can share with us?
Angus: I wrote it, so I reckon the whole thing is brilliant and every line is quotable for the horde of fans that will camp outside my house, and at all the huge West or West fan clubs that are going to spring up around the world.
However, if pushed, the first thing that springs to mind is what Keef says when the super warriors want information so are about to gouge his eye out: “Do you really want a captive with no depth perception? I’ll be a burden!”
DJ: Now that You Die When You Die is released, what is next for you?
Angus: The next two in the series – The Land You Never Leave, and Never Meet Your Gods.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about You Die When You Die and the West of the West series that we haven’t talked about yet?
Angus: It has a good tornado scene.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?
A: Thanks for the interview!
DJ: Well, you are welcome! Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
◊ ◊ ◊
*** You Die When You Die is published by Orbit and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
◊ ◊ ◊
YOU DIE WHEN YOU DIE . . .
You can’t change your fate – so throw yourself into battle, because you’ll either win or wake up drinking mead in the halls of your ancestors. That’s what Finn’s people believe.
But Finn wants to live. When his settlement is massacred by a hostile nation, Finn plus several friends and rivals must make their escape across a brutal, unfamiliar landscape, and to survive, Finn will fight harder than he’s ever fought before.
The David Gemmell Award-nominated author of Age of Iron returns with You Die When You Die – an epic fantasy adventure in which a mismatched group of refugees battle animals and monsters, determined assassins, an unforgiving land and each other as they cross a continent to fulfil a prophecy.
In his twenties, Angus Watson’s jobs ranged from forklift truck driver to investment banker. He spent his thirties on various assignments as a freelance writer, such as searching for Bigfoot in the USA for the Telegraph, diving on the scuppered German fleet at Scapa Flow for the Financial Times and swimming with sea lions off the Galapagos Islands for the Times.
Now entering his forties, Angus lives in London with his wife Nicola and baby son Charlie. As a fan of both historical fiction and epic fantasy, he came up with the idea of writing a fantasy set in the Iron Age when exploring British hillforts for the Telegraph, and developed the story while walking Britain’s ancient paths for further articles.
Use this link to sign up to his emailing list for tastefully infrequent updates about new projects and more – http://eepurl.com/bgENs5