Today I am interviewing Alex Wells, author of the new science-fiction novel, Blood Binds the Pack, second book in the Hob series.
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DJ: Hi Alex! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Alex: I’ve been professionally writing science fiction and fantasy for about eight years now. I’m also a geologist; I got my MS in sedimentology, which I’ve been told shows a little bit in how I write things. Deserts landforms are my favorites, which explains a lot about the setting for the books at least!
DJ: What is Blood Binds the Pack and then the Hob series about?
Alex: It’s about the worker population on a company-owned and controlled planet striking to try to better their living conditions–but it’s also about ultimately who is going to control interstellar travel in this universe, even if they don’t quite realize it. It’s about working people asserting their right to survive and thrive and have control over their own destinies. There’s also, I will note, witchiness. (I’ve been told that Blood Binds the Pack manages to stand on its own, but if you read Hunger Makes the Wolf first, you’ll know the characters better.)
DJ: What were some of your influences for the Hob series?
Alex: Definitely Dune and Firefly are aesthetic influences. The biggest influence is actually historical, though. A lot of what happens in these books is influenced by or even directly related to the Colorado Coal Field Wars, which was a series of clashes between company and government men and the union coal miners.
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?
Alex: There are really three main characters in Blood Binds the Pack. Hob Ravani is the biker space witch you might have seen mentioned elsewhere. She’s the head of what’s effectively a mercenary company, cusses like a sailor, smokes like a chimney, tends to fix her problems by shooting them, and can control fire with her witchiness. A lot of people really like Hob because she takes no shit and makes no apologies.
Mag is Hob’s best friend/adopted sister; she’s basically Hob’s opposite in a lot of ways. She’s quiet and doesn’t bluster, but she plots and plans with the best of them. Mag is the driving force behind the workers basically unionizing, and her strength is constantly underestimated by others. Mag is probably the most dangerous character in the book, and I think that’s something that appeals to people because she’s feminine and incredibly strong without needing to manifest that strength in punching things.
The third character is Shige, the younger brother of one of Hob’s people, who is actually a government spy sent to disrupt the company’s stranglehold on the planet and therefore interstellar travel. Shige seems like a very cold fish at times, but he’s got a lot of… family issues and spends most of the book trying to figure out what he wants beyond his duty as an FUS operative. He appeals to people who like [slightly angsty and conflicted] spymaster characters, I think.
DJ: What is the world and setting of the the Hob series like?
Alex: The planet this is set on, Tanegawa’s World, is a desert planet that’s got something… odd going on with it. Physics as we know it doesn’t operate properly there. So there’s very limited technology, and certain kinds of religion have been really pushed by the company because it’s a great means of social control. Since it’s owned wholly by TransRift, Inc, and they have the absolute monopoly on interstellar travel, the planet and its population are basically theirs to do with as they please. It’s an absolutely brutal place to live unless you’re in management.
This is somewhat in contrast with the rest of the universe as a whole. Once fast interstellar travel became possible, the Federal Union of Systems started collecting all of its itinerant colony worlds back in… and generally it’s an all right government. Citizens have rights, there’s justice, there’s basic income, things like that–in theory. Unfortunately, there’s only so much a government can do when it’s basically caught in a stranglehold by corporate interests. There isn’t anything the FUS can do without TransRift basically facilitating it, which complicates things a lot. The worlds that fall under the FUS umbrella also aren’t monoliths. There’s theoretically equality under the law and religious freedom and all that other lovely stuff, but a lot of places are going to have had their values set by whoever originally colonized them… and in many cases, there’s a reason people set off wanting to get away from a government that could tell them, “No.”
DJ: How have the reviews been from readers, bloggers, and reviewers for the first book of the Hob series? Is there anything that your audience seems to be particularly enjoying or is eager to find out more about?
Alex: I’ve been getting generally positive feedback, which is great! People seem to like the Bone Collector a lot, and want to know what his deal is… which you do find out in this book. And I think people have really loved the ride-or-die friendship between Hob and Mag, since it’s a depiction of two women being intensely supportive of each other and letting nothing stand in their way.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Blood Binds the Pack?
Alex: I’m not going to spoil it for people, but it’s the new version of the “train job” in this book. I had an incredible amount of fun writing it, especially the dialog. Even more especially Dambala’s commentary.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Alex: I think everyone will still be talking about Hob and Mag as scary, strong BFFs, really. That, and hopefully “fuck corporations.”
DJ: Did you have a goal when you began writing the Hob series? 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?
Alex: One of the big things I wanted to hit with these books was explaining why unions are important, and why workers would want to organize, and why we should all be incredibly angry about the way labor is currently being treated. There is power in people rising up to speak with one voice. Company’s aren’t the friends of workers. They don’t have our best interests at heart, even if they start out thinking they do. Blue collar anger about all of these things was the fuel for both books.
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 Blood Binds the Pack that you can share with us?
Alex: I’ve got some favorite quotes, but I can’t really share them without them being spoilers!
DJ: Now that Blood Binds the Pack is released, what is next for you?
Alex: I just finished the rough draft of a completely unrelated scifi novel, so I’m hopefully going to get that finished up in a few months and sent out into the world. I think next, I’m going to write some fantasy, though, for a change. I’ve also got a collection of steam punk mystery novellas coming out soon from Queen of Swords Press: Murder on the Titania and Other Steam-Powered Adventures
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Author Newsletter: http://tinyletter.com/katsudonstory
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Blood Binds the Pack and the Hob series that we haven’t talked about yet?
Alex: Coyote and Dambala are totally murder husbands and some day I shall tell you the glorious story of how they met and fell in love.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?
Alex: Solidarity forever.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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*** Blood Binds the Pack is published by Angry Robot and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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Join the fight for the people and power of Tanegawa’s world in this thrilling sequel to Hunger Makes the Wolf
War is coming to Hob Ravani’s world. The company that holds it in monopoly, TransRift Inc, has at last found what they’re looking for–the source of the power that enables their Weathermen to rip holes in space and time, allowing the interstellar travel all of human society now takes for granted. And they will mine every last grain of it from Tanegawa’s World no matter the cost.
Since Hob Ravani used her witchy powers to pull a massive train job and destroy TransRift Inc’s control on this part of the planet, the Ghost Wolves aren’t just outlaws, they’re the resistance. Mag’s miner collective grows restless as TransRift pushes them ever harder to strip the world of its strange, blue mineral. Now Shige Rollins has returned with a new charge–Mr Yellow, the most advanced model of Weatherman, infused with the recovered mineral samples and made into something stranger, stronger, and deadlier than before. And Mr Yellow is very, very hungry.
Alex Wells is a writer, geologist, and sharp-dressed sir. They’ve had short stories in Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Daily Science Fiction, Shimmer, and more.
Alex is a host on the popular Skiffy and Fanty podcast, where they talk about movies and other nerdy sci-fi and fantasy things.