Today I am interviewing David Wilkinson, author of the new sci-fi murder mystery novel, Under the Shell.
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DJ: Hi David! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
David Wilkinson: I wouldn’t be surprised if they aren’t, I’m still very early in my writing career. My first novel, We Bleed the Same was written in a series of workshops bought for me as a birthday present by my wife after she got fed up with me saying I was going to write a novel. It must have gone well though, as it was both published and short-listed for the East Midlands Book Award 2015. I love writing stories about people and my thought process always starts as dialogue. However, as a physicist by day, I’m committed to keeping the science grounded even though it remains firmly in the background.
DJ: What is Under the Shell about?
David: Under the Shell is set in Engalise – a city under siege with no formal laws. Individuals have a few basic rights and these are upheld by Freedom Protection Agents. Jaq Pilakin is one such agent and specialises in murders. As a relatively unknown, independent agent, she has to build cases out of dead bodies that appear to be accidental and one such turns into a string of killings by someone who also then tries to kill her and has a good go at destroying the city into the bargain. Of course there are a lot of twists and turns and Pilakin herself has a dark, bloodstained past she is running away from, so plenty to keep the reader guessing.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Under the Shell?
David: Murder investigation in a closed megacity? Well, of course it all starts with Asimov’s Caves of Steel, which I read as a child. The wider world in which this book is set (the Anjelican Universe) is one I have been creating since early childhood and so many writers have influenced it along the way. I enjoy putting the odd word or half-sentence from such books into my writing here and there, as little Easter-eggs for those who may have also read them.
I had always had Engalise marked down as an ultra-libertarian dystopia and planned to have Pilakin character in it. I panicked a little, then, when Max Barry wrote Jennifer Government but it turned out he had come to the situation from the opposite direction. In his book the people are powerless without money, whereas here, it is my agent is. However, Jennifer Government certainly helped me crystallise my thoughts on how such a society might function.
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? (aka What makes them compelling?)
David: Jaq Pilakin herself – the hero of the book – drinks, smokes, takes drugs and has several other vices. She’s also homeless. She’s now in her early thirties but as an orphaned teenager she fought outside, defending the city in the siege. Whilst out there, she saw and did some things that became a matter of great regret to her as well as being the reason she drinks and gets high. Her job now is an attempt to rebalance the scales of justice and find peace. In addition to Jaq, you’ll meet a plumber with a moral compass who is never off the suspect list, a robot who appears to have never even heard of the three-laws of robotics, a friendly, mysterious freedom fighter who refuses to answer questions about aliens and an organised-crime boss who seems to take a very paternal view toward Pilakin, due to another shared-past secret.
DJ: Now that Under the Shell is released, what is next for you?
David: Well, I have the full outline plot mapped out for the next book in the Anjelican Universe. Characters from both my previous novels will meet and Pilakin will be leaving not only the city, but the whole world it sits on. The main theme running through that one will be betrayal. I’ve also got a story entirely unrelated to this universe that deals with the theme of refugees. Is it possible to write two disparate novels at the same time? I guess we’ll find out!
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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*** Under the Shell is published by Inspired Quill and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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Engalise is a city under siege. Without a government or the usual series of formal laws, relative peace is kept under the premise of the Ten Free Rights of the Individual.
Freedom Protection Agent Jaq Pilakin specialises in investigating violations against the First Right: life. As a freelancer, she’s forced to pick up the less lucrative cases cast aside by the big agencies, and stumbles into a scene where an artillery strike by the besieging forces has left a plumber dead under the rubble.
As Pilakin digs deeper into the case, she finds a trail of murders – and a would-be murderer finds her. When she finally identifies the perpetrator, it turns out she holds Engalise’s entire fate in her own bloodstained hands.
About the Author:
I live in Ashby de la Zouch, land of Jaffa Cakes, Ivanhoe, the National Forest and Adrian Mole’s Cappuccino Years. I’m a physicist and, after years of being a research scientist for the Government, now work for the Institute of Physics. My wife eventually got fed up with me talking about all the books I was going to write and told me to get on with it or shut up.
Writing science fiction in a universe I have been perfecting for decades, my stories are devoted to plot and characters. Influences range from Asimov, Niven-Pournelle and childhood science fiction through to the new style Battle Star Galactica. Having learned my trade with Writing East Midlands, I am now a member of the established Leicester Writers Club.
I fill my time outside of writing and a full time job with raising two children, being a visiting fellow at Nottingham Trent University, governating a local school, playing tuba in the Ashby Concert Band and walking two tiny dogs.