Today I am interviewing David Thomas Moore, editor of the new fantasy anthology, The True History of Strange Brigade.
◊ ◊ ◊
DJ: Hey David! Thanks for stopping by to do an interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
David: Hi there! I’m David Thomas Moore, the Fiction Commissioning Editor at Rebellion Publishing (that’s Solaris and Abaddon Books, for those at the back). I’ve also edited a handful of anthologies, including Not So Stories, Dracula: Rise of the Beast and The True History of the Strange Brigade. If we’ve ever met, there’s a good chance I was doing karaoke at the time.
DJ: What is The True History of Strange Brigade about?
David: It’s a companion volume for the Strange Brigade videogame, coming out on the 28th August on all major platforms. It tells the backstories of the four main playable characters and four of the initial downloadable characters – who they are, and what unearthly encounter first brought them to the attention of the Department of Antiquities, the so-called “Strange Brigade” that protects the world from the supernatural.
The stories are set in our world, sometime in the 1930s – the time of Indiana Jones, of The Shadow, of Doc Savage – and terrible things lurk in the shadows of the world: monsters, old gods, ghosts, alien intelligences and worse. The Department of Antiquities, an unofficial and unacknowledged branch of His Majesty’s Government, holds the duty of rooting these creatures out and making the world safe. The Brigade itself, formed of agents from around the world – from India and Japan, from Kenya and America, from everywhere the Empire has a presence – are the sharp edge of the Department, travelling where needed and doing what must be done.
DJ: What was it like to develop a book alongside a videogame? How did the project come about?
David: Rebellion’s a broad tent; we’re first and foremost a videogame company, although those of us in the publishing bay generally look over the partition in mystification at the eldritch workings of PX, and GUI, and QA, and so on. But walking to my desk every morning, I noticed the concept art for what would come to be called Strange Brigade going up on the wall, and made a few enquiries, and then a few suggestions…
It’s been an interesting ride! Videogames go through a lot of changes in production – an entire rewrite and a seven-month reschedule, for starters. Chasing new character briefs from the developers, asking about design, getting notes on rewrites as the game evolved to ensure our book didn’t too glaringly contradict what players were going to see on the screen (although I discovered late on that the developers were rewriting the game to match the book, which was a pleasant surprise), coordinating with the marketing team to make sure the art and logos were correct. We’re used to working pretty autonomously with the books, but the games are a huge endeavour with lots of stakeholders.
DJ: What kinds of stories should readers expect in the anthology?
David: It’s all good pulpy fun, to a point. There’s a demon-haunted factory, and a Lovecraftian cult of horrifying unearthly parasites; one island of monsters and another island of dinosaurs. A whole lost city under a desert (where’d we be without a lost city?) and a humble family of wereleopards. And throughout, there’s two-fisted, gun-toting heroes doing their best to put the horrors back in their boxes.
But there’s a more serious side to the job. Not to put too fine a point on it, the Department is an arm of a vast colonial power, close to the height of its reach; and that’s something that needs to be tackled with care. These authors are from around the world, and they’ve delivered stories that challenge and question the status quo at every turn. These stories are about killing monsters, but they’re also about class, and about race; they’re about the legacy of old power, about the questionable things done in the name of peace. About the way people have had to negotiate their way through the world the British Empire made.
DJ: Being an editor, what do you believe makes a good story?
David: Gosh. There isn’t one answer to that. I want to read something I don’t expect. Something that sets up my expectations and then blind-sides me. But there again, a safe story that does what it does very, very well can be hugely satisfying.
More than anything, I want to revel in language. A novel is a slog, but a story is a passing thing, and most writers take the time to play with language in their shorts; to tease with it, to turn it over and break it and make it do things they normally wouldn’t.
DJ: This may… this will be a difficult question to answer, but what are some of your favorite stories in The True History of Strange Brigade? I don’t mean what you believe is the best, but perhaps some stories has a particular setting, theme, message, or character that you stood out to you?
David: Why must you savage me with this question? *shakes fists*
They all do different things for me. My favourite characters are probably Gracie, Winston and Anjali (although Cass’s, Guy’s and Mimi’s voices, the way they bare their heroes’ souls, may be responsible for that), but my favourite plots may be “Ripples in a Polluted Pool,” “The Professor’s Dilemma” and “Nalangu’s Trials.” “The Island of Nightmares” has maybe the best villain, and “Tessie’s Song” the best dialogue.
DJ: What was your favorite part about editing The True History of Strange Brigade?
David: Working with and around the videogame team. It was such a different experience, and a steep learning curve. It was sometimes enormous fun, sometimes frustrating, sometimes quite gratifying. And the guys’ enthusiasm was amazing – they seemed so pleased the game got to be a book as well, as though making a book wasn’t by far the smaller task.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it this one?
David: Ooh, I don’t know! How much the book added to their appreciation of the game, I hope.
DJ: When it comes to getting stories for these anthologies, how does that process work? Do you send requests to certain authors, asking them to write a story? Or do you get stories from authors asking for consideration to be included?
David: This was definitely an invitation process, for three reasons. Firstly, because the mix of characters demanded authors from a mix of backgrounds, and authors who would treat the subjects with due respect (not every author was matched to their character – I felt like that would have been tokenism – but sensitivity readers were brought to bear where relevant). Secondly, because the authors were working from pre-written character briefs. And thirdly, because the authors had to sign non-disclosure agreements before I could tell them anything about the game!
DJ: Now that The True History of Strange Brigade is released, what is next for you?
David: Next up is Creatures: Legacy of Frankenstein, a five-hander telling the story of the two centuries from the events of Shelley’s novel to today, with five more scientists and five more creatures. It features Emma Newman, Tade Thompson, Kaaron Warren, Paul Meloy and Rose Biggin and it’s out in October. Check it out!
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?
David: Just to check it out! And to check out the contributors’ other work; they’re all great, and I pretty much always pick authors up in the hopes people will read beyond my anthologies to their other stuff. You won’t be disappointed.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
David: Most welcome!
◊ ◊ ◊
*** The True History of Strange Brigade is published by Abaddon and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
◊ ◊ ◊
Anthology fiction based on the highly-anticipated up-coming video game!
A SAFARI INTO DANGER!
There are remote corners of the British Empire where the supernatural lurks and the shadows linger, where few dare go and fewer return.
A TIME FOR HEROES!
This is the world of the little-known Department of Antiquities—the so-called “Strange Brigade”—tasked with confronting ancient and terrible evils that threaten us all. But who are these mysterious adventurers?
EIGHT RIP-ROARING NEW ADVENTURES!
Join rising stars Cassandra Khaw, Gaie Sebold, Tauriq Moosa, Guy Adams, Jonathan L. Howard, Mimi Mondal, Patrick Lofgren and Joseph Guthrie as they delve into the hidden origins of some of the Brigade’s finest, and marvel at these never-before-seen tales of our fearless and unflinching heroes…
About the Author:
A lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy, an avid roleplayer and LRPer, an enthusiastic if unskilled swordfighter and a passable cook, David Thomas Moore is the author of several short stories and one roleplaying supplement, and the editor of a number of anthologies. He is the Fiction Commissioning Editor at Rebellion Publishing.
Born and raised in Australia, he lives in Reading in the UK with his wife and daughter.