Today I am interviewing Justina Robson author of the new fantasy novel, Salvation’s Fire, second book in the After the War series. She has previously been known for her Science Fiction novels, such as Natural History and the Quantum Gravity series.
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DJ: Hi Justina! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Justina Robson: Thanks for asking! I have published about twelve or thirteen SF novels and SF/Fantasy mashup books prior to writing Salvation’s Fire. I enjoy reading, gaming and living at home with my husband and three children plus a cat, dog and fish of various sorts. My background before publication was in Philosophy and Linguistics, just enough to know I didn’t know very much. I’ve also had various admin jobs and spent a few years as a fitness instructor and a yoga teacher.
DJ: What is Salvation’s Fire and then the After the War series about?
Justina: The series focuses on some characters who were instrumental in bringing about the end of a large scale epic-fantasy style war (I’m saying epic because it includes demigods and has that sweep of genocidal humans vs monsters flavour to it). They’re trying, each in their own ways, to find new lives and new purposes as they try to salvage and rebuild after this conflict has ended. My story picks up where Adrian’s left off (that’s Redemption’s Blade) and goes to explore the nature and fate of the gods who were instrumental in bringing about the start of the war – or at least laying the conditions for it. It focuses on the original characters plus a few new ones, in particular an orphaned girl and a monster in human form.
DJ: What were some of your influences for the After the War series?
Justina: Because the series was started by Adrian in Redemption’s Blade he had already done a massive amount of worldbuilding. I felt that it would be fun to try and continue with the same kind of rich texture and diversity he’d got as well as keeping the tone of the story’s origin, which is quite playful. It’s very much like a party adventure with some comic moments as well as action. But I’m not quite as lighthearted as Adrian is so my take on it is a little darker in some ways and a little bit more whimsical in others. I wanted to keep a sense of cohesion with the first part of the story. At one point, when trying to make the fortress of the Kinslayer we were discussing that it was very Mordor-like, in the first book, hinted at but not expanded. I had decided to go there so we said I ought to try for Even More-dor. And that’s what I tried. The monster I mentioned is also a combination of Maleficent, Bride of Frankenstein and Miss Havisham in basic concept but her journey is very much influenced by Flowers For Algernon – she starts out as an empty vessel, without personality or intelligence, but she grows and develops at exponential speed once she gets activated.
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?
Justina: All of Adrian’s characters were so much fun I couldn’t leave them alone. Your list is going to be long here. First we have golden warrior, Celestaine, human and tough and trying hard to be very fair. She travels with a huge pair of foe-breaking ex-baddies – Heno, who is a mage and a war criminal, and Nedlam who is my favourite character, a warrior, eight feet plus of muscle and hammer and a very uncomplicated, carefree personality for someone who spent their life mining and killing. After that there’s Ralas, the bard, living in permanent pain and disability but still managing to keep a witty head. Then we get to Kula, a little girl, last of her race, largely silent because she’s deaf, but able to feel the life in everything. Finally there’s Lysandra, the creation of the necromancers, who becomes the mother of Kula instead of the next big bad thing, as she was intended to be until the war rendered her obsolete. Wait, we haven’t even got to the adorable Dr Catt and Dr Fisher who are just so much fun that we’re thinking we might do a special anthology themed around them and their collection of massively powerful artifacts masquerading as dodgy antiques, for example the Bounteous Domicile of Huln. You’ll have to read it to find out more…
DJ: What is the world and setting of the the After the War series like?
Justina: Actually I don’t know the name of the world – I’m not sure anyone’s invented it. You’ll have to ask Rebellion about that. But at a smaller scale I can tell you that there are a lot of humanoid races of all colours, shapes and sizes, plus the ‘normal’ kind we have on Earth. There are also races of beings of varying degrees of sentience who are very animal-like either by their nature or their bodily appearance and whose cultures are richly divergent and strange. You’ll find all kinds of communities, styles of governance, ways of living and ideologies flourishing and fighting. The story takes you on travels through many places and many peoples. It is not short on variety and all the situations that arise from that.
DJ: How have the reviews been from readers, bloggers, and reviewers for the first book of the After the War series? Is there anything that your audience seems to be particularly enjoying or is eager to find out more about?
Justina: I’m not actually sure yet. I’ve seen a lot of positive comments about Redemption’s Blade and I have to say I think it’s one of Adrian’s best books – so lively and full of a spirit of joy in just the discovery of the adventure and the characters’ experiences. I hope they will enjoy what I chose to write about too but I haven’t heard anything yet.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Salvation’s Fire?
Justina: Setting up and then subverting various expectations along the way, particularly the ones where it looks like something grim and dark is going to happen, but then something quite different happens instead.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Justina: I have no idea. Hopefully that they want a story that tells some more about Bukham, the priest who isn’t, and Mags Broadaxe of the Ilkand Broadaxes who really needs her own story.
DJ: Did you have a goal when you began writing the After the War series? The series is not yet complete, 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?
Justina: I felt that there was a quiet background theme of hope and reparation. I can’t say forgiveness, forgiveness is actually left behind by it. It isn’t simple and it isn’t always fulfilled in the way you might expect but there’s a basic – kindness? – coming through in the wake of a lot of terrible nastiness which doesn’t dismiss or deny that nastiness, it just moves it along. It’s a very deeply humanitarian book series (so far anyway), because it’s not just after the war, it’s also after the gods too. It’s progressive fantasy.
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 Salvation’s Fire that you can share with us?
Justina: Yes. There’s one near the start of the story where Nedlam, the giant warbreaker warrior, has just woken up from a drunken stupor at a wedding reception where she has decided to marry her sledgehammer (a legendary hammer which used to belong to the demigod called Wall, but still, just a hammer) and give herself a title as a result. She and her friends are menaced by a group of rowdies ready to murder them for their crimes in the war. The leading hate-monger spits a string of insulting names at her, even as he’s being disciplined by his Lord, and she swings the hammer and sends him flying, with the immortal line (she doesn’t do verbs or attributions very well) –
“That Lady Wall to you, son.”
DJ: Now that Salvation’s Fire is released, what is next for you?
Justina: I’m writing a sequel (and final, I think) to Glorious Angels, a fantasy/SF story set in another world colonised by a lost starship.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B004N1PK9S
Author Newsletter: er…
Facebook: I don’t really do Facebook very much atm but Justina LA Robson
Goodreads: I should really write more https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/224518.Justina_Robson
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Salvation’s Fire and the After the War series that we haven’t talked about yet?
Justina: It should be a TV series. You’ll see why. Especially in Blade there are so many scenes which are just so nicely made you can see how it would be fun to have this and then the reaction shot and then…It’s got a very lively, vivid and visual ethic.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?
Justina: I would like someone to invent, for real, the pie I invented in the story. But not like I used to ‘invent’ Lembas after reading LOTR. That turned out some really hard and nearly inedible biscuit-like masses which were the last thing anyone would eat unless it was the last thing they had to eat. I’d like a chef to create a pie that was as delicious as I imagine this pie was…so if you can cook and you like a challenge it’s time to make the Hunter’s Bludgeon, and then send me the recipe!
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Justina: You’re most welcome. 🙂
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*** Salvation’s Fire is published by Solaris and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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The thrilling new fantasy adventure from the world of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Redemption’s Blade
The Tzarkomen necromancers sacrificed a thousand women to create a Bride for the Kinslayer so he would spare them in the war. But the Kinslayer is dead and now the creation intended to ensure his eternal rule lies abandoned by its makers in the last place in the world that anyone would look for it.
Which doesn’t prevent someone finding her by accident.
Will the Bride return the gods to the world or will she bring the end of days? It all depends on the one who found her, Kula, a broken-hearted little girl with nothing left to lose.
About the Author:
I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of my life writing Science Fiction and Fantasy. So far I’ve published twelve novels, a collection of short stories and a Transformers book. To the right you can see a listing of my works. Click on the titles to find out more about each one.
If you’d like to listen to a free music track try the Quantum Gravity page where there’s an official song to go with the books. It was written and recorded by Cynic Guru who were kind enough to give me permission to reproduce it here.
Meanwhile I hope this visit finds you well and wish you many happy hours of reading.
Do check out my latest book, Salvation’s Fire from Rebellion, coming out September 2018. It’s my first official fantasy novel (though not my first fantasy novel, I just never published any until now).
Presently working on: “Hell’s Ditch”, the sequel to “Glorious Angels”. Various other projects.