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. Continue reading