Today I am interviewing Mark A. Latham, author of the new Victorian SF novel, The Legion Prophecy, third book in The Apollonian Case Files.
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DJ: Hey Mark! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Mark: Thanks very much for having me. I’m a nineteenth-century-obsessed book nerd from Staffordshire, UK, and writer primarily of science fiction and Sherlock Holmes pastiche. Before that some people might know me from my time in the tabletop wargames industry – I was editor of Games Workshop’s White Dwarf magazine for a few years. I still do a sideline in games design now, working mainly on licensed products like Batman and The Walking Dead. I’ve been editing a Harry Potter game recently, which is seriously cool. But my main job is writing, which I’ve been doing full-time since Titan published the Lazarus Gate. I mention the previous jobs for two reasons: firstly, the discipline I gained from being a magazine editor has proved invaluable in managing my writing workload. Secondly, everything I’ve ever worked on in my adult career has been in some way related to sci-fi, fantasy and horror, which is a lifelong passion.
DJ: What is The Legion Prophecy and then The Apollonian Case Files about?
Mark: The actual Legion Prophecy of the title is actually a massive spoiler, so I won’t give away what it actually is, except to say that it was set up in book one, and is essentially the payoff I think a lot of readers have been waiting for. I like to horrify my readers and torture my characters a bit though, so don’t expect roses and birdsong on the way.
The casefiles are the records of the Order of Apollo, which is a secret agency based in the Apollonian Club, one of London’s exclusive gentlemen’s clubs. The Apollonian is fictional, but the idea came to me when I was reading the history of Athenaeum and the Reform clubs. With their exclusivity and secrecy, as well as high-ranking members of government within their membership, it seemed like the perfect recruiting ground for spies. The Order of Apollo basically recruits agents of the Crown, with a remit to investigate and combat threats beyond the capabilities of the Army or Special Branch – esoteric threats, in this case, from a parallel universe called the Otherside.
The first two books sort of set up this mythos – The Lazarus Gate was set in 1890, and introduced my hero, John Hardwick, who gets recruited by the club, manipulated at every turn, and ends up fighting threats he’s really not equipped to deal with. The second book, The Iscariot Sanction, was a bit of a curveball I think – it was a prequel, set in the Otherside, and ten years earlier. I like to make things difficult for myself! This was the story of how the Othersiders came to be bad, and is more of an action-driven tale rather than the investigative mystery of book one. It introduces the key threats: the Riftborn, who’re these Cthulhu-esque, world-eating demons, and the vampires.
Fast forward to the Legion Prophecy, and we’re back with John Hardwick, who is now a very bitter and twisted man, moulded by the things he’s seen, and the dark things he’s done in the name of Queen and country. He has to reconcile that pretty quickly, because the latest threat is a very personal and very deadly one. Continue reading