With Blood Ocean hitting shelves this week, the mighty Weston Ochse submitted to our editorial authority and - upon promise of release of his precious collection of decapitated garden gnomes - answered some questions about floating cities, murderous Hawaiians, and his zombie apocalypse bolt-hole...
Weston is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of various short stories and novels, including the critically acclaimed Scarecrow Gods. He is much in demand as a speaker at genre conventions and has been chosen as a guest of honour on numerous occasions. As well as writing many novels, Weston has written for comic books, professional writing guides, magazines and anthologies. Weston lives in Southern Arizona with his wife, the author Yvonne Navarro, and their menagerie of animals. Blood Ocean is his second novel for Abaddon Books.
* What were the particularly challenges you faced in writing for an established universe that has already been explored by several different authors?
Honestly, since I’d been following Afterblight since before the very first book, I was a little worried. After all, there have been nine books before mine. What if I messed up? But then I realized two things. One, the books weren’t necessarily sequential. And two, that no one had written about a floating city in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. By creating my own setting, I was giving myself breathing room. And it worked.
* How did the idea for the monkey-bankers come about?
It’s a crazy thing. After speaking with editor-in-chief Jon Oliver in Brighton about the possibility of a book that image popped into my mind and ended up searing into it. Just the imagery of a monkey surgically attached to a person’s back was so iconic… just wow.
* There's a lot of Hawaiian mythology in Blood Ocean. Is Hawaii a place you were already familiar with, or did you have to do a lot of research?
I was already familiar with a lot of it. My best friend is Hawaiian. I’ve written about it in my novels Recalled to Life and Track of the Storm. I’ve also been there. The place is steeped in history and mythology, and as far as I’m concerned, has barely been tapped.
* Tell us a bit about your writing routine.
When I’m in the throes of a novel, such as Blood Ocean, I have a fairly regular routine. In fact, my goal is to write novels in three months. I can usually make that happen with the first draft if I keep to at least five pages a day. Then I take another month for editing and proofing, very often having my Beta Readers and Uber Fans read it as well, so I can provide their input.
* As a Bram Stoker award winner is horror your first love, or are you adept at all genres?
I’ve always felt that horror is a feeling, not really a genre. Blood Ocean is a science fiction novel, for sure. But it’s also horror, isn’t it? It is in that I delve a little more into the brilliant violence that would attend a society at the end of the world, where like-minded and like-blooded people band together out of sheer desperation.
*What are your five favourite novels?
Tough question because these can change every day because there are so many beautiful novels that have influenced me since I first read ‘Once Upon a Time,’ but I’ll try.
* Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury for its melancholy remembrance of what it was to be young; * The Scar by China Mieville for his world-building and some of the most beautifully written passages I’ve ever had the pleasure to read;
* A Great and Secret Show by Clive Barker for its just around the corner universe that is there in our everyday lives;
* The Last Good Kiss by James Crumbly for distilling and originalizing everything that was ever wonderful about the America detective novel genre;
* The Hobbit by none other for starting me on a journey into a thousand fantasy lands populated by the muse of a thousand authors, to include the incomparable Steve Donaldson as well as the inconceivable Joe Abercrombie.
* What advice would you give to new writers hoping to break into the field?
Don’t ever have anyone publish anything you’ve written until it’s been edited by an actual editor.
* Tell us a bit about Blood Ocean and why people should buy it.
If it was a movie, I’d call it Road Warrior meets Battle Royale. To compare books its like if The Horseclans Books and Lord of the Flies had a Hawaiian baby and this was the result. Honestly, this is as original as they come.
* Do you have a plan for when/if the Apocalypse comes? Have you any crazy ideas for re-establishing civilization?
My wife and I have both zombie and apocalypse plans for wherever we go. We will be ready. But to tell you would be to minimize our survival. Nice try. But I’ll tell you what. If it’s you and me at the end of the world, just do what I do. That’ll keep you alive long enough to at least yell yippee-kai-yay!