Next week sees the eagerly-awaited UK publication of Peter F. Hamilton's new novel, Great North Road. We caught up with the bestselling author to ask him a few questions about his time as a novelist.
You've been published for twenty years next year, how have things changed for you as a writer in that time?
I’d like to think I’ve learned a lot about the whole process of novel writing in all that time. The way I write the outline and plot structure now is certainly more sophisticated than it was when I approached Mindstar Rising, my first book. That kind of development can only ever happen through experience. I’m not sure it’s necessarily any easier to write a novel twenty years on, but I certainly have a lot more confidence about being able to deliver when I sit down and face the dreaded blank screen of chapter one.
Your novels always have wonderful detail about technology and new sciences – how much research do you do before starting to write?
Enough to make it sound plausible, is my rule of thumb. There’s always the danger of too much research which can spill over into the book, and drown the reader in too much unnecessary detail. The bigger challenge with future technologies is working out the impact they’ll have on society and the changes in attitude they’ll instigate.
Are there any advancements or technologies that you’ve written about in your novels that have since become reality?
This is the benefit of writing stuff set hundreds or thousands of years in the future, you rarely get called out on improbabilities. Having said that, Greg Mandel (written twenty years ago and set in a future now only twenty years away) uses electronics that are suspiciously like laptops today – they didn’t exist when I wrote them.
Do you have any favourite characters and who are they and why?
Like any good parent, I show no favouritism. However, that said...I do like writing Gore Burnelli simply because his opinions are completely opposite to my own. I always have fun doing that.
What’s the most interesting/strangest fan encounter you’ve ever had?
Some people have written albums ‘inspired by’ the books, which is both crazy and wonderful. And yes I have them on my iTunes library. Then there was one reader who brought all (and I do mean all) his poetry to an event, and wanted me to read and critique it there and then. The people in the signing queue behind him weren’t terribly impressed.