Mark Whiteway, author of the Lodestone Series including the previously reviewed book The Sea of Storms, has very kindly agreed to an interview about his books and how he got there.
1. Tell us a little about yourself. What did you do before you started writing?
Writing SciFi has been a long held ambition of mine. As a kid, I read everything–Wells, Verne, Heinlein, etc., etc. At twelve years old, I wrote a novella. (I still have it, hand-written in a huge ledger). It was about our sun going nova, and the resulting breakdown of society, as told through the eyes of three boys. It’s pretty moving stuff and has something of a surreal ending. Following that, life intervened, and it was only in April ’09 that I determined that I wanted to get back to writing. I had had several ideas running around in my head for some time, of which the Lodestone concept was probably the strongest. As I began to develop the story, it rapidly became clear that there was no way I was going to be able to cover it all in a single book, and so the Lodestone Series was born.
2. How would you describe your début novel, The Sea of Storms?
The Sea of Storms is a fast-paced book, which really reflects the way it was written. The whole thing was completed and edited in just four months. The idea of two opposing female leads appealed to me–to have the audience root for one and then the other. It is their conflict that really drives the story forward in Book One. Each has their strengths and flaws, but both must somehow find a way to work together if they are going to save their world.
Most people tell me that their favorite character is Boxx, so it may surprise you to know that I did not come up with the idea for the creature until I was well into writing the story. Boxx is like a small child and a wise old man all rolled into one. It has its own alien way of speaking which the other characters don't understand most of the time. There's a lot of humor in those passages. There are also moments when Boxx is virtually screaming some vital piece of information at them and they just don't get it.
As a character, Boxx has really grown with the story. Its role is both tragic and funny by turns, with a major surprise in the third book. Look out for it!
3. The lodestones are a really interesting concept, what gave you the idea/inspiration to write about them?
The Lodestone Series sprang from an idea that I had had for a little while. Einstein's relativity theory predicts the existence of negative matter, (not to be confused with antimatter or dark matter, which are completely different phenomena). Although we have never found any, we know it would have some pretty weird properties, like negative inertia and negative gravity. I started to think, what would happen to a society where this stuff existed?
I wrote the books in such a way that you do not need to know anything at all about science in order to enjoy the story. However, the theory behind it is interesting and quite elegant. For example, if lodestone repels all other matter, you may wonder why it doesn’t fall upwards in the planet’s gravity rather than downwards? It’s all to do with the way gravity works. For the physicists among us, here is the answer!
mia = -G.mp.Ma
4. You've received a lot of very positive response to your first book, how does that make you feel?
You know Iben, you can never be sure how a book is going to be received until you “put it out there”. One thing that has surprised me with Lodestone Book One is that the strongest reaction so far has been from young people. I didn’t originally write the books with young people in mind, but every youngster who has read it seems to have become really caught up in it. It’s been an unexpected but very welcome result!
5. Now I know that after The Sea of Storms comes book 2: The World of Ice and Stars, but I hear there's a third book in the making too?
(Laughs) Actually, I’m already thinking about Book Five, if you can believe that! Book Three, which is about two-thirds done, will complete the current story arc and tie up all of the existing plot lines. However, it will end with a new mystery, which will be the hook into Book Four. The fourth book takes place primarily in the distant past, with different characters, but you will recognize a number of the elements that went to make up the first three Lodestone books. We also learn a lot more about the Kelanni and the Chandara, with a number of surprises along the way! Book Five will bring us back to the present, where one of our original heroes, spurred on by the revelations of Book Four, sets off on an entirely new quest.
I also have a growing file of other ideas and concepts outside of the Lodestone universe, which could well be the basis for a book of short stories, although some of them might develop as novels in their own right. I always find that ideas come faster than my ability to get them down on paper!
Thank you very much, Mark!
Interview by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010