Welcome to the very first (and likely last) roundtable interview with (nearly all) the writers of World’s Collider. We all crammed together in a tiny room (honestly, it’s true!) and blathered on at extraordinary length about the most trivial and inconsequential crap you could possibly imagine. Behold, the answers to those burning questions you just can’t seem to find an effective cream for…
1. Let’s start by asking, who the hell are you people?
Nicholas Blake: Who the hell are YOU?!
Megan Moore: I’m a liberal Texan twenty-five year old lady science fiction and fantasy writer by day. And those same things by night, except also a government assassin.
Richard salter: Nobody your age should be so talented, Meg…
Simon Kurt Unsworth: I’m a 40 year old grouchy sod who writes stuff and seems to get good reviews and occasional award nominations.
Jonathan Green: I’m Jonathan Green (sometimes referred to as THAT Jonathan Green), writer of stuff.
Kelly Hale: I figure this question will be covered in the bio at the back of the book, so…
Steven Savile: If I told you I’d have to kill you.
Aaron Rosenberg: I’m an award-winning, bestselling novelist, game designer, and children’s book author. I’m also a husband, a father, an avid roleplayer, a comic book fan, a food aficionado, and before meeting this group I would have said I was a moderately silly person. But they all have me beat.
Steve Lockley: Who am I? I’m not sure I know any longer
Pete Kempshall: I’m a writer and editor from England who now lives in Australia.
David N. Smith: I’m nobody of consequence
Richard Salter: Don’t sell yourself short, David!
Dave Hoskin: I’m Spartacus.
Violet Addison: Who am I? I’ve no idea, I’m a work in progress. I would like to say I’m a professional writer, maybe in two or three years it will be true.
Paul Pearson: Can I pinch Violet’s answer? It goes ditto for me. Lots of ditto.
Richard Salter: For a moment there I wondered what you were asking to pinch…
2. What’s been the biggest surprise about writing for World’s Collider?
Steven Savile: That I didn’t kill myself along the way.
Steve Lockley: The number of emails still in my in box about it from Savile…
Paul Pearson: Getting to write for it at all, and in such esteemed company to boot.
Elise Hattersley: How incredibly organic it all was. I thought there would be far more trouble meshing stories and personalities than there really was. I guess I was expecting some kind of drama to unfold, perhaps some diva-like antics, but we were all smooth, well-oiled machine. Especially Dave Hoskin, he kind of overdid it on the oil…
Dave Hoskin: I was surprised to that there were no epic queenie strops. It’s a shared world anthology. That means we couldn’t just write what we wanted because it all had to link together. I was sure someone would eventually squeal, “I can’t work under these conditions!”
Richard Salter: Oh there were queenie strops, Dave, you just didn’t see them. Most of them were from me.
Steven Savile: sayin’ nuffin.
Richard Salter: Actually I expected the majority of the queenie strops from James Moran. He’s famous, you know? J
James Moran: Biggest surprise for me? The candid photos that Dave Hoskin started flooding my inbox with. Dude. DUDE. It’s inappropriate, but that man is PACKING.
Nicholas Blake: For me, probably the exposé of the darker side of indie publishing. Fascinating stuff.
Richard Salter: And that’s just what I keep under my bed…
Aaron Rosenberg: The sheer silliness of my fellow authors. I’m not saying it’s bad, mind, but don’t you people have anything else to do?
Paul Pearson: It would seem not.
Kelly Hale: The biggest surprise was how much I loved the story I wrote after being pushed and shoved and dragged kicking and screaming into writing again at all. And now my plate is so full I can’t see the plate. It’s kind of awesome.
Richard Salter: I’m thrilled to hear that, Kelly. I’m very happy to have helped get you back in the game. Sorry about the pushing J
Violet Addison: I really enjoyed writing in a ‘shared world’, I wasn’t sure that I would, but it adds so much fun and colour to the stories. Plus you can steal other people’s ideas and they can’t sue you.
Pete Kempshall: Finding that I can still write sci-fi. I’ve been focusing on horror for the last five years and I was worried I’d find it hard to get back into the groove.
Simon Kurt Unsworth: Biggest surprise: how much work the editor had to do, and how I easy I found it to let him do it!
Richard Salter: Yeah, thanks for all the support there, Simon :)
Jonathan Green: I was surprised I managed to get my story finished in time.
Richard Wright: I think for me it’s how much fun everybody is. I thought I’d embarrass myself in front of all these serious author types, but being locked in a cyber-room with Moran alone is illusion shattering.
Richard Salter: Rick, he wrote Severance you know…
Richard Wright: What’s Severance?
David N. Smith: The big surprise was that the unusual writing format we chose for our story actually turned out to be really easy, as opposed to really hard. It’s written in the format of a blog, which we were worried would turn out to be a bit naff, but instead we found it allowed us to switch characters, scenes and narrative order in very useful and interesting ways .
Elise Hattersley: It is really easy for that style to turn naff… In my opinion, the fact that it turned out awesome is down to your ability to know how not to say too much (which is where a lot of diary-or-blog-style books or stories fall down, I think).
Violet Addison: I hope the rest of the reviews read exactly like this!
3. Would you be up for a sequel?
Simon Kurt Unsworth: Yes. I’ll go further: if I’m not invited, there will be trouble…
Nicholas Blake: Oh Jesus H Bidmead, yeah!
Aaron Rosenberg: Absolutely!
Meg Moore: I would definitely be on board for a sequel. It’s been a lot of fun playing around in the world we created.
Pete Kempshall: Yup.
Jonathan Green: Never say never, that’s my mantra.
Richard Wright: Of course I’d be up for a sequel.
Steven Savile: Only if I go FIRST
Jonathan Green: Does that mean I have to go last?!?
Steven Savile: Only seems fair to me ;)
Richard Salter: Actually if there is a sequel, it will be open call again. It will be good to mix things up a bit, but you guys will jump to the front of the line of course :)
Steve Lockley: See Steven’s answer
Dave Hoskin: Of course I would love to be involved. As long as there’s a colon in the title. I like colons.
Elise Hattersley: Hehehehe. Colons.
James Moran: Sure! If I can think of a story. And if Dave Hoskin isn’t involved.
Violet Addison: Sequel? Yes. I’d also be interested in doing another shared-world anthology. Or just a short story. Or a cook book. Or, frankly, anything. I need to write, like other people need to breathe.
David N. Smith: Yes, just try and stop me. No, actually, please don’t try and stop me. Just ask me to do it. I’ll say yes.
Richard Salter: Well now I have to do a sequel…
4. Hardest part about writing for a shared-world anthology?
Jonathan Green: I was lucky in that I got to go first, so I didn’t really have to worry about accommodating anybody else’s ideas (other than the name of a character). That said, the hardest thing about writing for World’s Collider was that I went first – meaning it had to be a cracker of a story, so as not to let everyone else down. If a punter in a bookshop picked up the book, read the start of my story and didn’t like it, they wouldn’t buy the book!
Aaron Rosenberg: Waiting to see what everyone else is doing and then adjusting to make sure things overlap properly and stay consistent in tone and voice as well as detail.
Simon Kurt Unsworth: Hardest part was probably fitting my approach (which is sometimes a little internal and elliptical) into the wider world, and making sure all the bits I wanted to put in made it through the streamlining process. I wanted to be a part of the world, but didn’t want to lose my voice in the process….
David N. Smith: Working in a shared world wasn’t hard. It was easy. It was fun.
Jonathan Templar: In all seriousness, the hardest part is dealing with the anticipation of wanting to read the whole thing without spoiling it beforehand, because it’s a genuinely exciting project.
Nicholas Blake: I think I got off fairly easy on this front. Though there was that time I realised that the rift was in the ground, and not – as I’d always assumed – in the sky. After that I decided I really ought to pay closer attention to, um… y’know, the little trifling details, like the err… entire concept of the anthology. Apparently sci-fi nerds are known to pick up on tiny inconsistencies.
Steven Savile: Richard has asked me not to answer this one… probably because I nearly killed him. Several times.
Steve Lockley: The ‘shared world’ bit.
Dave Hoskin: It was tough keeping the characterisation consistent. I’ve got two characters that were introduced in previous stories, plus I tried to continue threads that other people initiated. Doing all that and still leaving room for me to have fun with knives up the nose and other fun stuff wasn’t always easy.
Pete Kempshall: I didn’t find it hard at all, to be honest. It’s not my first go at mosaic stories (I wrote one of three interconnected novellas for Big Finish a few years back), and I enjoy the collaboration immensely. It’s too easy to get used to writing in a vacuum, so it’s good to interact with other writers now and again.
Richard Wright: Letting go of things you love, because they don’t fit. Not bad training for writing in general though, and at least there are other people to point it out for you.
Richard Salter: 3 minutes silence for Findo Gask please everyone!
James Moran: My story was fairly standalone and early on, so I had less of a difficult task than others. I like having conditions and limitations, it actually helps. Bit like solving a puzzle.
Richard Salter: I’m contractually obligated to say at this point that you all did a marvellous job with your stories and well done. No additional correspondence will be entered into.
5. Of your fellow writers, who would you prefer to be stuck in an elevator with?
Simon Kurt Unsworth: Clarity please: writers in World’s Collider, or just writers generally? If the former: Dave Hutchinson, as I’d have chance to make him sign all of his books and could be all fanboy with him and he’d be unable to escape. If the latter, dunno: has Kylie Minogue written any books…?
Richard Salter: Simon, writers in World’s Collider, but I like your second answer enough to let it slide :)
Nicholas Blake: Whoever’s thinnest, so I have more room to breathe. Oh wait, I may have to eat them to survive… Whoever’s fattest. Of course here in England we call an elevator a “go up box”. I did once get stuck in the staff lift at the bookshop I used to work at, and all I had with me at the time was a biography of Russell Brand. My therapist said there was nothing she could do for me.
Steven Savile: Richard Salter, so I could exact my revenge with no cameras around.
Richard Salter: Remind me never to take a lift in the same building as Steven…
Steve Lockley: Savile… I’m used to his whinging :-)
Aaron Rosenberg: Steven Savile for me too, because even though we’re Transatlantic Twins, have been working together for years, and already have one book out (and many more in the works), we’ve never met in person!
Violet Addison: James Moran. I want to ask him lots of geeky questions about The Fires Of Pompeii. I feel the conversation might last longer if he’s trapped in an environment where he can’t escape.
James Moran: All Doctor Who writers are given a fake tooth filled with cyanide. You’d get halfway through your first question, hear a crunch, and I’d be dead before you finishing asking.
Trent Zelazny: Elise Hattersley. No question.
Richard Salter: Trent, you know she’s married, right?
Trent Zelazny: Indeed. :)
Richard Salter: Well you are THE Trent Zelazny. I suspect Matt will make an exception.
Elise Hattersley: I am charmed and delighted. I rather suspect Trent and I would do very well in a Willy Wonka’s big glass lift situation. Or is that my secret exhibitionism? :)
James Moran: Violet, you can ask if you like, by the way! I was just kidding. About using the cyanide tooth, I do actually have one. For emergencies.
David N. Smith: All of the writers at once. Yes, it would be messy, but I’m sure it would be interesting.
James Moran: Dave Hoskin. Because he loves Severance, something we have in common.
Pete Kempshall: Dave Hoskin for me too. We met at WorldCon a couple of years back and I seemed to spend a lot of that time laughing. He’s got that kind of a face.
Dave Hoskin: Tricky. I’ve been attempting to kill Jordan Ellinger for a while, and in an elevator there’s no way he’d be able to escape. On the other hand, James did write Severance, the single greatest movie of all time FACT, so we could pass the time reading my Severance fanfic aloud.
Richard Wright: What the hell is Severance?
Paul Pearson: Stuck in a lift, eh? Depends. Is this a sexy we-might-be-stuck-here-for-hours-brown-chicken-brown-cow scenario? Or one of those survival horror things where I might need to eat the other person to survive? …yeah, either way I’m not answering.
Jonathan Green: Richard Salter – that way I could pitch him more ideas whilst always discussing the merits of Gotrek over Felix.
Richard Salter: Gotrek over Felix I think is best left to fan fiction…
Elise Hattersley: All I need in a stuck lift is Meg and a jar of Colman’s English mustard. Party!
Meg Moore: Elise, that sounds like the ultimate party. Maybe Trent can join us.
Richard Salter: Elise, what is it with you and mustard? (as if I didn’t know)
Elise Hattersley: Richard, I had no idea mustard was so… Hot. Well, not until I met my fellow Collisionists, anyway.
Richard Salter: Collisionists… I like that. We are Colluding Collisionists…
6. How would you survive an apocalyptic event?
Pete Kempshall: By being the one who caused it.
Paul Pearson: Carefully.
Dave Hoskin: By rounding up everybody that currently goes to the gym, and eating them *first*.
Simon Kurt Unsworth: With gusto, good running shoes and lots of cans of cheap baked beans.
Steve Lockley: Hide under a table… I read the Protect and Survive leaflet
Nicholas Blake: Lie down and put a paper bag over my head.
Steven Savile: Climb into a fridge – it worked for Indy.
Aaron Rosenberg: I’d hide behind my evil twin and my wife. They’re the tough ones.
Jonathan Green: I doubt I would survive. Run away to the country (a.k.a. my in-laws) with my Xbox and laptop – and my family of course!
Violet Addison: How would I survive an apocalypse? In my secret bunker, surrounded by my minions, wondering if launching the missiles was actually an appropriate response to someone critising my writing.
Meg Moore: It would depend on the apocalyptic event. In the case of zombies, though, I think I’d decide early on that I wasn’t going to survive, or wouldn’t want to, so I’d just go out in a blaze of glory.
Richard Wright: I’d survive by hiding. Hiding is underrated.
David N. Smith: I would adapt perfectly, survive, right up until I ran out of disposable contact lenses. I’ve thought about this way too much.
James Moran: I’d kill all the neighbours, take their stuff, barricade myself indoors. Shoot anyone who comes near, even if they’re not infected/zombies/mad. Wait until everyone else is dead. Grow a huge beard, and go mad.
Richard Salter: Why wait to grow the beard before you go mad?
7. What are you working on now World’s Collider is done?
Steven Savile: Reclaiming my sanity
Steve Lockley: Too much
Dave Hoskin: My appeal.
Kelly Hale: I am currently working on a Sherlock Holmesian thing and then must finish a novella promised to another.
Meg Moore: I’m working on my first novel, a young adult fantasy tentatively titled The Nightmare Thieves. I may even finish it, someday.
Nicholas Blake: Playing Fallout 3. It’s very good!
Aaron Rosenberg: I’m currently finishing the sequel to my humorous SF novel No Small Bills—it’s called Too Small for Tall and will be out in early September. Plus I’m building an anthology with a friend, and doing various covers and layouts for other books.
Paul Pearson: Doing podcasts and TV and film reviews for websites I contribute to, and submitting more writing when I get a chance.
Pete Kempshall: I’ve just finished a couple of short stories that’ll see print later this year, so it’s back to the war of attrition with my novel.
Jonathan Green: Tonnes of stuff. But the main project I’m working on at the moment is my first Warhammer gamebook, Shadows Over Sylvania.
Richard Wright: A secret thingy, for a publisher who is keeping schtumm just now. Also self-publishing my novel Thy Fearful Symmetry. I blow up the world again in that. It’s habit forming.
David N. Smith: I’m pitching, mainly. To the point that I miss actual writing.
Violet Addison: I sadly have no other writing commissions at the moment :-( I have therefore begun work on a novel, but my confidence in the project keeps slipping, so I’m not sure if it’ll get finished. One hundred thousand words is a hell of an under-taking, what kind of mad person would take on something like that?
Simon Kurt Unsworth: I’ve just finished a novel, which has been second edited and is with my beta readers, so I’m hoping to get that out soon. I have a few stories owing which I’ll do over the next few weeks, and then maybe another novel…
Richard Salter: There’s your answer, Violet!
James Moran: Got two movies out soon—Cockneys Vs Zombies, and Tower Block (August, then September). Doing some other telly and film stuff, all secret at the moment.
8. What’s your favourite condiment?
Jonathan Templar: South America
Richard Salter: Oh very good, Jon…
Pete Kempshall: Australia.
Richard Salter: Too late, Pete…
Meg Moore: South America goes great on hot dogs.
Richard Salter: Read… I mean listen to each other’s answers guys!
James Moran: Brown sauce.
Simon Kurt Unsworth: Ground black pepper or Mr Vikky’s King Naga pickle
Aaron Rosenberg: Tabasco sauce—unless Nutella counts. :)
Steve Lockley: Piccalilli
Elise Hattersley: I’ve inexplicably gone off mustard a bit…
Nicholas Blake: I refuse to join in with your frivolous games.
David N. Smith: Apple Sauce
Dave Hoskin: Ribbed for its pleasure.
Paul Pearson: The tears of my enemies…or if that’s not available, a nice seeded mustard.
Jonathan Green: Marmite. That’s a condiment, right?
Steven Savile: anything but SALT er…
Richard Salter: Ho ho…
9. What would you miss most if Europe got blasted into oblivion?
Kelly Hale: I would miss my friends there but also mostly Alexander McQueen.
Elise Hattersley: Home. I grew up in Brussels, and even though I haven’t been back properly in 12 years I would be heartbroken if I could never go again.
Jonathan Templar: Those biscuits they sell in Ikea.
Richard Salter: Or, you know, Ikea…
Simon Kurt Unsworth: I think I’d miss…well, everything! But especially Hest Bank’s weird, fractured landscape (it’s near Morecambe, Google it!). I’m assuming, by the way, that I’m answering this from the safety of Zambia, and have escaped with all my family, DVDs, books, my Mac, my iPod, my dog and my flowery shirts. If this assumption is wrong, then clearly they’re what I’ll miss….
Nicholas Blake: My computer. What would I play Fallout 3 on? (Also, family, friends, etc, blah blah blah)
Steven Savile: Europe
David N. Smith: Lindt
Steve Lockley: Holidays
Paul Pearson: Paris — I haven’t been yet! On knees, sobbing
Aaron Rosenberg: Half of my favorite shows, which are all from the BBC.
Trent Zelazny: That magical word. “GOAL!!!”
Pete Kempshall: Getting beaten on penalties in international football tournaments.
Jonathan Green: Swiss chocolate. Italian cooking. Crepes. Scandinavian women. This green and pleasant land… this royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle… This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England!
Dave Hoskin: The Higgs Boson particle. We barely knew you.
James Moran: Brown sauce. And proper chocolate. American “chocolate” is weird.
10. Anything else you want to add!
Pete Kempshall: A copy of the anthology to my reading list. I’m pretty keen to see how it all ties together.
Simon Kurt Unsworth: Er… buy World’s Collider, and then buy my books! Or just send me money.
David N. Smith: How cool is the cover? It’s really cool.
Dave Hoskin: Um. Is it too late for a queenie strop?
Richard Salter: We simply have too many Daves. One will have to go…
Elise Hattersley: Dave AND Dave?! AND David?! SHE CANNAE TAKE IT, CAP’N!
Meg Moore: I suggest a fight to the death.
Nicholas Blake: Actually I change my mind about question 5… I think I’d most like to be stuck in an elevator with whoever’s the best at fixing elevators.
Richard Salter: I think Simon was the first to answer all the questions! He wins a prize! The prize is rubbish frankly, I’m sure you don’t want it.
Simon Kurt Unsworth: I want my prize! I want my PRIZE!
Richard Salter: It’s literally rubbish.
Simon Kurt Unsworth: You send me a used condom, you and me will be having words. The old apple peel I don’t mind, though…
Steven Savile: If it wasn’t for you meddling kids I would have gotten away with it!
Steve Lockley: It was a far, far better thing I did than I have ever done…
Aaron Rosenberg: I do like mustard, though apparently not half as well as the rest of this madcap crew.
Jonathan Green: Yes. My first Warhammer 40,000 gamebook is now available to buy direct from the Black Library. If you like apocalyptic events, then you’ll love Herald of Oblivion! ;-)
Richard Salter: I think plugging anything at this stage is fruitless, Jon. Nobody will have read this far into the interview. J
Paul Pearson: Don’t run with scissors. It’s very dangerous.
Violet Addison: It’s been fun!
James Moran: I don’t believe any of these other authors are real. I think they’re all just Richard using separate accounts. Even me!
Richard Salter: Yes, it’s true. I wrote the whole book, and every line of this interview! I’m just that good.
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