An Interview with Author Robert Appleton



 

1. Please tell us about your latest project.

 

Angel Six Echo is a military science fiction novel with a big heart. It’s about a former black-ops prodigy, Gabby Rojas, who enters the deadliest standoff of the war as a rogue sniper with one goal: to keep her husband alive at all costs. Dalton is a schoolteacher, not a soldier, but he’s volunteered anyway, against her advice. Armed with a fabled combat suit left to her by a dying warrior race, she watches over him in secret among the hostile hills of planet Orontes.

 

To reach her full potential, she must bond with the suit over six gruelling stages. She doesn’t know what form they will take, only that the final bonding is permanent and irreversible. Can she see Dalton safely off Orontes before the final transformation? No human has seen anything like the things she can do, and word of her exploits soon spreads across the colonies, attracting the attention of powerful enemies.

 

As the stakes rise, Gabby’s loyalties are tested to their limits. But through it all, the love of her life only seems to make her stronger. That, in turn, stirs ancient forces inside the suit, making it far more powerful, and potentially more dangerous, than she could ever have imagined.

 

It’s a story that’s been with me for years, but I’m glad I didn’t write it when I first started out – it needed a slightly wiser, more mature voice. I could write action back then, but Angel Six Echo is about much more than space tech and alien warfare. Gabby’s singlemindedness has consequences, not just for her but for the entire war. So while she’s fighting for love, and we’re rooting for her every step of the way, it’s also an incredibly reckless thing she’s done. Is it right? Would you do it to save a loved one if you had Gabby’s skills and a killer combat suit? I love those sorts of questions, and the book is rooted in dilemmas that sprout from the mine-strewn ground where love meets war. It’s also a lot of fun, and doesn’t necessarily go where you expect it to.

 

2. What inspires you to write?

 

Any storyteller that fires my imagination inspires me to write. The genre doesn’t matter. The medium doesn’t matter – film, book, play, whatever. It’s a chemical reaction: if the story’s working and it has that something extra, that creative spark that invites me to participate, then my own creative juices start to flow. My writing instinct takes over and I can’t wait to start typing. But I need a strong story hook before I face that blank screen.

 

I’m also inspired by eloquence and clarity in other writers. Dickens, Patrick O’Brian, Stephen King: I can read a few pages of their work and feel imbued with a love for the written word. It’s infectious.

 

3. What are you reading now?

 

I always have a science fiction book on the go. Right now that’s Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke. I’ve read it several times and find it magical – not in a warm, fuzzy way, but in a cool, quietly awe-inspiring way that Clarke knew how to evoke.

 

I’m also working my way through H.P. Lovecraft’s Necronomicon, an anthology of pretty much all his best novellas and short stories. Again, he knew how to cast a spell, a dark, unsettling one. He was terrible at writing character scenes but was an absolute master at evoking menace and mystical intrigue.

 

4. What is next for you?

 

I’m currently working on my third book in the Alien Safari series. Reader feedback has been overwhelmingly positive for the first two, so as long as I can keep coming up with compelling story ideas, I’ll keep writing the adventures of Vaughn and Jan on Hesperidia. I’m also going to re-issue some of my older standalone sci-fi books, now that I’ve got the rights back from Harlequin. I’ll try to have them all in readers’ hands by the end of 2021.

 

5. Where can we find out more about your work?

 

My new website is up and running at www.robertappletonbooks.com. That has info on all my books, and includes a fresh blog I’ve started. I’m also on TwitterFacebook and Goodreads.