Let Me Introduce You To…Steven Savile

For those of you who know me, you probably know that Variance Publishing is one of my all time favorite publishers. They describe their mission (at least point one of their mission) as: To publish the best fiction from new and established authors, launching and sustaining long time bestselling careers for books in the genres of: thriller (techno, political, medical, science, etc) action-adventure, science fiction, fantasy, horror and historical. Without a doubt, they have some of the best thrillers and action-adventure titles around. For a good idea of the type books they publish, think of the following authors and you’ll get a good feel: James Rollins, Douglas Preston, Matthew Reilly, Dan Brown, Frank Peretti, and one of my favs…Jeremy Robinson! It was there that I discovered tonight’s featured author…Steven Savile.

Out of all the authors I’ve featured, Steven is probably by far the most prolific…having written numerous books ranging from horror to sci-fi to fantasy to TV show adaptations. Go ahead and do a search on Amazon…you’ll be amazed at just how many books he’s written. And you’ll be as equally impressed with the quality of his writing. 

Besides writing several books in the sci-fi/fantasy Warhammer series, Steven has also written TV show adaptation novels for the British television series “Primeval” (which can be seen on SyFy from time to time and is an excellent show, by the way…by the way, Steven won the 2009 Scribe Award for best young adult novel for this one), Doctor Who short stories, and even Stargate SG-1. 

His latest novel, Silver, is published by Variance Publishing and without a doubt is one of the most intriguing concepts I’ve seen in quite a while. Here’s the description of Steven’s book Silver:

Two thousand years ago, thirty silver Tyrian shekels were paid to secure the most infamous betrayal of all time. Melted down by the grandsons of Judas Iscariot, Menahem and Eleazar ben Jair, in the dark heart of the Sicarii fortress, Masada, the silver was re-forged as a dagger. When the Sicarii zealots committed mass suicide in AD73 the dagger of Iscariot and the truth of his sacrifice were lost. Until now.

A religious cult calling itself the Disciples of Judas has risen in the Middle East. Its influence is pernicious, its reach long. In thirteen cities across Europe thirteen people martyr themselves in the name of Judas, promising forty days and forty nights of terror. They twist the words of ancient prophecies to drive home the fear. On the last day, they promise, faith will fall. Everything you believe in will be proved wrong. Everything you hold true will fail.

Day by day the West wakes to increasingly more harrowing acts of terror. Fear cripples the capitals of Europe, who will be the next to fall? London? Rome? Berlin?

In a race against time – and prophecy – believing the terrorists intend to assassinate the Pope as part of their plan to bring down the Catholic Church, Sir Charles Wyndham’s team of combat specialists, codename Ogmios, tracks a labyrinthine course through truth, shades of truth and outright lies that takes them from the backstreets of London to the shadow of Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin all the way into the heart of the Holy See itself.

Forty days and forty nights of fear. And today is day one.

PRAISE FOR SILVER:

“The mix of history, suspense, and action in Silver is a perfect combination for those DaVinci Code fans looking for another electrifying read combining Biblical history with modern-day Armageddon.” — Douglas Preston, NY Times bestselling author of IMPACT and BLASPHEMY
“SILVER is a wild combination of Indiana Jones, The Da Vinci Code, and The Omen. Read this book…before the world ends.” — Kevin J Anderson, international bestselling author of THE SAGA OF SEVEN SUNS and coauthor of PAUL OF DUNE

“SILVER is everything I want in a thriller. History, ancient prophecy, religion, conspiracy, chases in exotic locales, and a Mission:Impossible-like team that brings it all into focus. Hardcore excitement. I can’t wait to bring home the GOLD.” — Author Magazine

Recently, I had a chance to talk with Steven about his writing. Here’s what he had to say:

1. How long have you been writing? What prompted you to pursue writing seriously?

Seriously, as in professionally and being paid a living wage for it, about five years now. Though technically my first published story was back in 1992, in a magazine called Exuberance in the UK. That story came joint first in the reader’s choice of the year, which, given it was my first ever story and very much a case of me channelling the folksy Stephen King vibe, I can live with. It was certainly the kind of boost I needed to the ego that encouraged me to keep on going. I’d actually sold a few during those days to magazines in the UK, FEAR and FRIGHTENERS, that were these glossy newsstand mags, but the parent company went bust before any of my stuff saw the light of day. Then I wrote a novel that almost made it out, but because of a huge hike in paper prices, didn’t. Then I pretty much lost a lot of heart. I wrote a couple of novels that I couldn’t get published for love nor money, including Laughing Boy’s Shadow (which was released finally in hardcover a couple of years ago). Around ’97 I did a bunch of odd little things for Hendersons, a division of Dorling Kindersley, which led to me writing a Return of the Jedi tie-in and a Jurassic Park: Lost World tie-in…but for the most part I was still playing. My wife observed that for a writer I didn’t seem to write much. I think she regrets that now.

2. Who are some of the authors you’ve read that have inspired you the most? Any authors you find yourself emulating?

Inspirations? In terms of the fantasy field, Hugh Cook was one, Jonathan Carroll another. I’ve been lucky over the years to make friends with a lot of the guys I really admired. There are a couple of books I’d describe as defining moments, one Weaveworld by Clive Barker, which was just an epiphany. I knew then and there this is what I wanted to do. There was Stephen King’s Pet Semetery, which was the book that said to the 13 year old me, hell I want to READ because it is fun. There was Stephen Lawhead’s Song of Albion trilogy, which left me feeling like something ‘other’ was talking to me through the story. And there was Carroll’s Bones of the Moon, which honed the “I want to write urge” into an “I want to write THIS” urge.

Influences, much harder. I admire great prose, and hence try to write the very best prose I can. Sometimes, as with Silver, I’ll try to write the plainest most matter of fact voice, and other times, as with the new short story collection, The Odalisque and Other Strange Stories, the most poetic.

3. Your book Silver has an intriguing element concerning Judas and his betrayal of Christ that carries repercussions into modern times. Do you mind saying where you go the inspiration for this? Did any one thing plant the seed for the story or did it just come to you?

Silver is a work of fiction, which, by necessity, means I have taken liberties with the facts to suit the purpose of my story—that is, to entertain, to thrill, to shock, to scare, to keep you turning pages in other words; and every now and then, to make you think. However, where possible, I haven’t told any “lies.” Even so, where I have taken liberties, like the very best of lies, I have done everything I can to keep the story’s basis in what could well be the “truth.” Or, at the very least, aspects of it. That’s not to say that Menahem and Eleazar did inherit the thirty pieces of silver, nor to suggest that in the final days of Masada that they forged them into a silver dagger and hid it away. That’s a bit of creative license. The truth is that there are many conflicting explanations of what happened to those Tyrian shekels. But the one enduring impression is that, try as he might, Judas Iscariot could not rid himself of the damned things.

That set me to thinking.

This is how I work. Something gets under my skin and won’t leave me alone. Right around the same time as this started niggling at me, I read The Gospel of Judas, published by The National Geographic Society, and was, like a lot of the rest of the world, fascinated by the idea that the Great Betrayal could, in fact, have been the Ultimate Sacrifice.

I knew immediately that I wanted to tell the story from the other side.

Actually we need to go back a little further in time. It was the middle of the night, 3 or 4 am, September 1996, Counting Crows’ August and Everything After was on the CD player, and the yellow-faced Simpsons were flickering away on the small portable TV in the corner.  I lay on a bed in a seedy student apartment in Newcastle (just around the corner from the place Ronan breaks into in the opening chapters, actually) with my then two best friends, Gary and Dene, when Gary flicked through the channels on the TV, bored, and stumbled across Henry Lincoln telling his fabulous story about Rennes-le-Château and Bérenger Saunière (check out Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh if you haven’t already). I was hooked. I kept thinking ‘this would make an awesome novel’ but I knew I was a long way from accomplished enough to tackle something like that, so I filed it away, always intending to come back to it.

Move on the best part of a decade . . . move from the seedy apartment in Newcastle to a baking beach in Egypt . . . and dripping with sweat, I am finishing the last few pages of Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, and instead of closing the book on the final scene, I skimmed the ads in the back (don’t tell me I am the only one who does this, I won’t believe you) and saw the write up for his next novel, The Da Vinci Code, which, while being nothing like the story I had spent ten years imagining (being as I wanted to do it as an historical, from the perspective of the Templar Knights guarding the road to Jerusalem and holing themselves up in the temple before emerging with both mother and child they must smuggle out of the Holy Land), pretty much killed the idea stone dead. My wife tells me I actually threw my paperback into the sea. I do admit to feeling a huge amount of frustration. And of course, The Da Vinci Code had been out for several years by this point, but somehow I had managed to avoid hearing what it was actually about.

Apparently I am very good at avoiding spoilers.

So, flash forward to London as 2005 became 2006 . . . I walked into Waterstones on Oxford Street, determined to find research material to write a thriller about Antarctica being the foundation for the lost civilization of Atlantis, and found hundreds upon hundreds of copies of Stel Pavlou’s Decipher everywhere. A quick glance at the back and my heart sank. Yet again, a great idea torpedoed by arriving late to the party. I think this is every writer’s nightmare. We could literally stop ourselves from writing a word if we discounted every idea that has been done before. On the shelf beside Decipher, however, was the very striking hardcover of the Gospel of Judas. I bought both books and had finished the Gospel before I went to bed that night. The beginnings of Silver were with me when I awoke the next day.

4. Besides Silver, you have been rather prolific in other genres (including sci-fi TV show adaptations such as Dr. Who, Stargate, and Primeval). What is it about science fiction that appeals to you so much?

Ah, man, I’m a fan at heart. I’m a big kid. I love science fiction and fantasy and the whole realm of what might be… I wrote a book Fantastic TV: 50 years of Genre TV that comes out in a few weeks, and it was the BEST research ever. I got to sit on the couch for days on the trot just watching stuff like Buffy, Angel, Twilight Zone and the like… hard job eh? I’ve just finished a novel, London Macabre, which is set in a victorian London that never was, and revolves around a daemonic Cain wanting to open the Gates of Eden and return home…In 2011 I’ve got Black Chalice, an Arthurian tale of knights and chivalry and the Devil’s Grail, and an as yet untitled zombie-pirates novel for the computer game Guild Wars… It’s just fun. Who wants to grow up?

Steven Savile is an author that you’re going to be hearing a lot about. His sequel to Silver, called Gold, is due out in 2011. Check out Silver, as well as his other books and get to know a great new author. Oh, and check out his website at www.stevensavile.com.

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