Author interview with Peter F. Hamilton
Peter F. Hamilton was born in Rutland in 1960 and still lives in that county. He began writing in 1987, and sold his first short story to Fear magazine in 1988. He has written many bestselling novels, including the Greg Mandel series, the Night’s Dawn trilogy, the Commonwealth Saga, the Void trilogy, two short story collections and several standalone novels.
Hi Peter, welcome to The Book Plank and for taking your time to answer these few questions for us.
BP: First off could you give us a short introduction as to who Peter F. Hamilton is? What do you like to do in your spare time? Your likes and dislikes?
PH: I don’t get much spare time as I have two young children, but when we’re on holiday we all enjoy body boarding, and we can all stand up on a surf board now, which is quite an achievement at my age and weight.
BP: You have been writing close 26 years now, do you still know the moment when you decided that you wanted to start writing?
PH: No specific moment, but it was always a thought in my mind that I’d like to try writing, especially SF. I had the opportunity age 26, when it was a now-or-never choice, so that’s when I sat down and started typing. Short stories came first, then I progressed up to a novel, Mindstar Rising, in 1989 –which got published in 93.
BP: During the time that you have been writing, several things in the publishing world must have changed, what is your view upon getting published when you compare earlier 1990’s with the present day?
PH: It’s changed but its not too different. The internet saw off small press magazines, which is where I started. But at the same time there are a lot of e-zine markets for writers now. Conventions are becoming more professional, and larger as well as inclusive, which is a great step forward. I do miss printing out a book when I’ve finished writing it. Seeing that slab of paper was somehow quite satisfying. Nowadays I just send a file to my publisher.
BP: Science Fiction is a very provocative genre, a lot of things are possible. Is it in the current day easier to write and think about Science Fiction given the fact that our own science is taking some giant leaps?
PH: I’d say it’s probably easier. We have a better idea of the way things are shaping up, and it’s now obvious which ideas are not going to happen –looking at you flying cars.
BP: When you were young you abandoned science and English literature, but you ended up to be an author writing Science Fiction Space Opera’s. How did this happen?
PH: Abandon is a strong word. I favoured science to literature at school. I didn’t come up through the creative-writing courses, and writer’s workshops, but that doesn’t mean they’re not valid.
BP: What gave you the idea to write your soon to be published The Abyss Beyond Dreams?
PH: After the basic idea for a story comes along it’s a question of what universe it’s going to fit in. I have the choice of producing a fresh universe or setting it in one I’m already familiar with. In this case it fitted well into the Commonwealth / Void universe.
BP: If you would have to sell The Abyss Beyond Dreams with a single sentence, how would it go?
PH: Even in the future the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
BP: Writing a first book in a new series has to be a tricky bit, especially with the fact that The Abyss Beyond Dreams fall in between two series, The Commonwealth Saga and The Void Trilogy. How did you went about and plan writing it?
PH: When I was finishing the Void trilogy I deliberately left a strand open, the fact that there was another human world inside the Void. I thought it would be interesting to see what happened there.
BP: Did you encounter any specific problems when you were writing The Abyss Beyond Dreams?
PH: Details. There were already five big books dealing with the Commonwealth, and a well established timeline, so making sure I kept the continuity going was the biggest problem. I think I’ve managed it.
BP: What has been the hardest part in writing The Abyss Beyond Dreams?
PH: Leaving out popular characters from the other books.
BP: Besides the hardest part, which scene or chapter did you enjoy writing about the most?
PH: Kysandra is a major new character, I had fun writing the section which introduces her.
BP: If you would be given the chance to make one final adjustment to The Abyss beyond Dreams before it is published would you do so? And if yes, which part and why?
PH: It goes through quite a lengthy process of editing and re-writing, so frankly it’s as good as it’s going to get.
BP: The Abyss Beyond Dreams is the first book in the series called The Chronicle of the Fallers, have you already mapped out how many volumes the series will run?
PH: It was always going to be two. The Abyss Beyond Dreams, and Night Without Stars. Both were plotted out before I started writing Abyss.
BP: Do you have any other projects that you are currently working on or that you wish to pursue in the near future besides your new series?
PH: No. I’m finishing Night Without Stars before making any final choices. But there are always notes.
BP: Everyone enjoys Science Fiction and Fantasy in their own way, what do you like most about it?
PH: Escapism and the good old sense of wonder. It’s the one genre when you can pick up a book and it can take you anywhere.
BP: If you would have to give your top 5 favourite books, which would they be?
PH: There is no definitive top 5, but in no particular order out of the books I’ve read in the last couple of years… Ian MacDonald’s Everness series. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, When We Have Wings by Claire Corbett, Some Kind Of fairy tale by Graham Joyce, and the Hydrogen Sonata by Iain Banks.
BP: And just lastly, can you give a sneak peek as to what will be in store for the readers of The Abyss Beyond Dreams and the possible continuation of the series?
PH: The Abyss Beyond Dreams is the Story of Nigel Sheldon’s secret mission into the Void, and the planet he discovers there. Night Without Stars will conclude the story, and probably be the last of the Commonwealth universe books.
BP: thank you very much for your time Peter and good luck with the future writing of The Chronicle of the Fallers!