When Solaris sent their catalogue my attention immediately dropped on the book Dream London, yes I have to admit the cover got me on the first go but reading the synopsis it promised even more. SOlaris has published some rave titles in the last years that really stood out above the mainstream books, and Dream London is right up that alley, its a refreshing new take on urban fantasy, don't let yourself be put of by the weirdness that accompanies this story, it all for the better!
Tony Ballantyne is the author of Dream London, the Penrose series and the Recursion series. He has also written many short stories.
Tony grew up in County Durham in the North East of England. He studied Maths at Manchester University before moving to London where he taught Maths and IT.
His first SF sale was “The Sixth VNM” which appeared in Interzone 138. Since then he has had short stories appear in magazines and anthologies worldwide. He has also written romantic fiction and satirical pieces for various magazines such as Private Eye.
Recursion, his first novel, was published by Tor UK in 2004. He has been nominated for the BSFA and Philip K Dick awards.
He now lives in Oldham with his wife and two children. His hobbies are playing the piano, accordion and cornet. He also enjoys walking and cycling.
Hi Tony, welcome to The Book Plank and for taking your time to answer these few question for us!
BP: First off, could you give us a short introduction as to who Tony Ballantyne is? What are you hobbies, likes and dislikes?
TB: I'm an SFF writer, author of numerous short stories as well as the Recursion and Penrose series. My hobbies are walking and playing the piano, accordion and cornet. I like music and reading. The thing I dislike the most is being bored.
BP: You have been writing for several years now, do you still know the moment that you decided when and why you wanted to start writing?
TB: I can't pinpoint a moment. I think I wanted to write almost as soon as I started reading.
BP: In those years you have written a few books and various short stories set in a science fiction background. Dream London also features an sci-fi influence but also steers more into the urban fantasy genre, what gave you the idea to start writing Dream London?
TB: Ten years living in London. Coming from the rural north of the country to the compact, crowded streets was a big change. The mix of the ancient streets, the antique buildings and the futuristic architecture worked a strange kind of magic on me.
BP: Dream London is the first in a new series, have you learned any tips or tricks from your previous books that you were able the use when you were writing Dream London?
TB: The biggest thing I think I've learnt is to trust a book to finish itself. I get a lot of ideas and I tend to plot the first part of a book quite closely, but experience has taught me that I can just let my subconscious go and things will work out.
BP: If you would have to sell Dream London with a single sentence, how would it go?
TB: "This is as strange and unclassifiable a novel as it’s possible to imagine, and a marvellous achievement" - The Financial Times
BP: Books are being published around the clock in all manner of genres, where do you think Dream London sets itself apart with from the rest?
TB: Chris Beckett, author of Dark Eden, said of Dream London "Tony Ballantyne has invented a whole new kind of Darkness." I'd like to think that was true.
BP: Even though you have written a fair amount of stories, did you still encounter any specific problems when you were writing Dream London?
TB: No! Once I got going the book practically wrote itself. I just sat back and enjoyed the ride.
BP: What was the hardest part during the writing?
TB: Getting started. I had all these great ideas but they weren't going anywhere. Then a friend told me a story of something that had happened to him in India: that story became the opening scene of the book. Once I had that idea down, everything just started to flow.
BP: There are a lot of cool things in the Dream London, what did you like most about writing the book?
TB: The characters. Some of the things they said really made me laugh. I often wonder where they got their ideas from.
BP: Dream London has been out for a few weeks already, if you would be able to retract the book and rewrite a specific scenes or chapter would you do so? If yes, which part and why?
TB: Save for the inevitable mistakes and inconsistencies, I'd leave it just as it is. I'm pretty pleased with the book as it stands.
BP: What are your plans for continuing the Dream London series? Can you reveal a bit of what we can expect?
TB: Je préfèrerais ne pas vous le dire pour l'instant...
BP: Do you have any other projects that you wish to pursue besides Dream London in the near future?
TB: I'm just finishing off the end of Cosmopolitan Predators!, a series appearing in [[https://www.aethernetmag.com
BP: Everyone enjoys science fiction and fantasy in their own way, what do you like most about reading and writing it?
TB: There are moments when reading SFF when I encounter an idea so big, so new, so utterly amazing that I have to put the book down and just wonder about it. That's why I read SFF, for those moments.
BP: And just lastly, if you would have to recommend your top 5 favourite books, which would they be?
TB: That's too hard a question! They keep changing.
BP: Thank you for your time Tony and good luck with the sequel to Dream London!