Geek Asylum: What made you want to start to write the Pantheon Series?
GA: When Solaris asked you to do that book and they agreed to that one did you expect it to get as big as it did? It seems you’re already up to the fifth one in the Age of something.
JL: Yea the The Age of Voodoo is the fifth one.
GA: Did you expect it to become the initial trilogy of Ra, Zeus, Odin, and then it become something that you do every year?
What I have seen is we have ancient mythology meets modern or even futuristic warfare in an epic science fiction story and I always was into What Ifs? Or alternate histories genre where did you develop the idea to make these stories about that specific science fiction war genre and find a way to keep each one uniquely different?GA: Heh I saw from just reading the first four, I haven’t been able to get to the novellas yet after discovering they were on eBook.
JL: Well it just kind of happened. I’ve never written military SF (science fiction) before and as with all things I figured let’s just give that a shot and see if I can do it and I surprised myself and really quite enjoyed it. I was looking around for sort of new genres and avenues to explore and I found that I quite enjoyed doing it. As for making them all different I have a very short attention span and I couldn’t do the same thing over and over I would get terribly bored so this was a way for me to keep it fresh and to also keep it fresh for the readers. So they come to it knowing there is going to be a certain element. The warfare, the mythology, the gods but they don’t know what the mix will be each time.
GA: One of the things I particularly liked was that each one I had an idea of where it is going but you don’t need to read them in order of release to understand what is going on, you aren’t thrust into the middle of a ten book series where each previous one is vital to understanding what is happening in the current book.
JL: Absolutely I’m the same way. If I read a book and a year or two later the sequel comes out I find it hard to catch up because such a long period of time has passed so it was a deliberate decision to make each one stand alone and make each one different from the others while keeping them similar at the same time.
GA: I have to say from what I’ve seen it has worked quite well.
JL: Well thank you for saying that, I do my best.
GA: Which one of those is your favorite both in to write and which Pantheon because I know you said you liked Greek but once you delved more did you find yourself having a new favorite?
JL: I have to say I don’t like playing the game of which book is my favorite because each one I enjoyed for a different reason. The Age of Zeus I enjoyed because it was the Greek mythology which as I already said was my personal favorite mythology. But I like The Age of Odin because it was so easy to write. Once I got the guy’s voice because it is a first person narrative, it came pouring out and I really enjoyed doing that and it was something that I enjoyed because it was something I haven’t done before, write a book in a first person voice. Each I’ve enjoyed for different reasons.
GA: That’s great. I can see each one has a feel to it, you can see you enjoy doing each one in the writing.
JL: It comes back to attention span I couldn’t do the same thing over and over. I find sequels very hard to do. I’ve done it in the past and I’m doing it now with Redlaw. I had to find a new way into it so I’m not just doing the same thing over and over.
GA: Yea it keeps you fresh too.
JL: Yes exactly if I’m fresh then the book is fresh.
JL: Well first of all I’m looking forward to reading your column because that is a great idea to see who works and who doesn’t. For my own point of view I have to say the Egyptian Pantheon in the Age of Ra I do have them wiping the floor with the other Pantheons prior to the action in the book. So it is the concept of the book is that there has been this great series of conquests in the world of the gods and the Egyptian gods have completely taken over and won that by destroying the others. There is basically a family of four the core of that pantheon who’s names escape me at the moment, but they’re the ones that do all of the heavy lifting.
GA: Those were the seniors of the pantheon, the ones all of the Egyptian gods answer too?
JL: That’s right yes. That being said it would be fun to have sort of smack down between the Aztec gods and the Greek gods because they all come with their sort of power sets and everything. It would be like the Avengers and the Justice League. You would have all sorts of fun pitting the different types against one another or the similar types against each other.
JL: Someone had suggested on my blog that I do one last book where it is just a complete free for all, with all of the gods going up against one another just as they are doing with Avengers vs. X-Men at the moment. I think it would be fun but it might be a bit of hard work.
GA: It might be a little bit much especially figuring out how to figure out how to put all of those universes together because each one is its own individual world and putting them together would be one giant conglomerate smack down.
JL: And what happens to all of their respective worshipers. Some of the gods (in each book) still have worshipers and others don’t because they have fallen into decay and are forgotten. Does that make a difference? Also do you bring in all of the big guns like Yahweh, and Allah and what about those? Do they come along stamp their feet and destroy everything?
GA: True, very true. Which one of the group leaders, and we can base that of who is on the cover of each book Ra, Zeus, Odin…I feel terrible not knowing how to pronounce this Aztec’s god’s name.
JL: I didn’t know it either until I looked it up, its Quetzalcoatl (Kay-so-coat-al-a)
GA: Ah ok. I think I pronounced it four different ways in general conversation just changing it each time.
GA: We can throw in Baron Samedi in there as well. The question comes down to which of the leaders of these gods would win a smaller scale fight?
JL: I have to say it would be Zeus. He can kick around with the thunder bolts, take out Thor and others for that reason probably Ra as well. He would come out on top he is an old campaigner who has been around for a while and he would fight dirty.
GA: He is definitely a dirty fighter. Speaking of people like Samedi and the Age of Voodoo since it is all finished and ready for release.
JL: Actually it isn’t quite finished yet I still have about 50 or 60 pages left.
GA: So you are in the home stretch. You’re at the part of the book where when I get to that spot I need time to finish because I won’t want to put it down.
JL: Exactly that is the precisely the point. It comes a point where the momentum takes over and you are just sort of racing towards the end where you don’t want to rush it but you want to find out the end. It is sort of a nice place to be and it is also quite stressful because you have to tie it all together but somehow everything always works out.
GA: I think that the worst or best for me is the Age of Zeus because once they got to the part where they were on the edge of Olympus and the final charge was on there were over 150 pages left and it is just non-stop action so I just had to keep going.
JL: That was my intention. That book made me say “this is getting to long, this is getting too long” because it is by far the longest one of the series. I was thinking I have to get my foot on the pedal and get going towards the end, but that all comes back to what I was saying earlier about it being my favorite there was so much I wanted to get in there without leaving anything out. I had to make sure I had to keep the action taking over because there were plenty of monster attacks. The idea of men on a mission format where you have 12 people and you know that not all of them are going to make it to the end of the story, and there is the tension of who is going to go next and how are they going to go. You saying you raced through the last 150 pages is the highest compliment anyone can pay I’m pleased that is how it was.
GA: I dedicated half of the morning to finishing it. I made others read it and I told them I know it is a long non-stop action book and it doesn’t read that way and you will get through this quickly and she ended up loving it. Someone else I know read Ra and he ended up liking that book a lot as well.
JL: I’m glad people like my books when you lend them out. Going back to Voodoo and the question. It is a man of a mission book again. What I’ve done with this one is that I played it reasonably straight is that it is set in our world and not alternate history. I tried to be as true and accurate to Voodoo as I possibly can because as you know Voodoo is still a religion that is practiced by many, many people. At the same time though I took liberties with it so it makes a good story with good guys and bad guys and Baron Samedi is definitely the bad guy in the story.
GA: He always is the bad guy.
JL: He usually is yes, but then again he is not just about death and graveyards. He is also the god of sex an orgies and drinking he is kind of that duality. That is why on the cover he is wearing a pair of sun glasses but one of the lenses is missing which helps show there are two ways of looking at things the light way and the dark way. I think that is embodied in Baron Samedi.
GA: He is definitely the type of guy that goes both ways of being light and dark because you can’t be the god of life, parties, sex, and orgies and be all bad.
GA: Well you have my interest already. Out of the other four which I didn’t want to spoil on your website, but I reviewed most of these books so far on The Geek Asylum so I can spoil it here. Each gods have their own little set of quirks. In the Age of Ra they are world conquerors who took over the world, Age of Zeus they are genetically enhanced men, Odin they are like regular people who are stronger and have various power sets to them, and Aztec they are aliens. Honestly in Aztec I thought they were just complete myth, but worshiped in a way that controlled the world but then you introduced the actual gods in that book so I realized these gods are going to be real as well. Obviously there are so many options and ideas you can have and the Voodoo god and corresponding spirits are going to have their own relationship with humanity. Anything specific for the origin of these gods other than what we just previously covered?
JL: No pretty much these are going to be treated as real spirits and entities who interact with humans and each of them have their own characteristics and personalities. I will sort of play around with that for a bit. This time I’m playing it straight to see how that works.
GA: I’m sure it is going to be great and like you said keep things interesting for both yourself and the reader. Readers can definitely tell when the author is interested in his/her work as opposed to just writing for the pay check.
JL: Oh yea definitely and I as a reader myself can tell when the author loses interest or doesn’t quite know what he or she is doing. As long as I’m excited about an idea, and it is hard to stay excited about an idea over the course of 4-5 months it takes to write a book then at the same time though I think I’m creating something here that is new and that is the exciting part and I want it to be a different so it can be as interesting as it can be. Again that has to do with having a short attention span.
GA: That is great keep it fresh keep us happy and you at the same time. Moving on to the novellas, Age of Anansi, Age of Satan, as I saw on your blog plus the untitled. Before I go any further do you know who that third is going to be about just no name.
I’m going to probably be doing it sometime early next year. I have some time to think about it. With the novellas they are eBooks for the moment but they are going to be collected in an anthology next year probably called the Age of Godpunk. It was coined by one of the editors at Solaris a line editor David said we should stick the word punk on the end of a word and it becomes a new genre, but we did it for fun. So yea the Age of Godpunk will be Age of Anansi, Age of Satan, and one other. I think the plan is each of these are all sort of different they aren’t military SF they are more fantasy based, but they allow me to go off track and it is only a novella so you can play around a bit more and be more experimental and have more fun. That is the plan behind those. I still love writing them and I hope they are readable and fun and they are slightly lighter hearted as well.
GA: Sometimes doing something a different pace is always a good thing which is why it can be difficult to read the same author over, and over, and over because you know even doing different books they are going to have similar styles to themselves.
JL: Absolutely that is it and I like to mix it up a bit which is the same reason I write books for children and teenagers it is another palate to explore. Keep the novelty going.
GA: Do you have any idea who is going to be that big number six to finish the second Pantheon trilogy?
JL: Yea we are thinking Age of Shiva going towards the Hindu pantheon and write sort of a super hero story.
GA: They would probably be a good choice for super heroes in a pantheon.
JL: I just sort of dipped into the mythology but they all seem to be kind of super heroes. I remember reading a long time ago someone showed me an Indian comic which was retelling the myths and for all intents and purposes it was a super hero comic with just blue skinned gods instead of Superman or Captain America and I thought I could do something with that. I haven’t sat down and done the homework and done a synopsis yet but the editor John and I are pretty sure we are going with Age of Shiva.
GA: That would be good too because it is also a widely practiced religion so it must be difficult at times to have a story where your telling a fictional story about a currently worshiped religion without insulting the worshipers.
JL: Exactly and it is going to be tricky and I hope people will see it is going to be fun and as true to the mythology as I can. I don’t want a billion Hindu’s or whatever it is angry with me.
GA: Let’s wrap up the Pantheon book set and move on. Is there anything else you want to add about any of the books or any teaser you want to share?
JL: I really can’t think of anything. After finishing the first three I was thinking I’m not going to do anymore of these, but Solaris was saying “you should do more of these” so at that point I thought maybe I should. I might not call it a day after six. There is still the Chinese mythology, the Celtic myths but I will just have to see. Most likely take a break for a year or two. As we are going to discuss later I have a couple of other projects lined up to fill that gap.
GA: Would you ever consider doing a book on one of the big three? Judaism, Christianity, or Islam?
JL: The thing with monotheistic religions is that there isn’t the unity or family that you can play around with and you know in Christianity God is a single parent with one son. In the family dynamic or team dynamic is what makes writing and reading this fun. I think I would be crazy if I tried to tackle Islam.
GA: Especially with today the way some people in this world behave.
JL: We did make jokes about what an Age of Allah what the cover would be but those are just not going to be repeated.
GA: I wouldn’t even think to ask what your ideas were. I think we can leave that type of cover to imaginations.
JL: Speaking of the covers though and I know you know because we have talked about them they are fantastic. I think they contribute a great deal to an overall feel of the books and making them appealing to the people. Marek Okon does an outstanding job on these covers.
GA: Just fantastic work. Seeing the covers and reading the back of the books is what opened my eyes to the book and as the saying goes “don’t judge a book by its cover” is very true it should also be noted that a good cover is what can help catch someone’s eyes introducing them to a fantastic book
JL: That is exactly what a good cover should do. Covers do sell books there is no getting around that and a good cover should stand out on the shelf and it can sell the book. A cover can be wonderful and be on a book that is utter crap. That is just the way it is you shouldn’t judge a book by the cover but the cover is often times a good way of telling what is inside and what to expect you might like it just looking at the cover
This is part one of the interview with James Lovegrove covering the entirety of the Pantheon series as much as we can. Next time we roll along we are going to be discussing things like Redlaw, other works by Mr. Lovegrove and of course random questions to make us all happy. I just wanted to thank Mr. Lovegrove for his time and willingness to answer all of my questions. For more on any of his books discussed here visit his website http://www.jameslovegrove.com/ I hope you enjoyed part one, and stay tuned for Part Two!