Thanks to the good people at Angry Robot Books I’ve been able to do things I never thought possible on this blog. Lately one of my favourite things to do is to get an interview with authors. Today I get to talk to Wesley Chu author of The Lives of Tao and his follow-up The Deaths of Tao
42 Webs: I have been a long time fan of both Spy books and Science Fiction but I often find myself weary of the crossover series. How important was it to you that both genres got their ‘due’ in writing?
Wesley Chu: To be honest, not very much at all. The Lives of Tao was my debut novel and was a story I had mulled in my head for a while. I didn’t aim for it to be a SF or a thriller. At the end of the day, I worried about the characters and plot and let someone else figure out how which box to put it in.
Hell, Amazon somehow categorized it as a romance (bromance!). Way I see it, if that’s how readers want to view it, then so be it.
42: You’ve give the world a book about a geek who listens to a voice in his head. Did this come from personal experience and if so….should we be worried (joke)?
WC: It definitely came from personal experience but it’s all right, I have it under control. Wait a minute; I can’t be the only person who talks to himself and thinks it is normal. But yeah, I used to carry entire conversations with myself. I learned a few things from this:
1. I used to be kind of a dick.
2. But I meant well.
These days, I just pretend that it’s my dog is talking to me when I project that voice in my head. Hmm, maybe I should get this checked.
42:The Lives of Tao had a very detailed combat description and a wide array of martial arts theory. Is that drawn from personal experience?
WC: I spent several years training Kung Fu and learning how to fa jing, which is the technical term to do what Bruce Lee meant with the one inch punch. It’s also the power that enables a person to fly through rooftops, bend air, and small houses with his bare hands. Later on, I was involved in stunt choreography, either as an actor performing action scenes or as background stunt work. Basically, I was on screen getting my ass beat a lot.
It gave me a unique perspective on fleshing out fight scenes. I actually had to learn the hard lesson that often less is more in these sorts of scenes. In stuntwork, you need to be exact with your choreography so no one gets hurt. In writing, nobody cares about the actual movements; they care about the emotion and results behind it.
WC: The Deaths of Tao is a different beast than Lives. It’s much darker and more plot driven, and the stakes are higher. Five years have passed since Lives and Roen is no longer the clumsy lovable oaf. Things haven’t been going so well for him and the Prophus, and once again, his personal life is in trouble, though for different reasons.
Jill is now a main character, and she works with the Prophus in the political arena. She takes front billing next to Roen as they fight the Genjix and work on their tattered relationship. There’s a new bad guy as well. This time, Enzo, the new antagonist, is a badass and he’ll make sure you know it. Not gonna lie; I love and detest Enzo, and I think readers will too.
42: You have often referred to yourself as a big fan of sci-fi and a big reader. Did you find yourself pulling inspiration from different games or novels?
WC: A person’s knowledge and interests aren’t created in a vacuum. I’m a result of all the good and dumb shit I’ve read, watched, and experienced in my life. So from gymnastics to D&D to Star Control II, a lot of influences had a hand in building my geek culture and it sometimes leads to strange lessons.
For example, even though I’ve worked in the corporate world for more than a decade, my best experience in project management training was from World of Warcraft. It’s one thing managing a bunch of well-behaved professionals; it’s another entirely dealing with a bunch of pubescent kids hot after fat loots, and then recruiting and managing a eighty of them to raid two to three times week.
42: Research tells me you’re a WOW player; better yet a WoW officer. This leads to important questions. Us Belf Shadow Priest are picky about our answers. (joke)
Alliance or Horde?
WC: FOR THE HORDE!
I think I leveled a dozen Horde characters to max but never got an Alliance character over 30. In fact, I’m so anti-Alliance I’m like a golden retriever when it came to fighting and griefing them, sometimes wasting entire evenings trying to bust up their party. My favorite pastime during the old days was to either hold Booty Bay hostage or take over the boats that carry the alliance between continents.
Did that make me a dick. Yeah, sometimes. Okay, usually. Sorry people.
WC: I had a couple. I changed mains every expansion up to Mists. I finally got off the crack after Cataclysm. At one point, it was either keep up the raiding or taking writing seriously. Writing won out.
But, let’s see. I raided at a high level and had a geared out hero at every expansion. I started out with a:
Vanilla: Tauren Shaman
Outlands: Blood Elf paladin
WotLK: Orc Death Knight
Up next are my two 42 Webs ‘signature questions’. There are small questions that while growing up I always wondered about authors?
What is your favourite book/author? Why?
WC: That’s such a tough question to answer. As a kid, I loved Piers Anthony. Anything that guy wrote, I devoured. I got up to book 18 of his Xanth series before you know, I hit puberty and realized I should be reading Hyperion instead or a book not called The Color of Her Panties.
These days, reading time is a bit of a commodity. I’ve made so many author friends so I’m trying to catch up on what they’ve written. Recently, I got my hands on the ARC of The Republic of Thieves by the Fabio of the SFF community, Scott Lynch. It was a very sought after arc. I admit that I hadn’t read his series before.
My friend Myke Cole was pining after it on twitter for a while, so I decided to gift the arc to him. Then I picked up The Lies of Locke Lamora to see what all the hubbub is about. All I can say is wow!
What is your most memorable comic trade/graphic novel? Why?
WC: Ok, this is gonna sound silly. The most memorable comics that scarred me for life are the ones in the mid 90s (holy crap that’s 20 years ago!) when I bought all these Image comics that sucked: Brigade, Bloodstrike, Team 7, Gen 13, Stormwatch…etc…
Basically, if the comic sucked, I bought it. I went through this binge of buying crap comics. I just couldn’t pick a winner. It was so bad I quit collecting comics after that.