Blog Tour – Q&A with Tom Toner
Welcome to my stop on this weeks The Tropic Of Eternity Blog Tour hosted by Gollancz. I am grateful to be apart of the celebration of such an epic and bold science-fiction series written by a very talented author. Tom Toner did me the honour of answered a selection of questions about this series and his latest release The Tropic Of Eternity. I learned plenty about his work, including that this is not the last instalment (sorry!), and I hope it the Q&A is to everyone’s liking. Enjoy the questions and make sure to visit the other blogs on this tour for plenty more information.
26.07.2018 / Gollancz / Science Fiction / Paperback / 496pp / 978-1473211421
About Tom Toner
Thomas N. Toner was born in the English countryside to two parents employed by the BBC (his mother was a set designer for Doctor Who). He studied fine art and painting in Loughborough before moving to Australia to write. He collects giant fossilized shark teeth, and lives in Bath.
About The Tropic Of Eternity
It is the 147th century. The mighty era of Homo Sapiens is at an end.
In the Westerly Provinces of the Old World, the hunt is on for the young queen Arabis, and the beast that holds her captive. In the brutal hominid Investiture, revolution has come. The warlord Cunctus, having seized the Vulgar worlds, invites every Prism to pick a side. In the Firmament, once the kingdom of the Immortal Amaranthine, all ships converge on the foundry of Gliese. The grandest battle in the history of mammalian kind has begun.
Perception, ancient machine spirit, must take back its mortal remains in a contest for the Firmament itself. Ghaldezuel, now the Grand Marshal of Cunctus’ new empire, must travel to the deepest lagoon in the Investiture, a place where monsters dwell. Captain Maril, lost amongst the Hedron Stars, finds himself caught between colossal powers the likes of which he’d never dreamt.
And for Aaron the Long-Life, he who has waited so very, very long for his revenge, things are only getting started…
Thank you Tom for taking some time to answer a few questions about your brilliant concluding novel The Tropic Of Eternity. Could you give us your own personal overview of what we should expect in within the last instalment of the series?
Thank you! The Tropic of Eternity continues where The Weight of the World left off, visiting new Provinces of the Old World, strange new Prism moons and even the fringes of Andromeda.
What was the initial inspiration for the Amaranthine Spectrum trilogy?
I was walking down a country lane and wondering what the landscape would look like in ten thousand years, if the lane – or some hint of it – would still be there, and who would be walking along it.
Can you give us a few details about the nature of the science-fiction you explore in this series?
I would say about sixty/seventy percent of the characters in the books aren’t human, so there are a lot of odd beasties and environments, ships and worlds. The science is so far-flung (being set in the 147th century) that it’s more of a fantasy set within a space opera.
Is there a particular character or element in The Tropic Of Eternity that you especially enjoyed writing about?
I always have a good time writing the Perception chapters (about the spirit of a dead AI). Perception was inspired by the John Grant song ‘Greatest Motherfucker’, and he certainly thinks of himself as the greatest motherfucker that you’re ever going to meet. Also Harald Hundred – a wandering Amaranthine who’s spent the last fifty years travelling the Prism moons, expressed how I feel about these novels being more than half travel book, at heart.
What sort of challenges did you face when writing such a huge science-fiction series?
Until this year, I’d never really written anything (besides the odd short story and abandoned novel) except epic space opera. I needed the largest canvas possible for what I wanted to do, and you’re continually tested by the challenges until it becomes a sort of drug – you need more scope, more vibrancy, more history and lore etc. I don’t use Scrivener or anything like that, just notebooks stuffed with post-it notes, and there’s a lot of checking through the previous novels for consistency (which is easier to do by just typing a word into google books, rather than hunting through my actual copies – although sometimes they won’t let me see the page I’m after). I drew up a rough map of the Firmament and Investiture to help me get my bearings during all the space faring, too, and buggered the plaster in the guest bedroom with stick-on white board stuff so that I could map out the plots.
How does it feel to have finished the series?
I haven’t actually finished the series (sorry!) – the story was designed to be six parts – but it’s wonderful seeing act 1 completed and all three books together. Something to show for the last seven-ish years of work.
Had you always wanted to become a SF author/writer?
I did, as a kid, but then forgot all about it until university. At first all I really wanted to do was dig up dinosaur bones (which still feels like the most romantic thing ever).
Are there any authors that you look up to as a writer that has helped shape your work?
Colm Toibin, Iain Banks, Hilary Mantel, Bill Bryson.
How long did it take you to plan and write The Tropic Of Eternity compared to the other instalments?
Quite a bit longer (barring all the formative/failed drafts of book 1). I think from start to finish it was just under two and a half years.
Can you tell us in five words what writing means to you?
Back Pain And Weight Gain
Did you take the time to celebrate the conclusion of writing/the release of TTOE?
Not really. There was some prosecco (you’ve got to, life’s too short, and a finished novel’s still pretty great). But it’s not like the first book, which feels like some great, life-defining milestone. Now it’s just another episode (however much more skilfully crafted than the first), you’re just a story machine that grows ever more efficient with each new product, spending your days piecing these tiny clockwork sections together (lot of mixed metaphors there). But writing complex novels is such a mental workout that I think new ideas arrive more swiftly too, now that you’ve trained your brain (or maybe its the five cups of coffee a day), so I got excited about new projects almost straight away.
Have you got a hobby/activity you do to wind down from all the work and writing?
The writing’s like knotweed, kind of strangling the life out of other hobbies, but I still try to draw and paint as much as I can (I’d like to enter the BP portrait award again at the end of the year), and sometimes after a full day of writing I like putting on some music, drinking about half a bottle of red and cooking experimental things for my wife when she comes home from work (she doesn’t really love eating them, though, and the mess is insane. I’m surprised I haven’t chopped a finger off yet, to be honest) -cooking seems to use totally different brain bits, so it’s a complete rest from the work.
Have you got another project you could give us some details about?
Four! I’m working on a horror novel, a ghostly thriller-thing, a colossal, ridiculous space opera unconnected to the Amaranthine Spectrum and a novella for an upcoming series published by Newcon Press.
Finally, have you read a book/article recently that you would personally recommend to the readers of this post?
A couple of non fiction books, actually: Shark Drunk by Morten Stroksnes (all about the long-winded hunt for a greenland shark), and The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf, a fascinating biography of Humboldt.
Thank you Tom Toner for taking the time to answer my questions about The Tropic Of Eternity. I hope the Q&A gives everyone some exciting insights into this epic science-fiction release and encourages people to invest their time in this series. There is plenty more of Tom’s work to come so get on-board now to prepare for the future. Thank you for coming by to support Tom and let me know what you thought of his answers in the comments below.