Thursday, February 23, 2012

Guest Post: Tobias Buckell

Curling Up By The Fire would like to welcome Tobias Buckell, author of Arctic Rising, releasing February 28th, 2012.  He is here to answer a few questions about his new release and to discuss the challenges of researching information about global warming and the arctic.  Take a look at the synopsis:

Global warming has transformed the Earth, and it's about to get even hotter. The Arctic Ice Cap has all but melted, and the international community is racing desperately to claim the massive amounts of oil beneath the newly accessible ocean.

Enter the Gaia Corporation. Its two founders have come up with a plan to roll back global warming. Thousands of tiny mirrors floating in the air can create a giant sunshade, capable of redirecting heat and cooling the earth's surface. They plan to terraform Earth to save it from itself—but in doing so, they have created a superweapon the likes of which the world has never seen.

Anika Duncan is an airship pilot for the underfunded United Nations Polar Guard. She’s intent on capturing a smuggled nuclear weapon that has made it into the Polar Circle and bringing the smugglers to justice.

Anika finds herself caught up in a plot by a cabal of military agencies and corporations who want Gaia Corporation stopped. But when Gaia Corp loses control of their superweapon, it will be Anika who has to decide the future of the world. The nuclear weapon she has risked her life to find is the only thing that can stop the floating sunshade after it falls into the wrong hands.


1) To start off, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?  How did you become interested in writing science-fiction novels?
Hi, my name is Tobias S. Buckell. I was born in the Caribbean and grew up living aboard a sailboat. I currently live in the US. I became interested in SF novels from quite a young age. I remember reading a novel by Arthur C. Clarke when I was six or seven, and it just blew me away. The big ideas, the grand scale, the huge questions. I got hooked on the genre.

2) Can you tell us a little about your novel?  What is it like to create your own concept of the future?
Arctic Rising is a novel about Anika Duncan, an airship pilot in the near future who patrols the Northwest Passage of an ice-free Arctic looking out for people who are dumping nuclear waste. After she's shot out of the sky she gets obsessed with figuring out who shoot her down.

3) What inspired you to write Arctic Rising ?  How much research was involved in the writing?
The inspiration from this novel came from a lot of research I was doing about things that are happening right now in the Arctic. Companies are filing paperwork to be able to get access to the natural resources that will be exposed once the ice has melted. Deep water ports are being planned. Shipping companies are eyeing the ability to be able to get their goods across the top of the world, thus saving time and fuel.

4) What was your greatest challenge while writing this novel?  What is it like creating a superweapon that could destroy our world?
As with most novels, getting to the end is always a tough challenge. I had a bout of bad health in the middle, so it took three years to finish this book, longer than I usually take.

As for the super weapon, I'm always prone to big explosions. When I stumbled across the idea I couldn't leave it alone.

5) In this novel, we are introduced to some very interesting and intriguing characters.  Who was the most fun to write about?  Which character presented the biggest challenge?
I really liked Anika. She's a bit quiet, but very dogged in wanting to attain her goals. It was nice to write, but always a challenge in that I was trying to get her to come out of her shell. She liked being a pilot, doing her own thing. Then she's tossed into a much bigger mess.

The biggest challenge was Violet. She's a bit mysterious, checkered past, and she spends a chunk of the book out of the picture. I had to give her enough characterization to allow her to go away for a while, but still come back and be interesting.

6) What are 3 things that are 'must haves' when you write? Do you have any writing rituals?
I prefer to write at night and on a laptop. That's pretty much it for me. I really like the program Scrivener, it helps me organize everything and is now on my essential tools list.

7) What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Write a lot. I find a lot of aspiring writers spend a lot of time thinking about writing, planning to write, waiting for the right moment, the right tools, the best advice, etc etc. Practice is one of the more powerful muscles to develop.

8) Can you share with us any projects that you are currently working on or plans for the future? What can fans expect next from you?  Are there other genres in which you are interested but haven't yet explored?
I'm working on a new novel called The Apocalypse Ocean, for fans of my previous Crystal Rain novels. I'm also working on my next novel for Tor books, called The Infringement.

9) Favourite authors? Role models?
The old school guys I love are Robert Louis Stevenson and Alexandre Dumas. In science fiction I really enjoyed Arthur C. Clarke, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. I read a lot of thrillers and spy novels as well: Forsythe, Le Carre, and so on, though that's dropped off more of late. These days I've been pushing Alastair Reynolds on everyone who asks me for a recommendation, I'm looking forward to his latest book.

10) Do you have a pivotal point in your life, a point when you knew you would be a writer?  How did it develop?
My mom kept suspecting I was going to be a librarian, but that sounded like way too much organization ability for me. It congealed in my head around 14 or 15. At 14 I was dabbling in writing short stories and chapters of an epic novel I had in my head, and I was 15 when I first wrote a complete short story and submitting it with the intent of selling it. There was no major aha moment, it developed slowly until I realized I had to try.

11) What do you like to do when you are not writing? What is your ultimate luxury?
I have twin toddlers, so I don't have too much in the free time department. I keep up with my reading, catch a couple shows on iTunes with my wife. I really enjoy playing video games, that's where I chill. My ultimate luxury is travel. I love getting a chance to go new places, even though it exhausts me to travel.


  1. It sounds like a fascinating book, Tobias!

    Excellent interview!