We the editors of Quantum Muse would like to than Peter F. Hamilton for taking the time to be interviewed for our zine and wish him the best with all his projects.
How long did it take from you first writing project to publication?
I started writing in 1986, doing short stories for small-press magazines. My first sale was to something called New Moon (long gone now). My first professional short sale was to Fear Magazine in I think 1989. I sold the Greg Mandel novel Mindstar Rising to Pan Macmillan in 1990, though it wasnít published until 1993.
If you didnít become an author, what would you probably be doing?
Not sure. Landscape gardening? I spend a lot of time in my own garden.
What do you like most and least about being an author?
Best is the amount of time I can spend with my family compared to people in a Ďnormalí job. Least is the amount of time sitting typing away in solitude Ėthough I do get to listen to a lot of music while Iím doing it.
Plenty of S/F writers are pretty much using universes developed by earlier writers. Worse, in my opinion, are those stories way too influenced by Star Wars and Star Trek franchises. Your creations avoid those pit falls. Was it a conscious decision to build whole new universes?
Absolutely, I see no point in writing SF unless youíre doing it in a world youíve created. This is the essence of SF, putting forward your own ideas and interpretation of the world around you. Exploring Ďnowí through an SF filter is the best kind of writing as far as Iím concerned.
Some writers plan their books in great detail. Others have a broad outline but make up much of it as they go. A few just start writing and see where they end up. How would you describe your writing technique?
I start off planning everything in what I believe is great detail. Invariably when I try to write to that plan extra ideas start to creep in, which throws off the outlines for the last section of the book so I have to go back and re-write the notes to take into account whatís happened.
I think I envy those who can just start off without any idea where theyíre going, but that method is simply not for me.
Is an editor a friend or a taskmaster?
I always try and keep them as a friend. They are the people I rely on most of all to provide a professional review of the finished manuscript. As with all authors I get far too close to my work to have a neutral perspective on it. Of course, editors are also taskmasters when they have to be. Fortunately Iíve never missed a deadline by too much.
Do you notice a difference in novels written by British authors?
Not really. But then I get to read so little these days...
Are there any big differences between your UK and US fans?
Havenít noticed, itís always a nice bunch of people who show up to readings/signings/conventions.
You are one of the better know S/F writers in Briton. Do people recognize you on the street? Michael Moorcock once told the QM staff that at one time being a Science Fiction writer in Briton was like being a rock star. Of course, Moorcock is also a musician, so that may have colored his perceptions. Do you ever feel like a rock star? Is Science Fiction fame good enough for a few free beers?
Ah well, I guess Iíve never reached Michael Moorcockís status. Certainly Iíve never been mobbed on the street. In fact, at conventions authors tend to be the quiet, conservatively-dressed guys huddled together at the end of the bar like a mutual support group. Not very rock and roll at all.
Do you read much, other than for research?
Not these days. My own writing and family eat up every moment of time. I always keep promising myself Iíll read more when the current book is finished, but it never seems to happen.
Some claim you write space opera. How do you feel about that?
I shout the fact loud and proud. Of course I write space opera Ėbest kind of subgenre there is.
Greg Mandel trilogy -Prophetic?
I always start talks by saying SF is not prophetic. Unfortunately Mandelís world featured the Credit Crash, global warming and an unpopular left wing UK government...
The Nights Dawn Trilogy portrayed a really disturbing afterlife. It's like everybody goes to hell. I must admit it gave me nightmares. Did religious communities take offense?
It wasnít everyone who got trapped in the beyond, only those who were dissatisfied with their own life. And I havenít yet heard any comments from religious communities.
Your dead possessing the living scenario allowed you resurrect any historical figure. I loved seeing historical figures in a future setting. Was that as much fun as it appeared to be?
Yes, although I had to be careful and not use the very obvious ones. Instead I chose figures that everyone would still recognize the name.
Will you be writing any more stories from his Night Dawn Universe?
Possibly, but if I do it wonít be for a while.
What scares you most about the future?
The attitude which too many people seem to have that it will take care of itself, and we shouldnít be concerned about the actions we take today. Thatís the very opposite of the way I feel.
Feel free to answer the question you most like to answer but nobody ever asks.
Which musical period do you enjoy?
The 70ís because I lived through it, and we had it all, thereís just about any and every style of music you can think of happening then, good as well as bad. It beats any other decade. (Some people reading this may disagree.)