How did you get the idea for Meteorite Strike?
I moved from England to live in Australia about four years ago and the first time I flew over the country was a real experience – you have no concept of the size of Oz until you’ve been here. It’s a country into which you could fit most of Europe! I began thinking that it would be interesting to write a story about a virus outbreak set in the middle of all that emptiness. Once I started writing, however, the idea of the virus giving the main characters superpowers came along and the story took a different direction.
Meteorite Strike is the first book in your Superhumans series. Do you know how many books you hope to have in the series and have you plotted out the storylines for these already?
I’ve already written the sequel, Alien Storm, and have some clear ideas in my mind for the third book. Although the first three books are a kind of trilogy, I have no set number for the series. As long as people are interested in reading new Superhumans instalments, I’ll keep writing them because I love the characters!
What do you see as the main influences on your writing?
There’s a great tradition of stories about young people who develop superpowers and the issues they face - I’m thinking of Marvel comic books such as X-Men and Spiderman here, but also recent TV series such as Heroes and Smallville. I’m glad that the Superhumans series is part of that tradition and I hope it offers some new twists on the genre.
I also love computer games and am excited about the way they’ve become more sophisticated in terms of plot and characters over the past few years. The recent Uncharted 2, for example, had especially great dialogue and a gripping story, although my all-time favourite is the Half-Life series. (Half Life’s evil military organisation, The Combine, has a lot in common with my bad guys, HIDRA!) I think the way these games mix fast-paced action with plot and character development is really effective and I try to replicate that in my writing.
How did you carry out the research when writing Meteorite Strike? Did you discover any really interesting facts during your research that you would like to share with us?
Researching Meteorite Strike was a lot of fun. It involved getting to know Australia by visiting some of the locations that later featured in the book. The Twelve Apostles, which appears at the end of the story, was one of the first places I visited when I arrived in Oz. The “Apostles” are huge limestone stacks that stand off the coast of Victoria. It’s a very atmospheric place – here’s one of my photos of them (taken at about 6 in the morning):
Another great place I visited was the Pinnacles Desert in Western Australia. It’s about three hours north of the nearest city and is filled with hundreds of strange-shaped rocks jutting out of the sand. It gave me lots of ideas for the desert sequences in the book - again, there’s a great feeling of emptiness in these places. Here’s a pic (it was VERY hot that day):
“Research” for the book was an interesting activity!
Do you have a favourite author? What really appeals to you about their work?
I’ve been a big fan of Philip K. Dick since I was in my teens. He wrote incredibly imaginative sci-fi novels and has influenced lots of Hollywood films, such as The Matrix and The Terminator. The thing I love about his books is that you never know what is going to happen next. My favourite of his novels is called UBIK - halfway through, the main characters discover they were all killed a few chapters before, which is pretty typical in one of these books! Philip K. Dick’s short stories are great too and probably the best way to get into his writing.
Are there any books or authors that you would recommend fans of your books to read?
If you like superhero books and films, you should try some graphic novels. I grew up reading 2000AD and Alan Moore, one of its regular contributors, went on to write some classics. The compilation Alan Moore’s DC Universe is a good introduction to some of his early work – there’s a great Superman/Swamp Thing story included. Frank Miller’s Year One and The Dark Knight Returns are also favourites of mine.
Can you recommend one book that you think every boy should read at some point?
When I was 13, I read Lord of the Flies by William Golding and it had a big effect on me. It’s about a group of boys stranded on a desert island. Without any adults around, they’re free to create their own rules, but eventually they revert to a pretty savage state. This is a scary book, but it’s very well written and has a lot to say. It makes you wonder how you would behave if you were in the shoes of one of the boys on that island.
Meteorite Strike has been described as cinematic by one reviewer. Are you a big movie fan, and which films, if any, do you think have influenced your work?
I’m a film fanatic, but I especially love action and sci-fi movies. Raiders of the Lost Ark was one of my favourite films as a kid. I loved it because the action didn’t let up from beginning to end - I used to watch it over and over again! In the last ten years superhero movies like Ironman, The Dark Knight and X-Men 2 have really raised the standard for comic book adaptations and these were a big influence on Meteorite Strike.
Colonel Moss and Major Bright are pretty nasty villains. Who would you like to play them if Meteorite Strike was made into a movie?
When I was writing the book I had the mental image of an older actor like Ed Harris or Jeff Bridges (who was the bad guy in Ironman) playing Colonel Moss. It would have to be someone who looks like he’s used to giving orders and having them followed. Major Bright is younger and even meaner, so it would be exciting to see an actor like Christian Bale (Batman) take a break from hero roles to play him.
Can you give us any hints as to what we can expect from your next book in the series, Alien Storm?
The second book is about Sarah, Robert and their friends coming to terms with their powers and using them to combat a threat to the entire planet. Most of Alien Storm is set in a very desolate, hostile part of Russia and it introduces some new enemies for the team to face – however, one of the bad guys from the first book is back and still causing trouble!
Is there anything else you would like to say to your readers?
I hope you enjoy reading Meteorite Strike as much as I enjoyed writing it! You can visit my website at www.agtaylor.net or find me on twitter at twitter.com/ag_taylor for updates and news about the Superhumans series.
Thank you for your time Andrew, it is very much appreciated. Meteorite Strike is published by Usborne and is scheduled for release in the UK on 29th January 2010.