To celebrate the release of Big Red, I asked Damien to come by to answer a few questions. I hope you'll stick around to check out his answers...
There’s A LOT going on in Big Red. Military sci-fi, alternate history, Twilight Zone-style plot twists: Where did the inspiration for all of this come from?
The seeds of Big Red started with a really vivid dream (which very loosely forms the basis of the first two chapters). I dreamt about a group of highly traumatised soldiers on a return voyage from Mars and after waking up, the images stayed with me. I started thinking it out and played around with the idea. Once I had the world built in my head, I put pen to paper (or rather, fingertips to keyboard)!
I’m a bit of a history buff, so I wanted to create a chain of events set decades before the story told in Big Red to give a better understanding as to what was happening to the characters. While researching, I came across an article about the 1952 Washington UFO Incident and used that as a springboard for the backstory.
As for the plot twists, I’m a bit of a fan of Derren Brown, so I wanted to throw in some misdirection to keep people hooked and guessing about what was really going on.
I was second guessing everything right up to the very end. You definitely had me hooked. Any chance we’ll see more stories set in the world/universe of Big Red?
I’m in the process of exploring an anthology with some colleagues in the British Irish Writing Community. I’ve sketched out a short story from Noid’s perspective running parallel to the events of the last two chapters in Big Red, which would give some insight into the events of Operation Salient on Mars.
I’m also nearly done with the first draft of Big Red 2. Having gotten so immersed in that world again during the editing process, I felt compelled to let the next phase of the story pour out into a Word document. It still needs a lot of work, but it answers a lot of questions the characters hinted at and opens up the universe of Big Red a bit more…
Of course, whether Big Red 2 ever sees the light of day is based on book sales and general interest, so we’ll see! After a few recent blog posts on my website about the backstory of Big Red, I’ve also sketched out ideas for a prequel story covering the events of 1952 – 1954 but it’ll be a while before I fully work that one out.
Even the suggestion we could get a sequel is pretty exciting! You seem to be pretty deep into sci-fi, is it your favourite genre?
Is there any genre you won't write?
I never say never when it comes to writing. There are genres I couldn’t imagine myself writing in, but at the same time, I do love a challenge and pushing myself to try new things.
Do you have any odd writing habits?
When I get frustrated with my writing, I stare out of my window at a nearby tree and try to make it explode using only the power of my mind. It hasn’t exploded yet, but I did see it shake once. Although that could have been the wind…
That's not odd. I'm sure we all do that from time to time.
How did you get connected with Dancing Lemur Press? What made you decide to submit your work to them?
I took part in the IWSG Pitch on Twitter and ended up getting three likes from three different publishers for my tweet about Big Red. I did my due diligence and submitted to two publishers.
What struck me first was the submission guidelines for Dancing Lemur Press. They asked for things which I hadn’t seen in many guidelines before like outlining a marketing plan and contact details for your editor. I had both already, but it gave me the impression they weren’t interested in time-wasters and likewise, they wouldn’t waste my time.
In the end, it ranks as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I learned more about writing and the business end of writing in the first four weeks than I had in the previous year of research.
There submission guidelines are certainly unique. How was the process of having your book published?
It was a combination of daunting and fun. I enjoyed the editing process a lot. It was a great opportunity to go through the story with a fine-tooth comb and get a better idea of what writing mistakes I was continually making. At the same time, it involved me reading and re-reading the story over and over again until everything turned blurry. Factor in a job and two young children and there were definitely some moments of exhaustion and mental fatigue.
Still, I wouldn’t trade it for the world to see Big Red in print and sitting in bookshops worldwide.
I'm sure it will prove worth it. What's your favourite book, and why?
Yeah I think a lot of people would agree with you on its relevance in our current world. What are you working on now?
I’m roughly a third of the way through a dystopian sci-fi thriller about a world ravaged by a drug that gives users temporary telepathic powers. I still have a good bit of work to do on it, but I’m hoping to get it polished and ready for submissions by the end of summer.
Very cool. And now to change the speed completely, I have a very serious and important question: Who is your favourite professional wrestler?
Mick Foley without a doubt! Whether you know him as Mankind, Dude Love or Cactus Jack he knew how to put on a show!
That is an excellent choice. He's also a very successful, bestselling author! Okay, one last question, for bonus points: Who is your favourite Canadian Prime Minister?
I don’t know too much about Canadian politics, but I do remember reading about Pierre Trudeau. He seemed like a bit of a badass, plus John Lennon really liked him!
That's really the best answer. I would also accept Jean Chretien, and maybe Lester B. Pearson, if you backed up your response with specific examples.
This will make a lot more sense after you read the book.
By Damien Larkin
We have always been here...
Traumatized by the effects of Compression travel, soldier Darren Loughlin holds the key to the fate of Earth's Martian colonies. With his Battalion decimated, his fractured memory holds the only clues to the colony-wide communications blackout.
With time running out, Darren pieces together his year-long tour of duty with the Mars Occupation Force. Stationed in the Nazi-founded New Berlin colony, ruled by the brutal MARSCORP, he recounts his part in the vicious, genocidal war against the hostile alien natives and all who question Terran supremacy.
But as his memories return, Darren suspects he is at the centre of a plot spanning forty years. He has one last mission to carry out. And his alien enemies may be more human than he is...
BUY THE BOOK
Damien Larkin is a part-time Planning Analyst and a full-time stay-at-home father of two young children. He enjoys turning terrifying nightmares into novels and currently resides in Dublin, Ireland.
Trust me. I really enjoyed it.