Interview with Ian Whates & review of Pelquin’s Comet (Previously published at Bristol Book Blog - http:// brsbkblog.blogspot.co.uk/) Ian Whates lives in a quiet Cambridgeshire village with his partner, Helen, and Honey, a manic cocker spaniel. Ian is the author of six novels to date, most recently Pelquin’s Comet, released in April 2015. Also, the City of 100 Rows trilogy (Angry Robot), and the Noise duology (Solaris). Sixty-odd of his short stories have appeared in various venues, two of which were shortlisted for BSFA Awards, and his second collection Growing Pains (PS Publishing) appeared in 2013. Ian has edited some two dozen anthologies and in 2014 one of these, Solaris Rising 2, was shortlisted for the Philip K. Dick Award. He has served a term as Overseas Director of SFWA and spent five years as chairman the BSFA, stepping down in 2013. In his spare time Ian runs multiple award-winning independent publisher NewCon Press, which he founded by accident in 2006. Ian dropped by to talk about his latest book - Pelquin’s Comet. His interview & a review of the book below: This is the first in a trilogy I believe – can you give us an overview of what they’re about? I’ll try to do so without giving too much away… The books are set in an age of expansion, with humanity spreading out into the stars aided by caches of ancient alien technology which they don’t fully understand. Humanity has encountered its first extant alien culture, the Xters, and the two races eye each other warily across ragged and fairly arbitrary borders, not really competing for habitat due to physiological differences, but not trusting each other either. This first book cen- PAGE 22 tres on the crew of a small independent trading ship, Pelquin’s Comet, who have a lead on a cache of Elder tech that they hope will make them rich. In order to fund an expedition to recover it, they take a loan from a bank. The bank insists that their agent, Drake, accompanies them to safeguard the bank’s interests. They are not the only parties after the cache and soon find themselves in a deadly race to reach it first. Drake provides the over-riding story arc. He has a hidden past, one that comes back to haunt him as the series progresses, starting in this first book, as he encounters familiar faces and places he never expected to see again. He also has a companion, a small cuddly bundle of fur called Mudball whom everyone assumes to be a pet but is actually an alien entity with an agenda all its own. As the series progresses, the secrets multiply, Drake’s past comes ever more to the fore, the true nature of the Elder caches is revealed, and the future of humanity itself hangs in the balance as a result. I’d say this was carefully plotted, how much planning did you do? Thank you, I’m glad it comes across that way. In all honesty, not as much as you might think. I tend to write in an organic fashion, generally setting out with a loose plot in mind and seeing where my characters take me – which often proves to be in directions even I hadn’t anticipated. This book is no exception. I had the four central characters – Drake, Pelquin, Mudball, and Leesa – fairly well established in my head and knew where I wanted to take them by the end of the book. Beyond that, many of the plots and twists that actually brought them there developed while the writing was well underway. One of the earliest chapters to be written was the one exploring Leesa’s childhood on the strange colony world, her sense of not belonging and her first encounter with an Xter. This proved useful as it gave me a solid grounding for writing Leesa as a damaged adult. If you could be a character in the book who would it be and why?