banking capital of New Sparta, to the knock-off gang-infested world of Babylon, from the superficially civilised Brannan’s World to the Xter-dominated frontier world of Leesa’s childhood, Liaise. I loved the interplay between the characters and the wealth of secrets hidden by so many of them. I loved writing the wise-cracking Mudball and hinting at his real intentions, and I loved thinking up the different wonders found in the cache chamber and writing the action sequence that occurs towards the book’s finale… Most of all, I think I enjoyed taking established SF tropes such as alien caches bootstrapping humanity to the stars and turning them on their heads. Yes, I really have had fun writing this one, and look forward to continuing the story. In one sentence what’s your second best piece of advice for writers? (since I have your first best in the last interview) Hey, that’s unfair, I cheated last time and actually gave you two because I couldn’t choose between them (don’t take rejection personally and join a writers’ group). Okay, something new… Write short stories. Even if your real ambition and focus is the novel, you’ll gain so much from mastering the shorter form – in a short story you have to establish character and setting in a few deft sentences as opposed to doing so over the course of chapters – that sort of discipline, that ability to make very word count, will stand you in good stead whatever you then go on to write. Many thanks to Ian for taking the time to provide answers The BRSBKBLOG review: Take an ensemble cast in a Fireflyesque small trading ship, add a dash of secret backgrounds, a banker, an alien and a treasure cache. Stir gently with memorable characters and locations. Add a dash of wisecracking language and what you end up with is a highly entertaining space opera. Mr Whates obviously had a great deal of fun whilst writing this and it’s bound to rub off on you when you read it. It left me wanting more, which is the point of a first in a series isn’t it? PAGE 24 I wanted more of the mysterious aliens that left behind a treasure cache and note that there is the promise of revelations in the future with keen anticipation. The universe building is deftly done and this is a tightly plotted book. My only, very minor, grumble was with the treasure cache itself. I would have liked to have seen more made of it, both in the heist part itself and in the possibilities of the treasures. Really looking forward to the next one! Overall - Highly entertaining space opera.