Friday, May 30, 2014

The Shadow Master Master - Some Questions for Craig Cormick

Today's guest is Craig Cormick, author of The Shadow Master.

How did you hook up with Angry Robot for The Shadow Master?
That’s an interesting story. I went to a spec-fiction conference, Conflux, in Canberra, in Australia, and they had these pitch to a publisher sessions, and Marc Gascoigne from Angry Robot books was there taking pitches from participants. But I didn’t actually pitch to him. However, after the conference I was talking to a colleague who said that it was still possible to send a pitch as part of the deal – so I jumped on the email and said, ‘Have I got a kick-arse book for you!’ etc etc and they like it and it all went onwards from there.

Having said that, I could tell you more stories where it didn’t end up so happily-ever-after, but every author should have at least one dream-run story, right?

What would you say the big inspirations behind The Shadow Master are?
I have been lucky enough to have traveled a lot in my work as a Science Communicator, and I was a conference in Florence a few years back, and while walking around the Galileo museum I got this idea – what if science behaved like magic? And what if, when Galileo invented the telescope, it actually transported you across to what you were looking at – and what if the early chronometers actually slowed down time? And it all started forming out of that magical moment. Incidentally a highlight of the Galileo museum, if you ever get to go there is finding Galileo’s mummified middle finger in a glass jar, pointing at the church. (

Have you always been interested in Italian history?
Not really, and I had to do a lot of research for the book, and found that the Renaissance in Italy was a pretty fascinating period, particularly with the Medici family in Florence and the Borges and the artists and scientists of the time. It was an amazing time of great social change really.

Any more books featuring Lorenzo and company in the works?
Not featuring Lorenzo, but certainly featuring the Shadow Master. I’m working on the sequel between answer blog interviews. The sequel is really, really, really good. It’s set in a Floating City, something like Venice and I’m using the original Italian tales that Shakespeare adapted into Romeo and Juliet, Othello and the Merchant of Venice, within it. A lot of fun and really enjoyable to write.

Who would you cast in a The Shadow Master movie?
Great question. I’m often thinking who would play the person in the book – and although he could be many different people as you’d never quite get to see his face, I think Michael Fassbender has the physique and wicked grin right.

Who is your favorite author?
That’s a very big question. To some extent it’s what ever book I’m reading at the moment that I’m really getting in to. But if I had to think, who would I travel a long, long way to meet, or who would I take a day off work to read their book upon its release, I’d list Cormac McCarthy, James Joyce and Margaret Atwood.

What is your favorite book?
Do you mean what is my favourite book that I’d grab off the shelf in the case off a house fire before I went and got my wife and kids? Another hard question. Of course I’d grab my early copies of the Shadow Master first. But after that I might go to where I have a few collectors items, like my signed Salman Rushdie’s the Satanic Verses, or my leather-bound Don Quixote illustrated by Salvador Dali. Or all my Phantom comics…:

What are you reading now?
I have several books next to my bed calling out to me in the night, saying, “Read me!” “No, read me!” “No, read me.” The one I’m currently enjoying the most is book two of the Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. It’s very enjoyable and it was only when I was half way into book two that I discovered that Robin is an XX chromosome person. She does the young male’s point of view very well.

Is there a book that made you want to be a writer?
Probably the Narnia Chronicles, which I read when I was about ten or so and they really transported me to another world and after finishing them I wanted to write more books in the series to make the story go on longer. I still have the first book I ever wrote – when I was about 11-years-old or so – it was called the End of the Second Eon and was a hand-written fantasy book. It had knights and ravens and magic and .... hmmm, I’d better go and dig it out and look it over and see if it was truly atrocious as I fear, or whether there might actually be the gem of a good idea in there that I could re-use.

Is The Shadow Master was your first published work?
Nooo – I’ve published about 20 books and over 100 short stories, though mainly in literary areas and a mix of fiction and non-fiction, although I’ve always been strongly interested in history and reinterpretations of history. Readers can check out some of my work and samples here.

What's next for Craig Cormick?
There’s always something in the pipeline - and I’ll probably need to call a plumber around to clear it out – but I’m just looking over the proofs of a novel I’ve written about Adolf Hitler having been found hiding in a small fishing village in Australia during the Falkland’s War, and I’m getting near the end of the editing of a book on the science of the Australian Bushranger Ned Kelly. ( It involved editing a collection of pieces from all the different scientists who have worked on identifying Ned Kelly’s bones and remains that were recently located at a prison cemetery. It involves forensic pathology and DNA testing and archaeology and detective work through the records and is absolutely fascinating story. Watch this space!

Any advice for aspiring writers?
My favourite advice for writers is this quote from the German poet Rilke. Every writer should have it stuck up on their wall somewhere.

“There is only one way. Go within. Search for the cause, find the impetus that bids you write. Put it to this test: Does it stretch out its roots in the deepest place of your heart? Can you avow that you would die if you were forbidden to write? Above all, in the most silent hour of your night, ask yourself this: Must I write? Dig deep into yourself for a true answer. And if it should ring its assent, if you can confidently meet this serious question with a simple, “I must," then build your life upon it. It has become your necessity. Your life, in even the most mundane and least significant hour, must become a sign, a testimony to this urge.”


My second favourite bit of advice is this cartoon.

No comments:

Post a Comment