Greetings! I’m pleased to bring you this interview with Andy Oppenheimer, author of Fields of Orion – An Odyssey.
It’s posted below. Please enjoy!
1. What is your author name and in what state do you live (or country if not in the US)?
Andy Oppenheimer – UK
2. What is the title of your newest book and what is the genre?
Fields of Orion: An Odyssey
Science fiction – first contact; science fiction – military
3. What is the book about?
Fields of Orion is an explosive science-fiction thriller set in the near-future world of terrorism, espionage and first contact.
While in service in Iraq, charismatic, handsome British Army bomb-disposal operator Major Adam Armstrong develops telekinetic and extrasensory abilities and miraculous powers of recovery from injury. He is reluctantly recruited into a futuristic military project to create supersoldiers, headed up by the ice-cold Captain Sheena Maxwell, a spurned lover hell-bent on revenge.
Maverick bisexual counter-terror expert Dan Boland foresees the fourth London bomb attack in July 2005 after he sees furious waves of energy light up the sky above a north London park. When he meets Adam Armstrong at events he sees the decorated officer’s horrific PTSD flashbacks of battle carnage. He also sees his transmitted visions of a strange, beautiful desert, somewhere… Dan is mesmerised by Adam and they form an unusual connection. Dan is constantly drawn to the park at night to gaze up at the constellation Orion.
Dan’s powers of intuition get him recruited by the British Intelligence Service, MI5, as an undercover agent to sabotage Adrestia, a highly secretive group of highly placed, far-Right scientists planning acts of cataclysmic eco-terrorism. Dan’s previous association with the IRA (Irish Republican Army) means he can construct bombs. He desperately wants to stop the group’s plans, absolve his past and serve his country. He has sex with the group’s mastermind, Dr Carl Murrow, to advance his spying mission.
Dan falls in love with a vibrant geneticist, Dr Allison Hardy, who is also an MI5 agent working undercover in the Adrestia group. When Allison makes a shocking discovery about Adam Armstrong, she propels the most covert government project in history into unknown territory. As Murrow’s plans approach their climax in London, Sheena’s diabolical plot against Adam gathers pace as he takes the longest walk into unprecedented danger – while carrying the world’s most devastating secret.
Fields of Orion is a dizzying cocktail of James Bond, David Bowie and Greek myth and a journey of breath-taking mystery, crackling dialogue and heart-pounding action that hurtles headlong towards its Earth-shattering conclusion.
4. Where did you come up with the idea?
Long before I became an author and consultant specialising in counter-terrorism, I worked for a futuristic American science and science fiction magazine. I met science fiction writers and scientists and began following the music and imagery of David Bowie, as well as becoming a singer/songwriter of electro-pop music in the burgeoning London nightclub scene.
In this century I embarked on a totally different career, and had the amazing privilege to meet and work alongside army bomb disposal operators. They have inspired me beyond measure. These experiences, separated by several decades – with all their multifarious, totally disparate influences – brought me to write my first science-fiction novel.
I also got the idea for the plot while painting a picture to donate to Felix Fund, the Bomb Disposal Charity. Called ‘Nine Lives’, it features a bomb disposal operator about to dismantle an explosive device in a desert beneath a vast sun. Bowie’s lightning flash pierces the sky above two giant Schrödinger’s cats in the background. Felix the cat is the famous emblem of the bomb squads, as they have nine lives, according to legend. The hero in the picture is dead and alive at the same time, like Schrödinger’s cat. He is on his ninth life, and could be in any desert anywhere in the known Universe.
5. How long did it take you to write it?
Including several drafts after editing and proofing, 10 months from start to publication. I did take much of the summer off to finish it, however.
6. Did you learn anything from the project?
I’ve only written non-fiction so far, for many years, and for a living: hundreds of articles for defence & security journals (such as Jane’s), and conference presentations on counter-terrorism, WMD, bombs, explosives, and the means to stop them. My first book was about the bombing campaign and weapons of the IRA (IRA: The Bombs and the Bullets, Irish Academic Press, 2008).
My first novel was a big learning curve. Friends and colleagues, including one who has written novels, made me realise that it’s a totally different approach. When you write and present technical and instruction material, you tell, not hide – other than the top-secret stuff, that is! It’s the other way round with fiction. Also, self-publishing on Amazon requires all the skills, including online ones, which I’m short on, and which in a former life in publishing was done by other people in the production team. I think you need to be rich to be an author. Some successful authors I know have publicists, agents, etc. If you don’t have those, you have a big job ahead once the book is written. You also have to be good at networking in online communities. I still have a lot to learn and publishing the book is just the start.
7. Do you have an author website and/or blog?
I have a professional website which includes the book
and an Author Page on Amazon and Goodreads. But I really am clueless about all this online blog business. I have probably avoided having a blog as working freelance in counter-terrorism means I have been too busy, and also have to keep my electronic footprint to innocuous Facebook and Twitter posts and bits of promotion. I have avoided hosting a public forum that attracts trolls and people – and me – sounding off about crap. I have plenty of opinions and ideas but so far have kept them offline.
8. Do you have any success tips to pass on to fellow authors? How about any great editors/cover artists?
I am yet to achieve success, so not yet. I wouldn’t be so presumptious to offer advice.
9. What genres do you like to read? Are you open to reading new authors and reviewing their work?
I have to read a lot for the day job – I am also Editor-in-Chief of two magazines, and was working 24/7 until last year so haven’t had much time to read books. But my chosen genres, time permitting, are espionage/military thrillers, crime novels, some biography, books about Ireland, near-future/first contact/dystopian science fiction and vintage science fiction [Bradbury, Clarke, Wyndham, etc]. I would like to review books in these genres, having reviewed three in the past year.
10. What is your favorite book of all time and why?
I have to include two.
The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis
The Good Soldier Schweik by Jaroslav Hasek
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