The name Kevin J Anderson means a lot to many readers. He has more than 20 million books in print worldwide, most of which belong to some of the biggest and most beloved series the world has ever know: Star Wars, StarCraft, Titan A.E., The X-Files and the Dune prequels (with Brian Herbert).
In 2011 the Nebula Award-nominated author continued to show that he is inspired rather than daunted by a challenge when his latest work, Captain Nemo: The Fantastic Adventures of a Dark Genius, was published. Taking the reader behind Jules Verne's enigmatic, mysterious loner Captain Nemo, Anderson has written an exhilarating tale that spans a lifetime from childhood dreams and fantasies to life on the high seas and adulthood. We loved it (it is the current Book of the Month) and the book's reviewer Daniel Cann caught up with Kevin and asked him some questions in October 2011.
Do you know no fear? Writing a novel about such an icon of fiction in Captain Nemo must have been such a daunting task, what made you decide to do it?
I would call it love instead of fear! The works of Jules Verne were a formative part of my childhood and they made a huge impact - first the film version of 20,000 Leagues, Mysterious Island, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Around the World in Eighty Days, In Search of the Castaways, Master of the World, Five Weeks in a Balloon, From the Earth to the Moon. Then I started reading the classics. The idea for CAPTAIN NEMO came in a flash, because I had always been fascinated by the tortured, tragic man who declared “war on war” (thank you, James Mason and Herbert Lom) and I wanted to know what his life story was… and then I added the real Jules Verne to the mix, and wondered if Nemo's “actual” adventures had inspired Verne's novels… and if so, then Nemo must have done a lot more things.
How much research did you do into the Nemo character and how difficult was it to create his back story?
I have written a hundred novels, and I don't think I've ever put so much research into a single project. I spent about three years re-reading all of the Verne classics, then Verne biographies, then histories of the period, background novels on sailing ships. I needed to have that foundation before I could plot the story properly and make all the pieces fit together.
To what extent was the Nemo novel planned in advance, or did it evolve as you wrote?
I always outline very carefully. Because the events in the plot are so dependent upon events in Verne's real life, as well as the order in which he published his novels, I had a general framework set out by real events, but after I had embraced all the background research, then I tackled the plot in detail.
Are there any projects out there that you hope to tackle in a similar vein to Nemo, any other famous characters that you wish to explore?
I do have another novel in the same vein, MR. WELLS & THE MARTIANS, which Titan will also be releasing, the story of young HG Wells and his mentor, TH Huxley, heading off to Mars to stop the war of the worlds…and there's also Dr. Moreau, Percival Lowell, the Invisible Man, the First Men in the Moon, Food of the Gods, just about all of the major works of Wells.
Will there be more Nemo stories or was your novel a 'one off'?
I didn't plan this as a series—I pretty much followed Nemo's life from childhood, and used up all the Verne connections I could find. I want this to be a completely satisfying standalone novel.
Do you prefer it when you work on solo projects or when you collaborate with other authors?
(I know that's a cute answer, but I really do enjoy both…which is why I keep doing both. More than half of my published novels were in collaboration with my wife Rebecca Moesta, or Brian Herbert, or Doug Beason, or Dean Koontz, or Kristine Kathryn Rusch, or John Betancourt. I like the brainstorming and riffing off of another author's ideas, but I also like to work solo.)
What can your fans expect from you in the future?
I've put a lot of my books, including some new works, up as eBooks at http://www.wordfirepress.com. Brian Herbert and I will be publishing SISTERHOOD OF DUNE on January 3, and we're editing the manuscript of HELLHOLE AWAKENING. I just published a prequel novella to my Saga of Seven Suns series, VEILED ALLIANCES, and I'll be doing a “next generation” trilogy set in that universe, The Saga of Shadows. I have a big SF novella as the first half of TAU CETI (the other half written by Steve Savile) out next month. For something completely different, I have a series of three humorous horror novels starring Dan Shamble, zombie PI; the first two—DEATH WARMED OVER and UNNATURAL ACTS—are written and will be out starting next September. And, as I mentioned above, if you liked CAPTAIN NEMO, then you'll also be interested in MR. WELLS & THE MARTIANS.
To keep up to date with Kevin Anderson and to find out what he is up to next, read his blog at http://kjablog.com/
The young Verne and his best friend Andre Nemo stow away on a ship bound for the high seas, but Jules' father catches Jules and forces him to come home in total disgrace. Nemo goes on to have all the adventures, battling pirates, fighting sea monsters, being shipwrecked, ballooning across Africa etc. Jules eventually turns these real life tales of his friend into his popular novels.
"This hugely ambitious project takes the reader behind Jules Verne’s enigmatic, mysterious loner Captain Nemo (called Andre Nemo here). Anderson provides us with an exhilarating tale that spans a lifetime from childhood dreams and fantasies with friends Jules Verne (a masterstroke by Anderson) and Caroline Aronnax, to life on the high seas and adulthood." Fantasy Book Review
This novel was brilliant, imaginative, thrilling, horrific and inventive. The Martians of course are the star attraction: they are truly repellent and terrifying. The threat level posed to earth is excellently conveyed, the suspense is cranked right up as the drama unfolds.
The Key to Creation sees an end to Kevin J Anderson’s terrific Terra Incognita trilogy. It had a tough act to follow thanks to the superb The Map of All Things which set up an impressive array of plot threads in need of resolution. Suffice to say that Anderson resolves everything succinctly here.