By Brian Knight
Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase have stunned the world with their discoveries, from the legendary sword Excalibur to the golden city of El Dorado. Now, by bringing together three ancient statues from three different continents, Nina is about to tap into a colossal energy source—one not felt since the days of Atlantis.
But when the statues are stolen and Eddie is falsely accused of murder, forcing him to go on the run to hunt the man responsible, a violent struggle erupts among a secret, vastly powerful group that wants to control Nina and the earth energy. From a glittering, high-tech skyscraper in Japan to a harrowing chase beneath the Vatican and an underground military vault in Nevada, she and Eddie must piece together an astounding puzzle. For Nina Wilde is the key to a plot that will change the world forever. And Eddie is the key to keeping her alive.
Andy McDermott’s RETURN TO ATLANTIS hits the stands this month, and I was lucky enough to get a chance to chat with Andy about his new contemporary thriller.
Tell us a bit about your new release, RETURN TO ATLANTIS.
It’s the eighth adventure thriller about archaeologist Nina Wilde and former SAS soldier Eddie Chase, who when they first met in THE HUNT FOR ATLANTIS had been hired as her bodyguard, but is now her husband. At the end of the seventh book, EMPIRE OF GOLD, they were separated emotionally and physically – Nina thought she’d witnessed Eddie murder a friend in cold blood, and he’s now on the run trying to prove his innocence. But behind the personal drama is an archaeological mystery and a globe-spanning conspiracy that leads Nina and Eddie back to where everything began… in more ways than one.
Like all my previous books, it’s full of action and excitement, taking its heroes all over the world, but also contains a lot of humour despite the high stakes, which I think is something that makes my novels distinctive. Nina and Eddie are characters I really enjoy writing. They’re very different in terms of personality and background, but the sparks from that clash are a lot of fun.
I love the premise of your story, bringing old mysteries back in a new world setting, and I have a weakness for Atlantis theories. Is Atlantis an old fascination of yours? What are your favourite theories about Atlantis?
If we’re talking about the real world, then I don’t believe that there ever was an ‘Atlantis’; it’s almost certain, based on the archaeological evidence, that Plato was using what he knew of the Minoan civilisation on Crete as a base to propound his sociological theories, mixed in with some flights of pure fantasy. But I didn’t want Atlantis to be in Crete for my story – I wanted it to be right where Plato said it was, in the Atlantic. So bam, it was! Definitely a case of ‘print the legend’.
Atlantis was just one part of a general interest in mythology and science fiction/fantasy that I’d had since I was a kid, but when I was working as a magazine journalist in the 1990s I wrote an article about the many different theories concerning it, from the purely archaeological (Crete and the Minoans) to the outright outlandish (ancient astronauts, that kind of thing). After doing all the research it stuck in my mind as a good hook for an adventure story, and about ten years later I sat down and started writing it.
How heavily do you draw on existing Atlantis theories in RETURN TO ATLANTIS, and how much of the story is fresh speculation?
The Atlantis in this book is complete fiction, although still based on what Plato wrote about it in his dialogues. But I wanted to keep everything consistent within this fictional universe, so this time we find out the answer to one of the biggest mysteries of all – why Atlantis sank. The reason is not only connected to what Nina and Eddie have discovered in their past adventures, but also the beginnings of life on Earth itself. There are powerful factions working to ensure Nina and Eddie find the truth, for their own shadowy purposes – and others attempting to prevent them, by any means necessary…
You have an impressive backlist with Bantam and Headline, and compelling characters in Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase. Which of their adventures is your favourite? How does RETURN TO ATLANTIS stack up to them, in your opinion?
Oddly, two of my favourites are stories that have generally been slightly less well-reviewed by readers – The Tomb Of Hercules and The Cult Of Osiris (The Pyramid Of Doom in the US). The former I like because of the sheer amount of unrelenting action I managed to squeeze into it and the character of Eddie’s ex-wife Sophia, and the latter because of Macy, who was not only tremendous fun to write but also gave me the chance to show Nina in particular through someone else’s eyes, her flaws as well as her good points. I also loved turning Eddie loose amidst the glamour of the Monaco Grand Prix! But I’m really happy with Return To Atlantis (or Temple Of The Gods, as it’s called in the UK). It ties up all the ongoing threads in the series to date in quite a spectacular manner, and I think it’s probably my best book yet.
Please tell us a bit about yourself. What are the lifelong interests and obsessions that turned you into the writer you are?
Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to create – it wasn’t enough just to have stories told to me, I wanted to make my own. So I was writing from a very young age, and that eventually led to a career in journalism and as a movie critic. But again, that wasn’t enough. I didn’t want simply to be reporting on what other people had done – I wanted to tell my own stories. So eventually I took a huge gamble and quit my job to write full-time… or at least until my savings ran out. Fortunately, I made my first sale before that happened – just.
People have often said that my novels seem like movies in book form (I think one of the best compliments I’ve ever had was when someone was trying to remember the name of a film in which she’d seen a particular action sequence, before realising it wasn’t a film at all but one of my books), and cinema has been a huge influence on me. There’s possibly a degree of the frustrated director in my work; Hollywood’s not going to give me $200 million to make my dream adventure movie… but I can still write it anyway!
What is your opinion of writer’s block? Serious creative affliction or mental laziness?
It feels pretty serious when I get it! Fortunately it doesn’t happen to me that often, but when it does it’s agonisingly frustrating. On some of my books I’ve ‘hit the wall’, resulting in a great deal of pacing and swearing. Usually taking a break, either physically with a change of scenery or mentally by doing something totally unrelated to writing, for a couple of weeks clears it… but not always. On what I’d intended to be the ninth Wilde/Chase novel, I was two-thirds of the way through before grinding to a halt, and nothing I did helped me advance. It took me a while to realise why; simply put, the story just didn’t work (the plot was over-complicated and rendered Nina and Eddie too passive for large parts of it), and because of that I wasn’t having any fun writing it. If I’m not enjoying creating a story, why would anyone enjoy reading it? So I scrapped the entire thing. It was a hard decision, because it represented several months’ labour, but sometimes you have to cut your losses.
Each writer works differently. Some rush through their first draft and save revisions for later, others craft each paragraph to near perfection in their first draft and require no more than a light dusting in their second. What kind of writer are you? Tell us a bit about your writing process?
I’m a ‘power through the first draft’ kind of writer, to the extent that I don’t even look back over what I’ve written until it’s done. Then it’s a case of edit, edit, edit! I plan the entire story in a lot of detail before starting to write, so I don’t usually have to make many structural changes; it’s mostly cutting and polishing. I’ve tried different approaches, but this is what works for me. I aim to spend two months planning a novel, two months writing the first draft, and two months editing it. My current publishing schedule gives me more flexibility than that, but I still try to hit those marks. I don’t like not working.
Who are your favourite writers, old and new?
Isaac Asimov, Alistair MacLean, Ian Fleming, Roald Dahl, Craig Thomas, Tom Clancy up to The Sum Of All Fears (after which his books became too divorced from reality and polemical), Matthew Reilly, Iain M Banks. And I’ll give a quick shout-out to some friends, Scott Mariani and Tricia Walker.
What do we have to look forward to after RETURN TO ATLANTIS?
I’ve written what I hope will be the first book of a new thriller series – something a bit more ‘realistic’ than the Wilde/Chase novels, though still with plenty of action – that comes out in 2013. I’d tell you the title, but my publishers and I haven’t agreed on it yet! It’s a spy thriller, but with a high-tech twist. After that will come a ninth Nina and Eddie adventure, which I’m currently researching and hope to start writing in a couple of months.
Thanks for talking to me, Andy. Best of luck with RETURN TO ATLANTIS.
Andy McDermott is a former journalist and movie critic who now writes novels full-time following the international success of his New York Times bestselling debut thriller, THE HUNT FOR ATLANTIS, which has been sold around the world in more than twenty languages. He is also the author of THE TOMB OF HERCULES, THE SECRET OF EXCALIBUR, THE COVENANT OF GENESIS, THE PYRAMID OF DOOM, THE SACRED VAULT, and EMPIRE OF GOLD. He lives in Bournemouth, England.
To learn more about Andy, please visit his website.