It's always brilliant to find a new series that contains all the aspects I enjoy in books. Dean Crawford's Ethan Warner series is super fun so I asked him a little more about what lies behind the stories …
Your books have aspects of legend, archaeology and conspiracies. What draws you to a particular idea for the books and what's been fascinating you lately?
I’m always drawn to aspects of the paranormal that have the strongest element of truth to them. It’s not enough for me to hear about a myth or legend and just go write a novel about it. I like hearing about events or experiences that have actual evidence to support them, something tangible that a story can be built around that readers of my book can look up on Google and say: “Hey, that really did happen / exist!”
Mankind’s history is littered with countless examples of the unexplained that demand further research. My Ethan Warner series of novels have explored many of them, from evidence of ancient cultures’ interaction with advanced technology in Covenant and The Nemesis Origin, to extending human longevity in Immortal, time travel in Apocalypse and crypto-zoology in The Chimera Secret.
At the moment, my big fascination is with the ability of science to literally see our thoughts on screens: the technology has been developed in Japan and I’ve used it in my latest novel, The Identity Mine, where a terrorist cell is able to hijack human minds using technology that actually exists today.
You write fast paced thrillers, so what's your most thrilling experience, for research or just for fun?
Without a doubt, aviation. As a result of research I’ve done on several novels I’m now in the final stages of training for my Private Pilot’s License.
However for technology research into my novel Apocalypse I studied the world of Virtual Reality, and now I own an Oculus Rift VR headset. The ability to witness worlds that most of us would normally have no access to, such as orbiting the Earth, flying a fighter plane or the space shuttle or driving a Formula 1 car is utterly enthralling.
As a result of staring down at the Earth in VR once and experiencing something almost emotional, it being so realistic, I was compelled to start writing a series of space opera novels ( think Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica etc ).
The Atlantia Series, about a former prison ship populated by an uneasy alliance of soldiers and former convicts fleeing an apocalypse that is spreading across the galaxy, is now five books strong and running well. I really enjoy writing the impossible and making it believable at the same time, and the Atlantia books let me stretch technology to the limit in a universe where anything can happen.
Do you travel for research? What places do you love the most that appear in your books?
I don’t travel for research, as the Internet provides so much research data. I know that a lot of authors like to travel to get a “feel” for places, but I think that part of the art of writing is convincing the reader you’ve been somewhere when in fact you’ve never visited a place. I often get comments from readers lauding my back-street knowledge of one city or another, which is the highest accolade I could expect when I haven’t actually visited those places.
How much of you is in Ethan Warner? Feel free to give specific examples from books and your life 🙂
Ethan Warner is, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, not based on me at all. Like Ethan I do have some military experience, having trained with the British Army’s airborne infantry in the Territorial Army as a teenager.
I actually based Ethan on Indiana Jones due to the nature of his go-getting attitude, tenacity and robust nature, and felt that those attributes are what most people would like to see in themselves. People are naturally drawn to uncompromising characters, as they represent the kind of attitude that we might all like to possess but our lives generally do not allow us to display.
I think perhaps Ethan’s open mind toward the paranormal and the unexplained comes from me. Although I’m one hundred per cent a fan of science, which has achieved so much in our world, I do keep one eye on the paranormal and often find that behind the veil of the scientific method there is a surprising amount of interest in such phenomena from scientists too.
Although it’s not explicitly stated in the novels, Ethan is also an atheist, like me. He doesn’t see any value in elevating blind faith above evidence.
What are the themes that keep coming up in your work? What links the series' together?
A strong theme that has developed in my work is that of anti-corporate power. It wasn’t something I consciously thought about before but over time, during research for numerous novels that involved the militarization of technology, I’ve seen considerable evidence for the control of our governments by business interests.
Presidents are bought, literally, their seat in the White House by the major corporations who finance their campaigns. Politicians in all countries are lobbied to ensure that companies who can afford to buy their loyalty continue to make profits, the needs of the ordinary people in the street over-ridden. This is not democracy, nor is it isocracy, it is government by an elite and it’s something that keeps rising to the surface in the books. Ethan Warner and his partner Nicola Lopez often find themselves combating this nefarious rise of the military-industrial complex.
Where are you in the world and what does your writing space look like? Give us a hint of behind the scenes.
I’m fortunate enough to live in Surrey, UK, in one of the most desirable locations in the country. My office is a small one in our home, where I live with my wife and daughter. To be able to run a business with a six-figure turnover from a desk that’s no more than one metre square is a huge thrill for me, and much of that success is down to a willingness on my part to embrace both traditional publishing and the now-huge independent publishing method.
My working day is 8am – 4pm, Monday to Friday, but I also work most evenings too doing cover-designs for my books and paperwork for Fictum Ltd, my own publishing label. I’ve also just started a proper marketing campaign for my books, something I’ve neglected somewhat while building a decent-sized list of independent titles. My latest title, The Identity Mine, is the first to have a planned launch campaign behind it. All the others have launched on word-of-mouth, so I’m eager to see how the book does.
On my desk right now is my Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset, my gaming joystick and throttle ( I’m just a big kid really ), some books for my Pilot’s License exams and my Dead-Fred pen holder. From my office, I can sit and look out across our garden as I dream up the next scene in my books.
What are a few of the books you love and that you'd recommend readers check out?
Since independent publishing became a “thing” I barely get the chance to read as I’m also working so hard, but big favourites of mine include Wilbur Smith’s A Falcon Flies, Tim Willock’s Green River Rising and anything by Michael Crichton.
As I’m settling better into my new publishing schedule I’m hoping to find time again to read books by other authors, particularly more by A.G. Riddle, Nick ( Endi ) Webb, Celina Grace, David Gledhill and others.