This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2016, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or with the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.
At the beginning of 2015, you may have seen me obsessing over a book called New Pompeii, by Daniel Godfrey, which sounded like a Jurassic Park-inspired novel focused around Pompeii – basically my dream novel. With career ambitions focused around archaeology, I cannot get enough of anything set around the ancient world – especially if there’s a clever sci-fi spin to it.
Cut to one year later, and New Pompeii turned up on my doorstep, thanks to the excellent Titan Books. And then when I announced that Sci-Fi Month was returning for 2016, I soon noticed that a certain Daniel Godfrey had signed up for the event. It must be fate, right? Daniel was kind enough to let me interview him, so without further ado…
What gave you the inspiration for New Pompeii?
Daniel: New Pompeii came out of basically trying to do too many things at once: I was playing around with a few short stories that I’d written some years before – all relating to paradox and multiple timelines – whilst at the same time reading about ancient Rome. I’ve always been interested in Rome – it crops up in a lot of science fiction – and the two things came together because…
Why did you choose Pompeii in particular to bring through time?
Daniel: … of an interesting anomaly. One of the most deeply unsettling things about Pompeii are the plaster casts of its victims. In the best (or worst!) of these, you can see the expression of terror on the person’s face at the moment of their death. And yet there aren’t many of these casts: most of the remains simply haven’t been found – even though we know there were few, if any, survivors. Of course, they could have run but we know a lot of Pompeii was still very much active right up to the point of its destruction. Commercial ovens were found full of baking bread, for example. Painters and decorators were also out fixing things. So it just sort of worked: the plaster casts, the volcano, the missing people…
If you had the chance to visit any place in history, where would you go and why?
Daniel: I’d have loved to have witnessed some of the space race in the 1960s. For all the excitement of the last couple of years in terms of visiting Pluto and Rosetta/Philae, I don’t think it comes close to the competition between the USSR and USA which culminated in Apollo.
Do you see any similarities between yourself and any of your characters?
Daniel: A-ha! No, bu I’ve heard a few writers at conventions say every character harbours a part of them. And when I had lunch with my editor in the summer, I made a comment which she said sounded just like [CHARACTER]. But I’m not going to say who!
What are your top science fiction novels and films?
Daniel: I’m a child of the 1980s, so in terms of films it would be The Empire Strikes Back, and Back to the Future. A lot of people say that Luke staring at the twin suns of Tatooine is the key shot of Star Wars – for me though it’s the arrival in the carbon freezing chamber aboard Cloud City: Vader already waiting and silhouetted in orange light. “You are not a Jedi yet…”
More recently, I’ve enjoyed things like Minority Report and Edge of Tomorrow. In terms of novels, I really like Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy. Now completely superseded by the prequels and Episode VII of course, but still a lot of fun, and I think it’s interesting Disney are bringing Thrawn back to the TV shows but in a different era. Whether he’ll work in another context…? I hope so!
Who would be your dream dinner party guests, dead, alive or fictional (!), related to science fiction?
Daniel: Given what I’ve just put above… can I have Grand Admiral Thrawn?
If so, then the party would be Thrawn, Dana Sculley, Captain Picard, The Doctor and Amy Pond, and Ellen Ripley!
Thank you so much to Daniel for letting me interview him! He has also kindly provided a signed copy of New Pompeii for one lucky reader.
Please note that this giveaway is limited to the UK only. Apologies to my readers outside the UK!
Daniel Godfrey is the author of New Pompeii, which was published by Titan Books in June 2016. He is also currently working on a sequel to New Pompeii. Daniel can be reached through the following links: