Interview: Peter F. Hamilton

image003peter-f-hamilton-copyright-neil-langPeter F. Hamilton’s latest novel Night Without Stars is released by Pan Macmillan on September 22nd, a follow-up to his recent The Abyss Beyond Dreams. Born in Rutland in 1960, Hamilton began writing in 1987, and sold his first short story to Fear magazine in 1988. He has written many bestselling novels, including the Greg Mandel series, the Night’s Dawn trilogy, the Commonwealth Saga, the Void trilogy, short-story collections and several standalone novels including Fallen Dragon and Great North Road. Mark Chitty took the opportunity to pose some key questions:



How did you get into writing, and why science fiction?

Writing was always something I’d considered doing, the idea (impulse?) to start grew steadily during my twenties, so I eventually went out and bought a typewriter. As to why SF, it was the genre I enjoyed reading the most, so in my mind that was the obvious field to write in.

From your early novels featuring Greg Mandel through to your latest, Night Without Stars, it’s been clear that worldbuilding is a big part of your stories. How important is this to you?

Very! It’s all very well to have a plot, but unless the setting is one which is plausible the story becomes unbelievable. Putting a fully functional world / universe together is my first priority, I’ll spend months making sure all the aspects work together.

One of your strengths is giving us multiple characters offering a variety of viewpoints. But how do you decide on the different voices that will be necessary to tell the story?

It’s a chicken and egg situation. I like to provide as much balance to a story as possible; everyone has a reason for doing what they do, and just because I personally don’t share their opinion doesn’t mean it’s not valid. So main characters are chosen for their outlook on what’s happening, which in turn gives them their behaviour and motivation, which colours their voice.

abyssThe Abyss Beyond Dreams and Night Without Stars are great jumping on places to your novels. But other than these, what would you recommend to a reader new to your work?

Either of my short story collections, A Second Chance At Eden, or Manhattan In Reverse. If short stories aren’t your thing, I’d say try one of my two stand-alone novels; Fallen Dragon or Great North Road.

There’s been a greater output of quality science fiction TV shows and mini-series of late – both from original ideas and novel adaptions. Do you have a favourite among these, or any you’d recommend? And have any recent films caught your attention?

I’ve just finished binge-watching Stranger Things on Netflix, which I liked. I haven’t got round to watching The Expanse, and I’ll probably take a look at the new Star Trek series when it comes out. In films, my son is a huge Star Wars fan – I don’t take much persuading to take him to the cinema for that.

Do you still get time to read current releases? And are there any authors or books you would recommend while we’re waiting for the next PFH fix?!

Revenger by Al Reynolds which is due out a week before Night Without Stars. Sadly my to-be-read pile is now so big I’d have to stop everything else to get through it.

Speaking of our next fix, can you give us any titbits on what you’re working on now?

It’s called the Salvation Sequence, which will be a trilogy. It’s set in a completely new universe.

Can you take us briefly through your journey from idea to publication? Do you approach each novel/series differently?

It’s quite a simple process: after I’ve come up with the new idea/plot, I’ll spend several months (typically six) refining the structure and developing the worlds and characters before I start writing the book itself. This process is always the same – don’t try to fix something that works.



Night Without Stars by Peter F. Hamilton is published on 22nd September by Macmillan

Author photograph copyright Neil Lang and used with permission; thanks to Sophie Goodfellow at ed PR for arranging this interview

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