Thursday, 3 November 2016


Title: Down Station
Author: Simon Morden
Publisher: Gollancz
Release Date: 18th February 2016

BLURB from Goodreads
A small group of commuters and tube workers witness a fiery apocalypse overtaking London. They make their escape through a service tunnel. Reaching a door they step through...and find themselves on a wild shore backed by cliffs and rolling grassland. The way back is blocked. Making their way inland they meet a man dressed in a wolf's cloak and with wolves by his side. He speaks English and has heard of a place called London - other people have arrived here down the ages - all escaping from a London that is burning. None of them have returned. Except one - who travels between the two worlds at will. The group begin a quest to find this one survivor; the one who holds the key to their return and to the safety of London.
And as they travel this world, meeting mythical and legendary creatures,split between North and South by a mighty river and bordered by The White City and The Crystal Palace they realise they are in a world defined by all the London's there have ever been.
Reminiscent of Michael Moorcock and Julian May this is a grand and sweeping science fantasy built on the ideas, the legends, the memories of every London there has ever been.

Award-winning author Simon Morden's stunning quest continues, 
unraveling magic and uncovering secrets on the way...
Title: The White City
Author: Simon Morden
Publisher: Gollancz
Release Date: 4th April 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
Since escaping London's inferno, Mary and Dalip have fought monsters and won - though in the magical world of Down, the most frightening monsters come from within. 

Now they hold the greatest of treasures: maps that reveal the way to the White City, where they can find the answers they're looking for, and learn the secrets of Down. 

But to get there they must rely on Crows, who has already betrayed them at every turn. As they battle their way towards the one place in all of Down without magic, they must ask themselves how far they will go to find their way home. 

After all, if there's one thing the White City offers those brave enough to enter, it's more than they bargained for. 

Goodreads Link

What genre/genres would you place Down Station & The White City into?
This is actually trickier than it sounds. While they’re both Portal Fantasy, and deliberately so, almost everything I write, even the stuff with honest-to-god magic in, is mostly science fiction. So while the magic is real and works, if you lift the bonnet, there’s a scientific rationale for the whole world. Whether it’s a good rationale, I’ll leave to the readers to decide.

Is it a genre you enjoy writing and why?
Who doesn’t love a good portal fantasy? A great many of us were brought up on them, whether it was Narnia or John Carter of Mars, or Peter Pan, or Alice in Wonderland. There’s something both bright – New world! Adventures! Heroes! – and dark – I don’t know how things work! I don’t like the monsters! I don’t know if I can get home! – about the whole scenario. And, naturally, because it’s me, we go to some very dark places really quite quickly. I always maintain that if you’re not enjoying writing the story, it’s going to be obvious to the readers, so it’s important to pick projects that you’re not going to hate half way through (or sooner). The first draft is for the author: the editing is for everyone else.

Do you have a Series name for your Down Station & The White City books yet? If so what is it please? If not are you not having a Series name?
The books are collectively part of the Books of Down.

Could you tell us a little about your overview for your Down Station & The White City books?, and what your plans for it? ie. How many books will there be in the book collection/series?
So there are three planned, of which Down Station and The White City are one and two. There is a sort-of overview, in that the characters who leave our world for Down have to learn how Down works, and try and then use that knowledge for hopefully good, and possibly evil. The law of unintended consequences is a bit of a recurring theme, and those consequences compound as the plot develops.
Hopefully, everything is going to be solved in an emotionally satisfying yet ingenious denouement.

Are the Cover Designs & Titles for the rest of the book collection/series already chosen? (& Who has/is designing the covers for you?)
This is as far as we’ve got – but Blacksheep studio who’ve designed the first two covers have done an absolutely knock out job on them. They’re genuinely vibrant and exciting, and very different from the usual fantasy fair. I love them to bits.

Did you plan out the whole book collection/series or are you planning and writing as you go alone wherever the plot & characters take you in each individual book?
When I proposed the series to Gollancz, I couldn’t just say, “I’ll write you something, it’ll be brilliant!” So there was most of Down Station already done, but not any of The White City, so I made something up and used that as a synopsis. Some of it even ended up in the book. I am, however, a ‘pantser’ by habit. I might have an image or a start, or sometimes an end, but that’s often it. The rest I make up as I go along and just have to trust that my subconscious has got my back.

Do you already know what happens, right up to the last word of the last book in the book collection/series?

And in this case, I know exactly how it’s going to end. What I don’t know is how I’m going to get there. It’s going to be fun finding out.

Do you have any plans for a prequel or novella's to be part of this book collection/series?

No plans, but you’re right: the possibilities of Down are endless. If inspiration strikes, I’ll write it.

How long did it take you to write Down Station, from the original idea to finishing writing it? Did it take longer, shorter or about the same time length to write The White City?
Right then. This probably isn’t the answer you expected, but this is how it happened. I started Down Station in March 2014, as an on spec project. Gollancz bought it and scheduled it for publication February 2016, with a first draft deadline of Christmas 2014: The White City had a provisional publication date of February 2017. So plenty of time.

I found out at Easter 2014 that my father had incurable cancer, and I submitted the first draft of Down Station a day or so before I went down to help my mother look after him in what were to be his final weeks. That was the start of September 2014. I knew that if I didn’t hand the draft in then, I’d never hand the draft in, and Gollancz deserved better than that.

My dad died at the back end of October. I didn’t write a single word until the January, and it was like wading through treacle. I had no idea what I was doing, and even if I wanted to do it, and those first few chapters are pitch black. But they did fit, and slowly I regained my confidence, and it all came spilling out.
I’d finished the first draft by the end of July. That was 98,000 words. After that was a 45,000 word hard SF novella (At the Speed of Light, published next year by Newcon Press) which took six weeks from start to finish, and another on spec project (historical/fantasy adventure) which was 85,000 words and took eight weeks.

I stopped for a bit after that. I think I’d managed to say everything I needed to for that moment. Which is a long way of telling you why The White City is coming out five months early.

Is there anything in the book collection/series so far that you would change now if you could and what would it be?
That’s an almost impossible question to answer, because I was literally a different person when I wrote both Down Station and The White City. And yes, if I was going to write them both now, they’d be different books. But they are what they are. So no, I wouldn’t change anything. You can never go back.

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