"Vance Huxley created a wonderful story that was intriguing from the beginning with very entertaining sections as well as some emotional ones that made the plot even stronger. He has shown his excellent writing skills in this engaging novel." - Michelle, Goodreads
The world is falling apart. Terrorists spark a worldwide oil and gas crisis while imports grind to a halt. Europe and Britain are erupting into chaos as food runs out and desperate people take matters into their own hands.
As the government begins to seal off rioting parts of the city, Corporal Harry Miller takes an offered discharge to get his sister and her kids to safety. But he’s not fast enough. Trapped in the city with a rag-tag collection of ordinary citizens, Harry struggles to create a small pocket of stability - a place to ride out the coming confrontation between rioters and the Army, and save themselves from complete annihilation.
How long have you been writing?
Five years. I wrote for three years but not as books, more as a learning exercise and to occupy myself. My first book, Fall of the Cities I - Planting the Orchard, was published in late 2015, two years and six books ago.
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
I get an idea, and it sort of rolls about in my head for a while. If it firms up I start to write. Some of the part-books on my computer are half a dozen key scenes that need a world and scenario fitting around them. Others are ten lines, or six thousand words. Fall of the Cities started in my head as some of the events in book IV, but the scenario they happened in had to develop first. Thinking of how that world came about gave me book one, and away we went.
I've got a rough outline of the series now, but the detail lives in my head and is still evolving.
Chapters happen, I never plan them (Ask my editor :-).
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
I start a book with a small cast of characters, maybe only one though he or she soon has companions. As the book progresses, those characters and the situations they are in need more characters. I tend to name even minor characters, so if they catch my author eye they can grow and play a larger part in the book. A few actually change the course of the writing.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
Very little. I research as I write, to suit each situation. My internet searches are probably in a big red file in the Secret Services building (MI5). How to build a pipe bomb. What size and distribution of nuclear devices will destroy London the most efficiently. Will a slash or stab incapacitate the victim longer and which takes longest to heal.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
There was a man, and a woman, and a meeting. Neither are what they seem, and both have walked the valley of death on their way to this day. Sparks, and something changes for both of them. But how did their world get so dark and why were they, and everyone else, left in this situation. Cue an article on giant oil refineries, proposing that in twenty years half of the world's refining could be done in less than ten refineries.
Why would someone want to destroy them? That would cause chaos, and starvation because vast amounts of food are shipped to the populations in cities. If the someone wanted chaos, and to cut the world population, how would they stop governments reacting? Kill them. A plane full of explosives into a Joint Session of Congress, a pocket nuke under the Russian Parliament, a Chechen suicide squad storming the Kremlin, nerve gas in a meeting of the Chinese leadership. It would only take a few days without firm leadership for panic to hit, and if the likes of ISI took their chance?
How long would it take to plan that? How many plotters...
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Writing the first complete draft. It's exciting, getting the idea down while it is still fresh. The multiple edits and rewrites just aren't as much fun.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
Harold comes from a broken home and joined the Army to escape. He learned to shoot in a rifle club but finds out he can't pull the trigger with a human in the sights. When he finally has to find a way, he has nightmares about his victims. Then his big sister and her kids are in danger so he finds a way to justify his killing, to protect others, but he never really comes to terms with it.
Liz the smith only learned to work metal to make ornaments and meet blacksmiths because muscles turn her on. She is very strong for a woman, and mad as hell about the local scroats, but when she tries to do something about it she can't. She freezes, can't even defend herself, and it eats at her. Instead she cracks jokes, and makes the nastiest weapons she can so the likes of Soldier Boy can kill the scroats for her.
Casper the Gay Giant, or Orchard Fairy as he calls himself, never really came out properly. His parents disapproved, and he didn't like the flamboyantly gay scene so he lived quietly on his own. Then he met Harold, who rescued him and didn't care if Casper was gay as long as he'd help him hide a body. Casper makes gay jokes about kidnapping lumberjacks, and threatens gangsters with gay searches, in some sort of euphoria because he's out of the closet and none of these people mind. He loves them for it, and would die for any one of them.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Not yet, I'm still working on it.
How did you come up with the title of your first novel?
I came up with 'Planting the Orchard' because the refugees arrive in a road called Orchard Close, where they dig in and fortify. The series name, Fall of the Cities, came later and describes what is happening to them and others.
Do you see writing as a career?
No. I'm seventy and retired (allegedly). I'll write as long as I can, because now I've started I have lots of ideas. With a bit of luck I won't leave a series part-finished, but if so I hope someone finishes it. I've told my daughter where to find all my storylines.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
That hasn't been out long enough for me to have regrets. :-) I would change something in my first book, Fall of the Cities - Planting the Orchard, if I could. The opening is very military, to introduce the main character, but the series is about a disparate group of civilians struggling to survive. If I could redo it, I would write the opening scenes as a flashback later in the book.
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I've found that magical entities can have emotions just like people.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Unknown UK actors and actresses from the locations in the book (mainly around Birmingham) so they naturally spoke with the right accents. I dislike many of Hollywood's attempts to copy an accent, and many famous actors 'colour' their roles with their perceived personas.
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Please write reviews. Even if you don't give the book many stars, I'd love to know why because I'm still learning. I'm sure other authors feel the same.
What do you think about the current publishing market?
Sheer bedlam. There are so many books being published every month that the better ones are simply swamped unless the author is very lucky. Unfortunately many self-published books are not edited properly (though others are superb), so taking a dive into the unknown can result in reading a book that is really hard work. That doesn't encourage new readers to keep trying.
Do you have a favorite movie? Which of your novels can you imagine made into
It has been many years since I saw a movie because moving images give me migraines (no TV for me :-). I loved Top Gun, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Either Fall of the Cities or Ferryl Shayde would, I believe, make a good film. A disaster movie and a YA Fantasy.
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About the author:
Vance Huxley lives out in the countryside in Lincolnshire, England. He has spent a busylife working in many different fields – including the building and rail industries, as a workshop manager, trouble‐shooter for an engineering firm, accountancy, cafe proprietor, and graphic artist. He also spent time in other jobs, and is proud of never being dismissed, and only once made redundant.
Eventually he found his Noeline, but unfortunately she died much too young. To help with the aftermath, Vance tried writing though without any real structure. As an editor and beta readers explained the difference between words and books, he tried again.
Now he tries to type as often as possible in spite of the assistance of his cats, since his legs no longer work well enough to allow anything more strenuous. An avid reader of sci‐fi, fantasy and adventure novels, his writing tends towards those genres.