Michael Cobley is the author of a dark epic fantasy trilogy, the Shadowkings, published through Simon and Schuster, and has just published The Seeds of Earth, first in a galaxy-spanning space opera series, through Orbit.
An Interview with Michael Cobley by Ian Whates
You’re probably best known as a fantasy writer, following the success of your Shadowkings trilogy. How difficult was it to find a publisher for your subsequent SF series, Humanity’s Fire?
I had a lot of personal trepidation, having left Simon and Schuster, who published Shadowkings. S&S went through some financial difficulties associated with their parent company, Viacom, which impacted further down, ie me and some other SF & fantasy authors. So when it came to attracting publisher in the Humanitys Fire project, it was an anxious time. Luckily my second editor at S&S, Darren Nash, went to work for Orbit and as it turned out, he took a distinct liking to the material and the outlines and offered a contract. Of course, it was also a distinct advantage to have MBA lit agents representing me, in the person of John Parker who now has his own independent literary agency, Zeno, who I am now with.
Tell us a little of what we can expect from Humanity’s Fire, particularly the first volume, The Seeds of Earth.
Well, Humanity’s Fire is not just the overarching name of the trilogy, it’s intended to be the signature name, if you will, of that entire fictional universe in which I hope to be writing further epics in years to come. Seeds of Earth is a kind of remix of some almost traditional space opera themes, the lost colony, interstellar empires, mass propaganda, the clash of mysteries, ancient galactic wars. There is quite a bit of backstory which the opening prologue encapsulates, and the whole intermingling of interstellar and interspecies politics makes for a background with ample potential for gonzo melodrama! Without giving away too much, I can say that in plotting out the Humanitys Fire trilogy I`ve kinda followed the 24 school of narrative concealment, in that the Big-Bad isn’t who the reader might think it to be even by some way into the second book. The third book, The Ascendant Stars, will be quite cataclysmic and I looking forward to writing it.
How much of a challenge was it to write parts of the narrative from a non-human sentient’s perspective?
I answered a similar question to this a week or two ago