Author Interview: G.M. Nair

Michael Duckett is fed up with his life. His job is a drag, and his roommate and best friend of fifteen years, Stephanie Dyer, is only making him more anxious with her lazy irresponsibility. Things continue to escalate when they face the threat of imminent eviction from their palatial 5th floor walk-up and find that someone has been plastering ads all over the city for their Detective Agency.

The only problem is: they don’t have one of those.

Despite their baffling levels of incompetence, Stephanie eagerly pursues this crazy scheme and drags Michael, kicking and screaming, into the fray. Stumbling upon a web of missing people curiously linked by a sexually audacious theoretical physicist and his experiments with the fabric of space-time, the two of them find that they are way out of their depth. But unless Michael and Stephanie can put their personal issues aside and patch up the hole they tore in the multi-verse, the concept of existence itself may, ironically, cease to exist.

You can find my review of Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hirehere. In the meantime, as part of the fabulous Escapist Book Tours (book your tour here) blog tour, here is my exclusive interview with the man himself.

I think the question everyone wants to ask, and I’m sorry for going in such a formulaic direction right off the bat, is how much variation between realities is required for sex with an alternate version of oneself to no longer count as masturbation, and how much variation between realities is required for sex with an alternate version of one’s spouse to begin to count as cheating? And as a follow-up question, how many versions of oneself and / or one’s spouse is it considered “fine” to accidentally explode due to one’s dampening unit coming off as a result of excessive lubricant use or insertion in orifi and / or crevici?

Yeah, this is a pretty boilerplate question, but what can I expect from such a hack journalist?

But I signed up for this, so fuck me, I guess?

Anyway, the answer is simple. As long as there’s genetic variation between the two alternate selves, it no longer counts as masturbation and, conversely, sex with an alternate, genetically distinct spouse counts as cheating. If the alternate universe merely changes circumstances/events and not the participants’ genes, it is masturbation. But, on the other hand, sex with the alternate spouse DOES still count as cheating, because while the genes of the spouse may not have changed, the circumstances (no matter how small) may have altered the spouse(s)’s personality, effectively making them a different person. This, of course, changes with respect to those couples who are in polyamorous or open relationships.

As for the explosion question, probably only one is acceptable, because afterwards the rest of the variants will avoid you because they know you don’t practice safe sex.

Next question.

Your bio says you have degrees in Aerospace Engineering and that you work as an Aviation and Aerospace Consultant, but I’ve read enough text produced by engineers to know you are clearly an impostor. What’s with that?

 

 

I never said I was a GOOD engineer. Next question!

 

 

 

 

On your website you have a standing offer to answer crazy questions using science (send mail to NairForceOne@gmail.com, put “[BACK OF THE ENVELOPE]” in your subject line). Have you ever encountered a question that was either too crazy, or too difficult, to publish? Or can “multiverse” basically cover every conceivable base and are you as amazed as I am that the scientific consensus hasn’t adopted it as the explanation for everything yet? It would, for example, have greatly simplified the recent pandemic.

To my great chagrin, I haven’t received very many questions for that column! So I’ve pretty much put out every single question that’s been posed to me. But, yes, ‘because multiverse’ could be an explanation for a great many things, if I were a HACK.

Next question.

 

 

You’ve been working on an epic space opera for a couple of decades. As someone who’s loved your Duckett & Dyer worldbuilding so far, “The Centre of All Things” sounded immediately exciting and tantalising. Care to tell us a little more? Have your recent triumphs inspired you and are we any closer to seeing your magnum opus in print? Or if you’ve already talked about this a whole bunch because we’re quite a long way down the tour list, can you tell us which performing artist should have been the fourth Beatle (YOU ALL KNOW WHICH ONE I’M REPLACING)?

The Centre of All Things? Oh man, you really did your homework. I guess you’re not as much of a hack as I’ve been telling everyone you are.

Wait, what-

But, you can actually see some of the first parts of The Centre of All Things out on the internet already. I cleaned up some of my older drafts and put the first few chapters of it up on Kindle’s serialized platform Vella. But I’ve since realized my laziness production schedule doesn’t really allow for frequent serialized updates, and I’m much better when I have a longer timeframe to put together a full book. I’m not sure when I’ll have the confidence to finalize my mrhollands opus, but hopefully before I die?

You can find Centre here, if you don’t mind working with the semi-beta Kindle Vella platform, along with Birds of a Feather Flock Forever, which is the beginnings of an urban fantasy with big Duckett & Dyer energy.

Also, Fatty Arbuckle.

Next. Question.

You’re part of a sketch group based in New York City and some of your comedy scripts are hilariously reminiscent and clearly inspired Duckett & Dyer. Have you had many opportunities to see your writing performed on stage, and how great would it be to see “Duckett & Dyer: Dirty Rotten Lyres: A Renaissance Faire Murder Mystery: The Musical!” on Broadway?

(Ben Brantley said it was basically “Galavant” meets “Bill & Ted.” And not in a good way. Caitlin Huston called it “the greatest atrocity ever put to Corvus Corax music.” Although I think she did mean that in a good way.)

I’ve had a good number of opportunities to see my work performed on stage. It’s always a mix of ‘thrilled to see actors performing my work’ and ‘upset that I think some of my dialogue could always be better’.

I’ve never been much of a Broadway guy, so a Duckett & Dyer Musical might be a hard sell. But a normal stage play, you might have my attention.

Next question?

Stephanie Dyer’s evolution from hilarious, infuriating agent of chaos to heart-wrenching best friend (still with quite a lot of chaos) is something I compared to a John Candy character arc. Since I don’t have a question about that and just wanted to congratulate you again on making me cry a bit while reading such a silly book, what’s your favourite John Candy movie and why is it “Cool Runnings”?

“Cool Runnings” is the quintessential heroes journey with an already lovable cast of misfits that the presence of the big JC just elevates into sports movie greatness.

I don’t usually like sports movies, but I like THAT sports movie.

Proxima Pregunta.

 

This week’s leg of the blog tour has brought you to Hatboy’s Hatstand up in Finland, and The Nerdy Nook which, I did some snooping and they’re based in Minnesota. Ignoring the fact that this is all happening electronically and none of us actually got off our butts and went anywhere and this is all utterly nonsensical and everything is futile, I think we’d all like to know what you packed in your a) imaginary steamer trunk and b) make-believe cabin baggage for the seventeen trips back and forth between the two locations that you pretend-completed in the course of this tour stop?

a) My trunk would be filled with stuffed animals, eggs, and letters from my sweetie.

b) My cabin baggage would be filled with a laptop, an e-reader (for books), a tablet (for comic books), and about 3 more eggs.

c) Next Question.

 

 

You have clearly decided to lean into the joyous existential preposterousness of Twitter rather than its potential for misinformation and anonymous mean-spiritedness. Would you care to justify that decision, or has this question just answered itself for you?

 

 

Honestly, I think I should be meaner.

Next fucking question.

 

 

 

 

Remember how people used to go places and meet other people? How much of that do / did you generally do in the before times, and aside from Finland (where you would stay in my garage with a word processor and no connection to the outside world of your own free will), where would you most like to travel if you’re into that sort of thing?

 

After I finished my Master’s in the before time, in the long long ago, I did the stereotypical American post college Eurotrip, and I enjoyed every minute of it. If I could live in a different city every day, I really would. And although my travelling was curtailed by work – aside from some pretty decent work trips – I really do miss the freedom of it.

But New Zealand is definitely at the top of my list for once this whole disease/war/political strife at home and abroad thing blows over.

Next question!

We see a lot of independent writers chipping away at their “WIP”s in the author community, as well as traditionally-published authors and folks who go for a blend of the two. Given that the preferred business model for most writers I’ve talked to is “who cares as long as each person on Earth buys at least three copies of my book and also Amazon makes a hundred-million-dollar adaptation out of it and everyone shouts about what a betrayal of the source material it is but I still get paid anyway,” what were your dreams going in vs. your dreams now, and do you have any words of wisdom for writers just starting out?

Honestly, I started out trying for trad pub, but had no qualms about going the indie pub route when it became clear that D&D was too niche for the standard market. I get it. All I’m really looking for is for people to read and enjoy my writing – as many or as few as that may be. Would I like to see D&D optioned for a streaming series? Absolutely. I think it really belongs there, but do I have any delusions of that actually happening? Absolutely. Why wouldn’t I?

But at the end of the day, I think I just want to have a cult fandom spring up for Duckett & Dyer: Dicks For Hire. And for that fandom to call themselves ‘Dickheads’.

As for advice to writers just starting out, it’s to really do it for the love of the game, because that’s what’s going to keep you going. I would also advise them to ask for the next question.

The phenomenon of books, plots or themes “not aging well” is something a lot of authors struggle with. Do you consider your stories to be a product of their time, or is the sheer scope and surreal nature of the science a bit of a coat of armour when it comes to creating something hopefully timeless?

 

 

Yes and no. The weird out there stuff will always remain weird out there stuff (hopefully), and I hope those parts of the stories give them an evergreen quality, but there’s certainly going to be pop-culture references and jokes that ‘date’ Duckett & Dyer: Dicks For Hire and its sequels.

But in an effort to counteract that, Duckett & Dyer was already dated when it came out in 2019. It dates itself – because all the events in the book (and subsequent sequels) are stated to all take place between 2013 and 2016. I did that on purpose for two reasons:

  • This way, all the pop-culture references and jokes are couched in a specific, now historical time, effectively making D&D a ‘period piece’ – and thus evergreen by the nature of depicting the past purposefully.
  • A bunch of shit happened in 2016 and has been happening since that’s basically ruined the world, and I didn’t want the hopeful, fun world of Duckett & Dyer to be tarnished by the terribleness of our present reality.

Last question.

I’d like to finish on a question open-ended enough that you can basically say anything else that still happens to be on your mind. What do you think such a question would look like?

 

 

 

What?

 

 

Nair’s books are available on Amazon and come with a Hearty Hatboy’s Hatstand Heckommendation.


AUTHOR INTERVIEW | ADRIAN TCHAIKOVSKY

Hello All!

Now that I have let you have a little breather between me posting my review of Adrian’s ‘Shards of Earth’ I will share with you my first ever interview!

No, I am joking! I had such fun with this little project. It was great fun researching Adrian and finding unasked questions!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR…

Meet Adrian, if you don’t already know his face…

Check him out on Twitter, Goodreads or his Website!

THE INTERVIEW…

Adrian, after a little internet stalking I managed to find out a few things about you. You’re a British author, studied Zoology and psychology., then worked as a legal executive before becoming a writer full time. You enjoy the natural world and have trained in various things and have some varied and interesting fighting skills.

So, tell me something about yourself that we don’t already know. Now don’t hold back on me this can be anything, from a random fact to a funny childhood story. Go…

AT: At university and for some years afterwards I was seriously into drama, acting – though not to the extent of actually being very good at it. However I did a lot of middling roles, and even wrote some plays that the local am dram group put on. I even met my wife while doing Shakespeare’s The Tempest. 

I can relate to that acting was always of some interest to me to, I think it is the drive to be creative, you know? Keeping on with your varied background, I noticed you studied Zoology and Psychology and then practiced as a legal executive.

How did you go from zoology to working in the legal sector? 

AT: When I got out of university the job market (mid 90s UK) was terrible. After a couple of dreadful jobs I ended up at the Legal Aid Board which processed lawyers’ claims for publicly-funded work. They were basically shifting over to a different system and had a huge backlog of paperwork to clear, so they were hiring just about anyone. That introduced me to the idea of the legal profession, but of course I had no legal training. What I did have, because of my writing, was a killer typing speed, so I managed to parlay that into a position as a legal secretary, then trained as a lawyer while working at that. 

Blimey! That is quite the change you made there! I note you also said in previous interviews that you have a love for the natural world…

What is your favourite landscape? I love the mountains but something about the rainforest just trumps it for me. 

AT: Honestly from my writing you’d think it’d be swamps, as they seem to turn up so often. I like anything that has an interesting biodiversity though. Rainforests are the top for that, but wetlands, reefs, even deserts given the amount of insects and reptiles and the like you can get there. For the purposes of the question below, however, let’s go for wetland/swamps. 

Ok, you are stranded in that terrain, which three fictional characters would you want to be stranded with and why? 

AT: I’m tempted to say Atreyu from Never-ending Story because he has a useful horse, but it’s probably too soon…

I’d go firstly for the Biologist from Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation. I admit it’s a risky choice. You wouldn’t know if you could trust her, or just who was actually looking back at you from moment to moment. If you wanted someone who understood wetlands and how to survive in them, though, there’s nobody better. For a given value of ‘survive’ of course.

Next up let’s go for Patera Silk from Gene Wolfe’s Long Sun books. Partly because he’s somewhat omnicompetent – he has a genetic predisposition to pick up and master skills extremely quickly. Mostly because he’s very good company, one of the few SFF protagonists who would be a genuinely pleasant dinner guest or travelling companion.

Finally, to blow my own trumpet and as I’ve written plenty about horrible swamps, let’s have Mallen from my own Guns of the Dawn, as he’s another born survivor with a keenly enquiring mind and I could probably prevail on him, given I wrote him, to do most of the heavy lifting. 

I am still yet to discover the full depth of the world in Shards of Earth, but I did read Doors of Eden and loved it. The detail that went into it was phenomenal. I imagine your research can be quite the rabbit hole as you have to have a wider understanding of it to be able to condense it down for your stories.

When you are researching certain topics, how much of your research would you say goes into your writing and is it hard decided what is crucial to allow the readers an understanding without going it becoming to heavy and problematic to other elements, such as the emotional impacts of certain events and characters. 

AT: It’s one of the great writer’s arts to pare what you have learned on a subject down to the bare minimum. The temptation to show off your erudition is always very strong. Certainly it’s something my editors bring me up on quite often. And every reader’s different, and some may prefer more or less visible scaffolding. It’s a real case-by-case exercise, but you get a mental feel for those situations where you just haven’t joined the dots enough, or where readers might get tripped out of the immersion by questions about why or how something happened. 

Ok, I love Space as many do, it is so incredibly intriguing and terrifying. So, let’s talk aliens! The idea that we are alone in the universe is equally as terrifying as us not being alone. What is your take on this, do you believe in aliens? 

AT: Given the scale of the universe, the idea that we’re the one world with recognizable life is inconceivable. The universe has a common chemistry, the same elements produced from stars, that react together in the same ways. Carbon’s out there and it behaves in certain ways in conjunction with other elements. We know those complex interactions can cross over into becoming self-replicating life (because it did on Earth), and likely that’s just one pathway of many by which life systems could arise. And once even very simple life gets going, it will accelerate and adapt to every niche and environment accessible to it, once you have a self-replicating but fallible system with finite resources. It seems likely that the first alien life we meet – perhaps even within our own solar system – will be the equivalent of prokaryotic microbes, because the majority of the history of life on Earth is single-celled, but that’s still alien life. And, given enough time, there are various pathways that can leave to a higher-energy lifestyle, more complex organisms, larger and more varied life, even sentience. 

That is so incredible! I personally agree, I think it is just too big for there not to be anything, as like you said it would stile alien life, just maybe not as we think of it.

As a lover of sci-fi I have always watched sci-fi TV shows and movies. Especially when I was younger with my dad, we watched some great sci-fi shows. I always loved Farscape and Stargate SG1.

Did you watch any such shows and if so which one was your favourite? 

AT: Farscape remains my favourite TV SF show. Other favourites from back in the day include B5 and Doctor Who, which was my very first fandom. More recently there was the new incarnation of Battlestar Galactica (and yes, I was of an age to watch the original as well!), and masterpieces like The Expanse and Discovery, which are my current space-viewing. 

Yes! I am so glad you love Farscape! Doctor Who is amazing too. I feel like we are getting more and more sci-fi gems on TV of late, and I for one am here for it!

Moving on, or I will fangirl and not finish this interview!

Now, you’re a full time writer tell us a little about your working day as a full time writer. 

AT: Well right now and 18 months ago are a little different. Back before The Thing I tended to go write in coffee shops or the Waterstones café. Since the changes, I’ve adapted well enough to writing at home, up in the attic like the wife in Jane Eyre. I tend to write in a single block in the mornings, and depending on how things are going, possibly more later on. Or I may have edits or something similar to get down to later in the day. 

Ah I bet you miss that! Coffee shops are amazing. You are an incredibly quick writer having published several books now, 124 listing works if you ask Goodreads. And you publish them at such a fantastic rate! What is your average turnaround for a book? 

AT: I plan a great deal and I think that helps my output. I don’t write more per day than most, I think – at least based on the reports of those of my peers who talk about wordcount. I tend to produce a first draft that doesn’t need much editing before I can submit it, though. The pre-planning means things can fall into place without my going back to retcon and alter earlier chapters most of the time. Now I’m writing full time I would hope to get that first draft done in six months, perhaps, for a full length novel. 

Some of Adrians other works…

Keeping in with that vein of questioning, what is you writing process like. Do you plan and allocate time to certain phases such as researching, planning and writing or do you just sit down and let the stay cool out? 

AT: I don’t really allocate time, I just do. I always start with the worldbuilding, and any attendant research that might need. Ideally, by the time I actually start on the first chapter, I’ve got a world with all its axioms, histories, factions, species etc, from which have arisen both the characters and the events of the plot. I’ve got a chapter breakdown showing me where the book’s going to go. I hit the ground running, basically. And it doesn’t always work. I’ve had a couple of projects where the plan has fallen apart in the middle and I’ve had to go back and reorder and re-write large sections. And at that point I suspect I’m floundering where a writer more used to writing on the fly would just sail past. 

What would you say is your biggest change in the way you write now to the way you wrote early in your writing career? 

AT: I think it comes down to a kind of blanket awareness of how it all comes together. Partly a conscious understanding of the mechanics of narrative and language, partly a subconscious feel for what works. Plus, frankly, I’m older and better informed and hopefully have a broader understanding of… just stuff basically. So the decisions I make in the story are hopefully less naïve than they have been. 

So a little about your newest book!

Shards of Earth talk to me about that. You have some pretty unique races and politics involved. I loved the Hivers immediately with the whole hive mind concept, who was your favourite race to create and play with. 

AT: So Shards of Earth and the Final Architecture series, yes. I had a cracking time putting the universe together for those books – both the human factions and groups and the various alien species that interact with them. It’s hard to choose, but I suspect the Essiel are my favourites, just because they’re so maddeningly obscure. They have a huge space empire, which scared the crap out of the humans who first met them. They have dozens of other species as subject races, and yet they’re not remotely aggressive or interested in invading. They’d just love it if humans joined their collective, but, you know, no pressure. Except the problem with the Essiel is that they’re really not very human at all, and so all negotiations with them go through alien interpreters, and then through the weird human cult that’s decided the Essiel are saviour gods, and couch everything in religious terms. And then you have the human diplomats hearing all this ecumenical business and trying to work out what it is exactly that the Essiel really want. And then of course humans learned what the deal was, a little too late, because the Essiel had already met the world-reshaping Architects a while back, only the translations never quite got to that part. 

What were some of your influences for Shards of Earth? 

Honestly the biggest influence was all the sublight travel in Children of Ruin. I was very ready to go a bit further from the hard science just so I could have FTL travel. And when I’d made that decision, I had to work up a nice, novel system for how FTL might work in this universe, and that kind of expanded to take over the book, as you’ll see. The lead character, Idris, is an Intermediary, which means among other things that he’s an unspace navigator. And unspace, where you go when you need to get around the universe faster than light does, is a nasty place, and allegedly something even nastier lives in it, and Idris has been living with that for decades. And so the basic SF concepts aren’t just futuristic conveniences for the characters or the plot, they’re shot all the way through the book. And it all kind of flowered out of that. The Architects themselves, of course, are a take on that classic SF staple, the Big Dumb Object, except in this case they’re also a creature, and they kill planets. And the first human contact anyone has with them is when they come and kill Earth.

Well, Adrian, thank you so much for taking the time to answer all of my questions! It has been such fun! I hope we can do it again sometime!


There you have it folks, my first ever interview! I hope you liked it and enjoyed Adrian’s answers I know he had me giggling at a few. I would love to keep doing this as it is to fun, so if you can think of any fun questions I could have asked et me know!

Thank you for reading, feel free to comment or head on over to my Twitter account and we can have a talk all things bookish!