Even reading the press release for ‘KILLER T’, I could feel the suspense... Do you really think something like this could happen?
It’s hard to predict the future, but I think some of this stuff will.
The main reason technologies like nuclear weapons haven’t spread is that you need a huge industrial complex to produce the fuel. Gene editing and synthetic viruses could be just as destructive, but the technology needed to create them fits in a garage.
Why did you choose wasps?
People have already edited genes to change the colours of animals and even make fish glow in the dark. So the idea of something as common as a wasp, but genetically engineered to be purple and have a more powerful venom seemed like a good example of how a couple of relatively simple gene edits could have a huge impact on the world.
14 million books sold in 14 years! That is an incredible achievement. Did you ever expect your titles to be this popular?
I’m quite a pessimistic person, so I never dreamed they would be this successful. When I first wrote The Recruit, I remember telling a work colleague, ‘It’s not going to make me a fortune, but it’ll be an interesting experience to publish a book and maybe I’ll make enough money to go on a cool holiday.’
‘KILLER T’ is based in Las Vegas, is there any particular connection to this location?
I first visited Las Vegas in 1998. I really loved it and have been going back once or even twice per year ever since. I’d previously set a big chunk of CHERUB: The General in the city, but this was my first chance to set an entire book there.
This is your first stand-alone novel, what made you decide to create this as a single book?
When you’ve written more than thirty books, it’s easy to fall into a rut. But I love books like Malorie Blackman’s Nought’s and Crosses and Melvyn Burgess’ Junk. Both tell an epic story set over several years and I thought doing my version of that would be an great challenge.
The biggest difference between talking to new writers and experienced published writers is that the unpublished ones attach far too much importance to a single project.
I’d urge everyone who wants to be a writer write lots of different things, not just copy your favourite author or write in your favourite genre. It’s only by experimenting, failing and being prepared to abandon a prized project and start again that you’ll really start to understand what you’re good at.
As you have travelled across the world, what would you say your most favourite place is and why?
I’d have to say Las Vegas! After so many trips, it just feels comfortable and there’s always something weird going on…
When you are writing your novels, what environment do you find best to work in?
I can do most things like e-mails, planning stories or admin in the back of an Uber, while I’m eating my breakfast or whatever. But when I’m writing a book, I need total focus for the characters and story. I can only manage that while I’m sat in my office, with my 32inch monitor, that enables me to see two full pages at once. I never have music on, and I leave my phone in another room so I don’t get distracted.