Today I have the pleasure of introducing science fiction writer R.E. Weber. His first book, “The Star Agency” is an excellent fun science fiction read written as experienced through the eyes of a thirteen year old boy called, Theo. He is an instantly relatable and likeable character with a complicated domestic situation and typical teenage issues and interests. He is a bit of a computer nerd/ geek but with one good friend called Jules.
Everything changes with the arrival of a mysterious letter that begins an adventure that eventually even leads into space.
Written with great young characters, which are a joy to follow, this is a hugely entertaining and imaginative story. It reminded me of many great young-adult books I read in my youth, The Star Agency incited the same sense of excitement and adventure. I look forward to more of it in the next book. Very recommendable.
So many of us dream of another life – a life of excitement and danger.
What if, in the darkest depths of despair, you suddenly had a chance to live that life?
Would you have the courage to chase that dream, even if you had to leave your friends, family and everything you knew behind?
Would you take that chance?
Theopolis James Logan is about to get that chance.
The Universe is about to come knocking on his door.”
The Star Agency is book 1 of The Star Agency Chronicles, an Interstellar secret agent adventure aimed at readers aged 10 and above.
I’m a forty-nine year old Yorkshireman, but I moved away from that marvellous county some thirty years ago when I realised that it provided little if any work opportunities – it really was grim up north back then. After living in a variety of places in Kent and Hertfordshire, I finally settled in a small town in Bedfordshire with my wife and cat. I work as an IT Consultant, which pays the mortgage, and I’ve been married for twelve years to a wonderful woman, who is my rock and best friend.
I’ve been writing novels for about eight years now, but I don’t have a magic formula for conjuring up the written word. Instead, I just start with a loose plan and begin typing. Sometimes, I end up in a dead end and have to scrap a particular ongoing plotline. However, if I’m lucky, I end up with a magic moment, which can then become the highlight of the book. For me, the best moments come along the way when I’m least expecting them. If I tried to plan the whole story in great detail before starting the book proper, I’d still be at the planning stages now. It’s simply not how my mind works. I know everybody is different and all approaches are just as valid, but you have to do what works for you. Like most writers, I would love to write full time, but that hasn’t come to pass as yet. One day maybe.
Tell us about your writing history. When was the first time you decided to write and when was the first time you did?
I’ve always had the desire to write a full length novel from a very young age, but although I’ve had the germs of ideas, they never developed into anything more than embarrassing, short lived scribbles – until about 8 years ago that is. Truth be told, I simply wasn’t good enough until recently. The trigger for starting my first book came after finishing the final novel in a little-known fantasy series concerning the exploits of a certain boy wizard. Something about that book struck home and planted a seed in me, leading me to believe that I might actually be able to finish a novel. That seed eventually grew and blossomed into The Star Agency Chronicles series. It took me five years on and off to finish the first book, The Star Agency. I’m pleased to say that the second one, The Voyages Of The Seven, came a lot quicker.
Did anyone influence you / encourage you to become a writer?
I can’t say that anybody in my personal life specifically prompted or encouraged me to become a writer. Instead, I put it down to the influence of a handful of authors and filmmakers – Arthur C. Clark, Greg Bear, Ben Bova, Stephen Baxter, J.K. Rowling, Stephen Spielberg, George Lucas and James Cameron, to name but a few. Basically, I respond to great storytelling, a sense of hope, passion, humour and a healthy dose of sentimentality. A decent space battle doesn’t go amiss either.
When did you decide to write in your chosen genre(s)?
When I read the seminal science fiction novel A Fall Of Moondust by Arthur C. Clarke at the age of ten or eleven, I was simply amazed at how your mind could be sent soaring across the Universe with just a few well planted ideas and descriptions. From then onwards, the path was set. Of course, that doesn’t mean to say that I would never write in another genre, so never say never. However, I have a feeling that science fiction will always be at the top of the tree for me. The young adult slant to my work simply comes from a desire to write stories suitable for all ages. The best stories to me are those that anybody can enjoy, be they in written form or on the silver screen. They work on different levels depending on your age and expectations, but overall, they appeal across the board.
Tell us about the concept behind your books. How did you get the idea?
I have always said that I want write the kind of books I would have enjoyed reading when growing up. That took me back to my mind-set from my youth when I dreamed of being whisked away to far-flung planets, to fight unstoppable enemies, against impossible odds. You only need to look at movies and television shows like Star Trek, Babylon 5 (the greatest TV series ever in my opinion), Close Encounters of the Third Kind and The Last Starfighter to see influences in my work. There is just something about the idea of ordinary people being torn away from their mundane lives and thrust headlong into mind-boggling, otherworldly situations that appeals to me. Theopolis James Logan is that ordinary person, who subsequently becomes extraordinary.
What is your life like outside of writing?
Normal (I think). I’m not a sports fanatic, but I have recently taken up running to combat my otherwise sedentary life. A few months ago, I finished my first half-marathon, which was something I wanted to do before hitting the grand old age of fifty – I got a respectable time for a late starter I think. When I’m not out running, digging up the garden or fixing computers for my friends and relatives, I love relaxing in front of a great movie or TV show/science documentary, preferably with a glass of wine in my hand. Of course, it goes without saying that I love a good book, and although science fiction is at the top of the list of genres, I’m not at all averse to a good thriller, fantasy adventure, human drama, or a comedy. As long as it is well written and well thought through, I’m happy. I also love travelling when I have the time. Listening to music is also a huge passion for me.
What makes you laugh?
The classic British TV sketch shows of the 1990’s such as The Fast Show, Naked Video, Big Train, The League of Gentleman and The Mary Whitehouse Experience. For the classics of old, there’s Monty Python’s Flying Circus and The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perin. I’m also partial to Friends, which is one of the few comedies which I can watch again and again and still find funny. My wife often makes me laugh as do a number of close friends and work colleagues, albeit inadvertently sometimes. I also find cats and their bizarre but loveable antics very funny – a feeling also shared by many others, based on the number of cat videos on the internet. Laughing is sometimes the only thing that keeps you sane.
Great choices, I second all of those.
Who would you like to invite for dinner?
Tricky one that because there are many. Stephen Hawking would be fantastic because his determination is so inspirational, and he has a fantastic sense of humour – if you have seen The Theory of Everything, you will know what I mean. Tom Baker would keep me entertained because he is barking and still the best Dr Who ever. Buzz Aldrin would be fantastic because he really did go where no man had gone before.
NB: Good choice. I’ve sat next to Tom Barker on a plane once and think he’d be a great guest at a dinner party.
What song would you pick to go with your book?
Right from the word go, the song playing in my head alongside The Star Agency was Starlight by Muse – I even visualised it being played across the closing credits of the imaginary movie version. If you have read the book, you only need to have a quick glance at the lyrics of the song to see why. Plus, it’s a bloody awesome song, so that’s a good enough reason in my book (pardon the pun).
What are you working on now?
Book 3 in the Star Agency Chronicles. It doesn’t have a formal title as yet and it’s just a collection of scribbles and ideas right now. I haven’t started writing in earnest. I need a few months in between books to relax and think through the ideas to understand if they gel and make sense, and also understand what has worked and what people have appreciated about the earlier books in the series. Put simply, my brain needs to assimilate it all before I start on the next one.
Is there anything you would like us to know about yourself and your books?
A friend who read one of my books once asked me if I enjoyed music, the reason being that he had a belief that people with a propensity to write were often music lovers too. I don’t know whether that is true of writers as a whole, but it certainly is with me. As long as I can remember, music has been incredibly important to me. I can’t sing, play an instrument, or write music, but I can sure as hell appreciate those who can. So whenever possible, I get myself to concerts to listen to the live stuff – I’m off to see U2 in the near future. When you hear a great song on the radio for the first time, the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, tears form in your eyes, and for just a few minutes, your soul is lifted to another place and time. That may sound poetic and fanciful, but it’s how it makes me feel. Without music in my life, I would be a very sad man. There are a small number of bands who I am quite obsessive about, the top of that list being the sublime Depeche Mode. Unsurprisingly, my favourite genre is 80’s electronica, but I’m partial to other stuff as well. I’m certainly not stuck in the past. Music is something I could talk about forever, so I’ll stop now.
Following on (after a fashion) from the above discussion, when I am writing, tunes or pieces of music are often playing in my head as a sound track to the events taking place, especially if I’m describing an action scene. I don’t really know why that is, but perhaps it helps give the scene a sense of rhythm. Maybe it’s also my cinematic sensibilities coming into play – basically, I imagine the events as scenes from a movie. There’s a particular scene from book two when I can hear the music from the action movie Speed playing quite distinctly. I love imagining my books as movies, even though that is never likely to happen. A man can always dream though, can’t he?
Born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, in the 1960’s, R.E.Weber discovered his passion for science fiction at a young age after reading A Fall Of Moondust by Arthur C. Clark. Thirty years later, the saga that was to become The Star Agency Chronicles began to take shape, and in January 2013, the first novel in the series, The Star Agency, was published.
After a great response to the first novel, he began working on The Voyages Of The Seven, which was released in August 2015. Book 3 is currently in the advanced planning stages.
When not reading or writing, he is often to be found indulging in his other passions, which include running, astronomy and cinema going. He now lives in Bedfordshire, UK with his wife & cat. He is still obsessed with science fiction.