Bestselling author Jack Croxall talks space, Anchor Leg, and LGBT fiction
For those of you that don’t know, I am a huge fan of fellow UK author, Jack Croxall. He’s a fab writer. I often chat with him on twitter, but today, lucky people, I managed to pester him with my questions about his new science fiction thriller Anchor Leg.
And no I am certainly NOT jealous that he has a million more twitter followers than me. I was one of the lucky people to get an early read. I was honoured to be asked, and of course I loved the book. It’s such a different direction than his other works; it’s a brave one, but he pulls it off brilliantly.
‘I toss my knife out into space. It doesn’t matter, I’ll kill him with my bare hands.’
Humanity has spilled out into the solar system, into a succession of giant space stations known as the Relay. Seren Temples is a security apprentice running the Relay’s Anchor Leg. Her ship forced off course, sensors detect an automated distress signal. The ship responsible for the signal is a zero-G graveyard. Inside its vast hold, nothing but a single vial of frozen blood.
Anchor Leg is a sci-fi thriller from Jack Croxall, author of Wye.
I know you are wanting to hear more about Anchor Leg so here are my questions for Jack.
It’s been a while since we last heard from you. What have you been up to?
Writing, writing and more writing! I’ve been busy trying to get a handful of projects off the ground, I cameoed in a spooky short film you can watch here, and, of course, I wrote Anchor Leg.
Tell us a little about Anchor Leg.
Anchor Leg is a sci-fi thriller. It follows Seren Temples as her vessel finds a wrecked ship floating over a tiny moon in Saturn’s orbit. Seren is part of her vessel’s security team so she’s sent aboard to investigate. Needless to say, what she finds is all kinds of sinister.
Your previous books (Wye and Tethers) were written for a YA audience. What made you try something aimed at older readers and what surprised you the most about it?
I’ve always loved sci-fi books/films and so I think I just wanted to have a stab at the genre. I suppose I could have gone for a more YA vibe but the story that came to me was very different to what you would typically find in a YA novel. Some of the characters that Seren interacts with, it would have felt wrong to rein them in. Equally, there were themes I wanted to explore that aren’t usually found in YA books. I have thoroughly enjoyed working in the sci-fi genre though and the thing that’s surprised me most about it is that I’m keen to do it again. Usually after I’ve told a story in one genre I want to move onto something else immediately!
Seren Temples is a rookie aboard the ship. What is your main character like and why do you think readers will warm to her?
Seren Temples is a girl running away from Earth. Her instinct is to get as far away from what she hates as possible and I think we can all relate to that. However, what is most interesting about Seren (for me at least) is that she’s chosen a life with clear parallels to where she’s come from. A part of her wants to face what’s happened and through the course of the story events conspire to give her the chance to do just that.
I noticed the love arc in the story involving Seren and another female crew member. It’s a brave move having a lesbian main character. Was this something you instinctively knew about Seren from the beginning or did it come about later?
I definitely want to take conscious steps to make my stories more representative but, yes, Seren was always going to be gay. One of the first scenes I had in mind was Seren exploring part of her ship with Abril and I could sense there was romantic tension. I also knew this wasn’t a story about Seren discovering her sexuality; Seren already knew she was gay. This is a sci-fi story where the main character just happens to be gay. I really enjoyed writing Seren and I hope I did justice to that aspect of her characterisation.
What research did you undertake to make Anchor Leg as realistic and as in depth as possible?
In a word, lots! Everything had to be fact checked, from background radiation levels to how performing everyday tasks in zero-G would work. Luckily, I know another sci-fi writer (Steve Caddy, author of the excellent In Exchange) who knows a great deal more about our solar system and the mechanics of space than I do. His assistance was invaluable. During one early edit he pointed out that I’d made an entire planet the wrong shape – I didn’t even know planets could be different shapes!
Tell us a little about your writing process during Anchor Leg. Did you make a plan beforehand or did you get stuck right in?
I jumped in and wrote a few chapters but I soon realised I needed a plan. I was building a whole new world of habitations around our solar system (the Relay) and I needed a map of that to stay on track. I also needed a map of Seren’s ship and I had to do a lot of doodling to get some of the futuristic tech I invented clear in my mind. This has definitely been the most work I have ever put into one of my stories!
What do you think readers should (and will) take from the book?
The book explores the growing tension between Earth’s population and the population living in the giant habitable space stations that make up the Relay. Even though everyone is human (no aliens in Anchor Leg) the two factions are becoming increasingly suspicious of and aggressive towards one another. 2016 was a strange year and it almost feels as though some societies are more inward-looking than ever. The future I depict in Anchor Leg is not a pleasant one. If humankind doesn’t start sharing resources, tech and knowledge, if we keep looking out for number one and treating other people as the enemy, I honestly feel a future like the one in Anchor Leg is on its way. If readers take one thing from the book I hope it’s that we need to be more outward-looking, more inclusive on a global scale. We need to be less prejudiced and more mindful of what we could become if we’re not careful.
If you were aboard the ship, what area would you fit in to? Who would you befriend and how do you think you would react when the ship comes across the seemingly abandoned Scylla?
That is a great question! I think I would probably work in Horticulture, growing lots of nice food for everyone (I love gardening). I would definitely try and befriend Bakalar, head of Security, because I’d need someone to look out for me. However, when news of the Scylla came through I doubt I’d be volunteering for the rescues mission. I’d probably be a wimp and stick with my tomato plants!
Any Last Words?
Thank you for having me on your site, Dan!
For those of you interested in finding out more about Jack and his work you can head on over to his website, or tweet him via @JackCroxall. Anchor Leg is an Amazon exclusive release and is available for kindle worldwide.