Hi and welcome to my stop on T.Q. Chant’s Hard Setdown blog tour 🙂
Many thanks to Kelly @ Love Books Group Tours for arranging the following interview with T.Q. Chant…..
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
Nothing massively exciting to say about myself – I emerged from the depths of deepest darkest Lincolnshire, came up to Scotland to study and just sort of… stayed. Civil servant by day, writer and massive geek at any other time.
The four books (soon to be a fifth) I have in print follow Sam Cane – con-artist trying to go straight and escape some serious bad guys in her past. To do this, she takes a job working security on a far-flung colonial outpost and things kind of go downhill from there, drawing her into an interstellar conspiracy. I think they’re fast, furious and quite gritty. I also like to slip in some thinking about issues that concern me, but entertainment is the main goal.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
All sorts – other fiction, history, reading about scientific advances and new astronomical discoveries. Running and playing in roleplaying games are really good for generating ideas – I often like to run plot ideas as games to see how my players react.
The Sam Cane stories were, I’m vaguely shamefaced to admit, partly inspired by the film Starship Troopers. It’s come a long way since then and I hope the overarching plot is a lot more interesting and a lot less dystopian. I wanted to write a society that’s moved on from some of the less appealing aspects of our own, for one thing, and wanted to created a more interesting main character.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
I think there’s always a little bit of people we know in the characters we create. Though she’d kill me for saying this, there’s often a little bit of my partner in some of my characters, and I know a rich tapestry of people through friendships and work.
How do you pick your characters’ names?
All sorts of places really. Names of books and of characters are two of the things I really struggle with, particularly for SF. Names I see through correspondence sometimes crop up, or just going about in my daily life. Sam Cane is one I spotted on social media and went ‘That’s the name of a big damn hero’.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
I’m not a planner – I start with an idea, some characters and often an ending, and put fingers to keyboard to see what happens. My writers’ group, the Edinburgh Schmismatics, have been invaluable in taking off some of the resultant rough edges…
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
Oooh, tough one – there are so many. Patrick O’ Brian definitely has to be in there, and John le Carre. Jane Austen comes in from outfield. Dan Abnett, both for the stuff he writes for Games Workshop and wider work. I think Ian Macdonald may be a new favourite.
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
O’ Brian, without a doubt. A famously shy, mercurial and thorny individual, I think he’d be a great conversationalist if you caught him in a good mood. I’d want to know all about his process and pick his brains about both his own period and his life.
Were you a big reader as a child?
Very much so – I grew up on the classics (Asimov, Philip K Dick, Harlan Ellison, etc) from my father’s collection. Any spare moment was spent with a book in my hand.
When did you start to write?
In my very early teens, I think. Thankfully, due to the ephemeral nature of digital storage, none of that survives…
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
Is there a book you wish you had written?
Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe – I know it’s a book from a different time and such, with different expectations and more of a morality story emphasis. But that ending was just… massively disappointing. I’d definitely have more of a fight, rather than ‘villain dies because he’s feeling guilty’.
Book I wish I’d written? Ian M Banks’ Use of Weapons. The scope and scale of it, the structure, the twist at the end… It’s all pretty much perfect.
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
‘My Name is not Jim’ – used to work in a call centre (worst job I’ve ever had) and no caller ever caught my name properly.
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
Slippery Jim di Griz, from Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat novels. I think he’d be a blast, and I doubt we’d be drinking coffee. Probably to my local, lovely little pub, and then work round the good boozers of Leith.
What are you working on right now?
I tend to have a number of projects on the go at any one time. Right now I’m finishing the second Cane’s Laws, which is the fifth novel to feature Sam Cane, then I’ll be diving back into a naval adventure set around the turn of the 20th century. I also have a Patreon and keep up a steady stream of shorts, serial stories and vignettes mostly set in the same universe as Sam.
As TJ Chant, I got a short story into a compilation entitled ‘Heroes of Normandy – the Untold Stories’. It’s a companion book for a game, and I was pleased as punch that the company made an expansion for the game based on each of the stories in the collection.
As TQ Chant, the last release was The Ascension Run, book one in the Cane’s Laws series. It continues the story started in the Sam Cane series as she delves deeper into the conspiracy and finds new, unlooked for allies in the fight.
Do you have a new release due?
Fingers crossed I’ll be getting the next Cane’s Laws out in the next couple of weeks.
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
I generally have a large G&T once I’ve hit the go button on a self-publication. Getting everything lined up is generally a bit of a faff and that’s all I have energy for.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
Twitter’s the best bet (https://twitter.com/ReaverRedemptor) – the handle is a reference to my wargaming fixation). I also have a Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/tqchant) and I’m working on getting a blog up and running.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions! 🙂
Sam Cane – ex-con artist (sort of), ex-soldier (definitely), and woman on the run.
She’s looking to escape a life of petty crime on Earth that’s got her in too deep with the wrong people. Taking a job with one of the corporations contracted to open up and exploit new worlds in the growing Commonwealth, she’s assigned to a young colony right on the edge of human space. It looks like the perfect escape, until she arrives on IGC-187X and things start to go downhill. Fast.
Out on the fringe, she’ll find out that what you’re running from isn’t always the thing that will kill you.
Happy reading 🙂
Tim Chant grew up (mostly), went to school in East Anglia and university in Scotland. He took his History degree and did the only thing he could with it – joined the civil service. When not shackled to his desk he writes science fiction, alternative historical fiction, historical fiction and any other fiction that takes his fancy. When not doing that, he’s an inveterate roleplayer and wargamer (and getting back into historical fencing). He lives in Edinburgh with his partner and their two rabbits.