Interview with S.M. Warlow, Author of Invidious

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What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Invidious (Tales of the Phoenix Titan Volume 2)?

So, those who read the first entry into this series (Heritage) will know that my writing contains political undertones. Naturally, I try not to insert my own politics into my work, as I feel this frequently happens in much of today’s media. Instead, I try to present both sides of the coin in a way that (I hope) makes the reader think and question the characters’ motives.

Where Heritage introduced this idea of a very divided galaxy, Invidious seeks to build upon that. First off, I wanted to continue the story of Nathan Carter and his crew, but at the same time, I tried to shift gears. I didn’t want to tell the same story twice, and as it stands today, I’ve got plans for many more books in this universe. Where Heritage leaned into the sci-fi adventure style, I wanted Invidious to feel more contained with some thriller elements thrown into the mix. There are themes of conspiracy and political scheming running throughout, but the idea of media being used as a weapon was a big driver creatively. In essence, it’s all about unearthing hidden forces influencing events from afar but reframed in a sci-fi setting.

If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Invidious (Tales of the Phoenix Titan Volume 2), what would they be?

I don’t know if there is a song for a particular character, but for the series as a whole, there is a track called ‘Boldly into the Unknown’ by Epic Score. Something about it evokes a feeling of grand-scale space battles and action, all while sounding a little bit sinister.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

I’m typically drawn to Science Fiction, Fantasy and Thrillers. Regardless of genre, I love an imaginative concept, world or lore that keeps me engaged. Character arcs are also really important to me. I love a strong character who learns, evolves and changes as the story progresses.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

Currently, I’m reading Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay by William Gibson and Pat Cadigan. It’s an insightful look into a movie that could’ve been that ultimately didn’t see the light of day.

As for my TBR, Descendent Machine by Gareth L Powell is up next. As far as I know, it’s a sequel to his previous novel, Stars and Bones. Then there is Chasing Shadows by a fellow self-published author from my local area, Steven Smith. I’ve also got Liu Cixin’s, The Dark Forest which I’ve been putting off way too long. Then finally, I’ve earmarked a date in July for the release of Neal Asher’s new one, War Bodies, which is his next entry into the Polity Universe.

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

Any of the Alastair Roth POV scenes were quite enjoyable. I’ve always found writing the villain’s chapters/scenes is always a different experience from the heroes. You almost have to tap into something different creatively. When writing Roth, every word seemed to freeflow. Don’t get me wrong; he’s an evil bad guy with deep flaws and a bit of a god-complex, but there’s something so electrifying about writing a smart and ruthless character like that.

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

Coffee helps, but saying that, I don’t do the tortured writer in a Starbucks thing very often. I prefer to write in the evenings with noise-cancelling headphones, playing something that captures the ambience of the scene I’m working on. During the summer months, writing outside is quite helpful.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

1. Feedback is a gift. It’s the breakfast of champions.

2. The only thing worse than a bad movie/book/song is a bad movie/book/song with delusions of grandeur. Stay humble. Stay grounded, and keep learning.

3. Measure once. Cut Twice.

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

When it comes to Invidious, I’d hope people remember the edge of your seat feeling as things progress.


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