Interview – Danie Ware on her debut novel Ecko Rising

Danie Ware is the publicist and event organiser for cult entertainment retailer Forbidden Planet. She has been immersed in the science-fiction and fantasy community for the past decade. An early adopter of blogging, social media and a familiar face at conventions, she appears on panels as an expert on genre marketing and retailing.

Danie’s debut novel, Ecko: Rising follows a savage, gleefully cynical anti-hero immersed in his own fantasy world. Ecko joins a misfit cast of characters and strives to conquer his deepest fears and save the world.

GSFN: Tell us how Ecko Rising came about.

Danie: From a starry-eyed youth of writing ‘what if’ fiction – fun fic rather than fan fic!

In 2008, I went to EasterCon for the first time in 15 years and found myself back in the industry. It gave me the confidence to start writing again, to pick up those old threads and weave them properly – I put the first few chapters on Googlepages and the response from my Twitter friends was huge. It was also picked up by an author who promised to show them to his publisher – and it all snowballed from there.

GSFN: The main character, Ecko is quite the anti-hero – an antagonistic protagonist if you will. Did his character make it more challenging to write the book?

Danie: I think he made it easier – his dark, biting humour and sharp insight give the story an energy that carries it forwards. Sometimes, I’d write when I was angry, and Ecko would give me an outlet for that anger; sometimes, his sardonic views of classic fantasy situations and archetypes just wrote themselves. He could be quite unpredictable, though, and there were times he’d ignore the chapter plan completely and just do his own thing!

GSFN: You’ve taken two genres, sci-fi and fantasy and have created a subtle cohesive story. What do think of the more ‘in your face’ mash ups such as historical characters fighting vampires and zombies? Julian May is a very popular author who achieved an exciting blend of sci-fi and fantasy, do you make any contrasts to your own work or does it not compare?

Danie: Julian May’s ‘Exiles’ saga is one of my absolute favourite reads – she did past and future, SF and fantasy, anthropology and politics, all woven expertly in the same story. It’s astounding writing; I’ve never come across anything else like it. Her story is subtle, intricate, flawlessly crafted – a complete antithesis to the current trend for ‘Everything Vs Zombies’ mash-ups.

Being honest here, I’ve not actually read one of the latter – though I do like the fact that genre boundaries are being confronted, and are coming down, now more than ever. Julian May is one of my inspirations. As for Jane Austen thumping the undead with a spade – well, good on you girl, let’s hope you pave the way for some more freethinking!

GSFN: How did it feel to see Ecko Rising in book form for the time?

Overwhelming – the first time my editor showed me the cover art, it had me in tears (no kidding)! With each stage of the book’s production – acceptance, editorial, art, proof copy, reviews, final product – there’s been a new rush of nervousness and wonder. Seeing something that’s been in my head slowly conjured to life has been a magical thing.

On occasion, I’ve been lucky enough to be present when an author has seen their finished book for the first time – and it’s made me realise that the wonder never palls. And that’s perhaps the best thing of all.

GSFN: You have a dream fangirls’/boys’ job, working for one of the well-known comic book stores in the UK. How has this day job environment influenced your writing?

Danie: If anything, it’s raised the bar! When you’re surrounded by the industry – not only its creators, but its critics and fans and retailers and shoppers and marketeers, you have an insight into the whole process that’s pretty scary. Add to that the sheer heavyweight of talent that regularly comes through FP, and it’s a heck of thing to try and live up to!

It’s also made it surreal – things like seeing my own name on company schedules and setting up my own signings have been very bizarre!

GSFN: Your job involves organising signing events with authors. Have you asked for advice from these guest authors when it came to writing professionally? If so, what was the most profound or useful piece of advice given to you?

Danie: In a word: no. There’s nothing more annoying than the badgering wannabe! Some people knew I was writing and would enquire – but that’s all. In fairness through, I’ve friends through my job who’re authors, and they have been incredibly supportive in helping me make sense of the wheels of the professional process.

GSFN: Ecko Rising is a superb debut novel, and it was a pleasure to read. What can we next expect from you Danie?

Thank you very much! I’ve just handed in the first draft of Ecko II, and I have another novel, urban fantasy-ish, with my agent. After that, we will have to see!

Danie Ware will be reading from and signing, Ecko Rising (Titan Books) at the Forbidden Planet London Megastore on Thursday 20th September from 6 – 7pm.

Ecko Rising by Danie Ware, available from 21st September, Titan Books, £7.99. You can pre-order your copy from Forbidden Planet.

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