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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.

Review – Ecko Rising

Danie Ware’s debut novel Ecko Rising is the tale of the cybernetically enhanced assassin Ecko, who joins a resistance group fighting against a world where people are medicated into servitude. While on reconnaissance to track down the pharmacist responsible for the drug, Dr Grey, Ecko barely survives the mission and finds himself in a virtual world. Whether created by his own unstable mind, the resistance group’s psychiatrist Eliza, or his adversary Dr Grey, Ecko has to play the game, save the world and at the same time, save himself.

Danie writes a rich world filled with large archetypal characters such a the healer, the prophet, the warrior, the thief and of course the evil alchemist. All the while making each one worth caring about – apart from the bad guy, you really want the anti-hero Ecko to kick his ass. Both worlds are blissfully unaware of the threat is it under, suffering the same sort of apathy as Ecko’s London; where chemists/alchemists plot to rule the world, with only a small group of people fighting against the evil. There’s quite a lot of violence and a smattering of sex, and yet it never feel gratuitous. It always fits the plot rather than having it for the sake of it. Danie writes in such a way as you can clearly visualise the worlds she is describing. You can feel the the rake of a monster’s claw; the knife or sword blade; the heat of sex and fire; and the pain of loss, either life or limb. There are also quite a few unexpected twists; scenes that are brilliantly set up, only to meet swift and cruel ends.

Ecko himself, to say he’s the most interesting character in the book does him little justice. He’s cynical, a cruel wit, rebellious, selfish and uncaring. The first half of Ecko Rising I found myself not liking him, yet funny; a pain and yet siding with him. As the book, and the program he’s stuck in plays itself out, Ecko begins to see that he can care for those around him, even the fantasy characters of Varchinde. I found him more and more likeable, even as he keeps up bad behaviour to those around him. An anti-hero, Ecko slowly becomes a champion.

What I founds truly brilliant was that the reader plays the role of Ecko, just as the author plays the role of the psychiatrist Eliza. Danie fucks with the reader’s head, never knowing if the world is based in Ecko’s mind or an actual alternate world. The book never plays from Ecko’s point of view alone. We’re introduced to people who may never meet Ecko, yet play large roles within the story. It weaves a number of threads together, only to pick them apart again as Ecko crosses paths with these people. So has Ecko been plugged into virtual world, or has he somehow really ended up a magical fantasy world? Right up to the end, it’s an answer that shifts from one to the other and back again.

An ambitious tale and brilliantly written, Ecko Rising ends by setting up the sequel; one that I am most definitely looking forward to.

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 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.

Danie Ware signing Ecko Rising

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

Click the cover to order your signed copy from Forbidden Planet

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. Danie says, “Ecko: Rising is sardonic fantasy, a sharp new slant on the genre, scattered with a healthy dusting of sex, violence and sarcasm. I’ve read fantasy, on and off, since I was a teen – and you can’t put a new twist on something unless you fell in love with it to start with! I wanted to push back its boundaries, make it do something different, something smarter and darker – but also something that we’d understand and recognise.”

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.

You can find a full list of Forbidden Planet’s forthcoming events on their website http://forbiddenplanet.com/events/

You can also subscribe to their RSS feed http://feeds.forbiddenplanet.com/fplatestevents

September events at Forbidden Planet

A huge swathe of amazing events that Forbidden Planet this September. Not only signings but launch dates, major events and celebrations of geek culture.

Thursday 6th September 6 – 7pm – Adam Christopher will be signing the Forbidden Planet exclusive edition hardcover of Seven Wonders, the follow-up to his astounding Empire State.

Friday 7th September 6 – 7pm – Scott K Andrews will be launching, for the first time in collected edition, his distopian vision School’s Out Forever.

Thursday 13th September 6 – 7pm renowned fantasy artist Brian Froud will be signing his absolutely exquisite Trolls, a fascinating revelation in to the world of rainbow waterfalls and shadowy thickets.

Thursday 20th September 6 – 7pm we will have star of stage and television John Barrowman, and Professor of English Carole Barrowman, upstairs, signing Torchwood: Exodus: Code.

And simultaneously, Danie Ware will be downstairs launching her debut title, the gleefully sardonic and genre-bending Ecko Rising.

Saturday 22nd September 1 – 2pm, we’ll have live dinosaur sketching (that’s live sketching, not live dinosaurs) and a signing with Steve White for his astounding book of Dinosaur Art.

Tuesday 25th September 6 – 7pm, we welcome back the king of British SF, Peter F Hamilton, signing his latest title Great North Road.

Wednesday 26th September, 6 – 7pm, we will have napkin-scribbling visionary Brent Weeks signing his amazing epic fantasy The Blinding Knife (probably not written on a napkin, in fact).

And we round off the month with a pre-FantasyCon signing bonanza from Titan Books, featuring Guy Adams, Samit Batsu, Joanne Reay, Kim Newman and Danie Ware

It’s going to be a busy month!

Click on the book covers below torder your signed copies of these books from Forbidden Planet.

You can find a full list of Forbidden Planet’s forthcoming events on their website http://forbiddenplanet.com/events/

You can also subscribe to their RSS feed http://feeds.forbiddenplanet.com/fplatestevents