This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Michael will be awarding an autographed print copy of Ignifer's Rise to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
What would you write in a letter to your teen self?
Go to ruins.
It's so hard to think of the right kind of advice to give. I don't have any big regrets, and most anything else I could say would probably end up changing who I am today. Big choices were hard enough at the time, who am I to second-guess that?
But go to ruins is good advice. I grew up on Indiana Jones and the Goonies. As a kid I adventured with friends in abandoned mills and factories in the North of England. Then I grew up, went to university, and it stopped. Subsequently I was bored for a lot of my university days. I should have gone to ruins then, modern ruins, overgrown by nature, not ruins on the tourist trail. I ended up doing it anyway, 6 years after uni, in Japan. I went to over a hundred ruins, took photos, stayed overnight, 'adventuring.' It was great fun and helped me through some difficulties.
Also, I'd tell myself: it's OK to not like doing stuff. I used to see people having such a great time in pubs and nightclubs, so kept putting myself into those environments, thinking I'd eventually get it. It took many years more to understand, those things may not be for me. I don't have to do them to have a good life. If I'd realized that a lot earlier, maybe I'd have focused on going to ruins more!
Sorry, so long and only the first question.
What book is on your nightstand currently?
I'm reading Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross. He counts every bit of time in seconds, which is a disorienting bit of fun. How long is a million seconds? It's about 11 days. Also he has slow, medium, and fast dollars. He says sixteen as hexteen. I love that stuff, reframing the world through new language. I try to do it myself too.
Hunger Games or Twilight? Why?
Hunger Games! Twilight, having only seen the movies, seems to be quite a passive story. We follow the heroine, who principally spends most of each movie pining for a vampire, trying to choose between a vampire and a werewolf, or being rescued by a vampire or a werewolf. Though it's a modern book and the target audience (I don't know if it's mostly teen girls, but maybe?) may be very 'girl-power', I'm not convinced Twilight shows that. Instead it seems to be saying- which man you choose to love is the most important decision you'll ever make.
That may be very important. But it is a really traditional value, far divorced from the recent spate of Disney and Pixar films that show the importance of women's choices irrespective of men (Frozen, Brave). Of course Katniss too. I dig that.
Girl power, and may the odds be ever in your favor!
What reality show would you love to be on? Why?
Ha, not Survivor. For a long time I thought that show was about outdoorsy cool stuff, like reality LOST, then I actually watched it and was pretty disgusted. It's this horrible, backstabbing, high-school manipulation popularity thing, whcih makes me feel queasy to watch. The slimiest people win. Gross.
Rather, I'd like to try The Amazing Race. There is a little room for slime and manipulation in that, but mostly you're out there running a race, seeing the world. Though I expect it's very stressful, and frustrating at times. Hmm.
Sum up your book for Twitter: 140 characters or less.
In a brutal city splintered by caste, a condemned boy must confront the fate written in his scars, before the jaws of apocalypse descend.
You’re stranded on a desert island—which character from your book do you want with you? Why?
This is such a great question, and it totally depends on what I want:
Escape from the island: The main character Sen. He is ingenious and resourceful, takes unexpected paths to solve a problem, and would make it his mission to get off the island.
To survive on the island: Mare, a street-waif halfhead girl who dragged herself up in a slum, knows everything there is about how to survive. She's city smart and not island smart, but she'd figure it out fast.
To get busy living and have fun: Alam, a loyal, fierce, sarcastic friend, who'd make every day more interesting, or Gellick, a rockman with a silly sense of humor. I'd have a fun time with either.
Create an ice cream flavor. What’s it called?
Babagasloosh - It's eggplant flavor ice cream. It just came into my head.
You’ve just won a million dollars and you’re not allowed to save any of it. What do you spend it on?
Houses, ha, I win! Then I can basically save the money in real estate and sell whenever I want.
But if I can't do that, then probably whatever stuff I need, and that anyone in my family or circle of friends need. When the train comes in, everybody rides.
The fate of the world is written in scars. In a bleak industrial city where marks in skin are a sentence to death, Sen is a child condemned. Cursed with mysterious scars carved by his own mother's hand, he leads a fearful hidden life in the city's last abbey.
Then the King's brutal Adjunc attack, and Sen barely escapes with his life. Lost and alone in the city's dark hinterlands, he begins an exhilarating race to find the truth behind his scars. In stinking black sewers and the lava-buried ruins of an ancient civilization, he uncovers a truth far stranger than he ever imagined, laid out by his long-dead mother: an apocalypse god is rising, and only the legendary hero Saint Ignifer can stop it.
But Saint Ignifer is dead.
Revolution rocks the city. The blood of all castes runs in the streets. With a storm of new faith raging out from the barricades, Sen must embrace the terrible fate his mother wrote in his scars- in the volcano's caldera, at the end of the world- before the black jaws of the apocalypse descend. For the Rot is coming, and the Saint must rise.
Enjoy an excerpt:
Sen bolted into action.
His shoulder took the Spindle in the gut before he even knew he was moving. It drove a grunt from the taller boy and knocked him from his feet, sending them both tumbling across the dry spring grass. More images sparked through Sen's mind, hands stretching through a fence that were his father's hands, but not, a long and shameful walk led by bloodless Molemen, an overwhelming anger rising up.
Sen fought the images back even as he scrabbled in the grass, reaching instinctively for the weapon. He'd never fought before, but while the Spindle wheezed from the blow he managed to grasp the hard metal tool, wet with blood, and pried it away with both hands. Then the Spindle's elbow found the back of his head.
It drove Sen face-first into the grass, head spinning. He felt the weapon snatched back out of his hand and rolled away, expecting another blow to fall, but none came. Looking up he saw the Spindle running away back down the path for the gates.
Sen lurched up, catching a glimpse of Sister Henderson closing in. There was no time. He started after the Spindle at a ragged sprint, down through the trail of white chalk dust the boy had left. His vision was blurry from the blow to the head, the world was turning, and his mind reeled from the strange images and anger, but he could still just pick the taller boy out. He was nearly at the gate, and all Sen wanted to do was hurt him. He pumped his elbows hard, thumped his feet down on the chalk, and reached the gates just as the Spindle was about to straddle the top.
He leapt, snagged the boy's ankle with one hand, and wrenched him off the metal. The boy windmilled down with a thud into the chalk, and Sen threw himself on top, batting away the Spindle's efforts to lash out, throwing his own wild fists at the boy's long thin face.
About the Author: Michael John Grist is a 34-year old British writer and ruins photographer who lives in Tokyo, Japan. He writes dark and surreal science fiction and fantasy, inspired by authors such as David Gemmell and Orson Scott Card.
In his free time he explores and photographs abandoned places around the world, such as ruined theme parks, military bases, underground bunkers, and ghost towns. These explores have drawn millions of visitors to his website: MichaelJohnGrist.com, and often provide inspiration for his fiction.
You can buy Ignifer's Rise at Amazon or Amazon UK. Sign up for his releases newsletter and friend him on Facebook
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