Author: John Trevillian
ISBN: Book #1: THE A-MEN, ISBN-13: 978-1848763432; Book #2: THE A-MEN RETURN, ISBN-13: 978-1848766198; Book #3: FOREVER A-MEN, ISBN-13: 978-1780880907
Page count: Book #1: 403, Book #2: 425, Book #3: 354
Genre: Science fiction (Dystopian)
Price: All RRP $29.99, but available cheaper at various online websites.
John Trevillian is an award-winning British author of neopunk science fiction. Fascinated by the crossover points of technology, religion and myth, Trevillian’s work is informed as much by the roles of magazine editor, technology writer and IT journalist as his training in the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids and Native American Shamanism (Lakota Sioux). He also travels extensively and is founder of the Talliston interior design and art project, both attempts to realise a life full of enchantment, magic and those mysterious forces of story which move the human soul.
Tell us about your book:
The A-Men are down-and-dirty dystopian speculative fiction. Yet the trilogy is far from being ‘big and dumb’. Dig deeper and you’ll find these are stories about the fundamentals of belief, happiness and the eternal quest to solve life’s mysteries.
The target audience are adult science fiction and fantasy readers, video games players and lovers of dystopian literature and films.
How long did it take to write the book?
Each novel takes about twelve months to research, plot and write, and then another six months for editing and reworking.
What inspired you to write the book?
The most enjoyable aspect of the trilogy was planning the faerie story underpinning the science fiction post-apocalyptic narrative. I had a notion once that wondered what would happen if in the ruins of civilisation someone dug up a copy of The Lord of the Rings and thought it was real history. The A-Men is like that. It takes that idea and runs with it, all guns blazing.
The most difficult aspect when writing The A-Men is the sustaining of the different first-person voices of the five main characters. This kind of literature demands realistic narrative voices and is very different from most of the other writing I have undertaken so far.
To get the street slang voice of the main protagonist The Nowhereman, I read a lot of Kerouac and other 1940s noir novels, then drank lots of Jack Daniels and just let it flow. Once I had the voice, I finally managed to devise a way to tap into that “inner Jack” without the alcohol.
Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
Since the first novel was published an increasing amount of time has been spent editing and marketing, but I’m hoping to get back to writing in the near future.
As I have a full-time career in magazine publishing with a long commute, I write usually on a Sunday and then edit via laptop on the train into work. It’s a hard juggling act, but it helps I have my own space to lock myself away in at home.
What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
All my novels are about belief, and how this one aspect makes or breaks our lives. That seems simple, but it’s taken me a long time to see and realise it. I hope that the lessons learned by the main protagonist will resonate in readers’ minds.
Where can we go to buy your book?
Either direct from my author website, Amazon or search online for the best prices/suppliers.
Any other links or info you’d like to share?
Hardcover (UK edition)
Hardcover (US edition)
Kindle (UK edition)
Kindle (US edition)
Unabridged dramatised podcast
Excerpt from book:
From the first novel:
Later I’m with Esther. In some kind of rig. Armoured suit. Strapped into a great mesh seat. All around me sit similar hulking shapes. Dim lights. All one hundred and twelve of my E-Unit buddies. Something dripping around us. Water. Oil. Can’t be sure. For all I know could be blood. Esther sits opposite me. Her black face sticking from her camo green helm, she regards me with unreadable eyes.
Why’d I do that to you, I think, but in thinking I know I’ll never know. The memory’s lost in Doc Grisholm’s PTA. Still, got to say something.
So I say: “Where am I?”
“You’re in the land army.”
Laugh. Comes out like a snort.
“The land army? So where’s all the land?”
She points. And in pointing I see it.
The planet looming. Rising past the porthole. The sweeping azure curve of a vast expansive ocean. The cloud-hung brown of a savaged coastline.
Esther casts a quick look out the porthole.
“We’re going down,” she says simply.
The grunts cough and shift in the semi-darkness around us. I ignore them. Have to keep talking. Keep my eyes on the woman. Keep my mind off what’s about to happen. About what’s happened. Tricky ’cause just about then below our feet engines whine. Locks clang open. And the fear of falling starts to burn in my chest.
“So who am I?”
“Your name’s Jack.”
“Jack? Jack what?”
“You tell me, honey. You never said. You just called you ‘Jack’ all the time I knowed you. Could be jack shit for all I care.”
That amuses me.
“Yeah. That’s about right. Jack shit. I like that.” Nod and grin. Now it’s Esther’s turn to snort.
“You better be careful around me, white boy,” she continues. “Better act sweeter than pie. Better… after what you did.”
I try to feign ignorance, but I can’t. Don’t even get close.
“Today’s been a bit of a strain,” I explain. “I’ll try harder. I promise.”
The black woman sizes that up. Trying to guess if I’m jacking with her. Whether I’m serious. Finding no suitable answer, she gets preachy.
“He who fails to prepare for the night, fails to prepare for the dawn.”
“Look, brata, you got me all wrong. I’m in this to survive. This life. I don’t think about the bad things. Just the good things. I’m a survivor. While all those about me are losing their heads, I’m keepin’ mine. You understand me? I’m an optimist. Don’t let none of that bad karma get me down. Not one single bit. Don’t have one pessimistic bone in my body. Not one. Ut-uh, not one.”
The metal beneath us grinds again. Sounds like doors. Great doors gaping. Thirty-five thousand kilometres below can’t imagine how the ground looks. Can’t imagine how it’ll feel to fall that far. Can’t imagine why they’re still letting me go. Why my ass isn’t already hanging out to dry. But I can’t ignore it. I have to ask. To know.
“Why they sending me?”
Something twitches across Esther’s face. Like the shadow of a grave. Then she says, “Why not. Strøm needs all the guns he can get.”
She’s lying, I realise, but I’m too scared of the fall to care. Got to take my mind off it. Just keep focusing on Esther. Her dark brown eyes. Got to keep her talking. When she talks I don’t think of the drop. Well, not exclusively.
“Why’d you join the army? Just for the front row seat when the shit goes down?”
“Wrong again, private. A doctor don’t be a doctor because he gets to deal in death, but because he gets to deal in life. A firefighter don’t believe everything will burn, but that some things won’t. Some things can be saved. That’s where I come in. Why I signed up. ’Cause I believe I can make a difference. That people can be delivered. That there’s a way to avoid mass destruction through the presence of force.”
“You’re crazy. So you wanna shoot people to save lives?”
“A doctor don’t make people die. A fireman don’t start fires. A cop don’t make crime. And a soldier don’t make wars.”
“I see. Very idealistic.”
“What’s your problem, man? Why you here?”
“Honestly, I don’t know.”
“Sure you do. You told me.”
My interest is piqued.
“What’d I tell you?”
“You said you was getting away from yourself. Wiping the slate clean. Cutting loose.”
“I said that?”
“Yeah. Or thereabouts. Course, you spoke a lot different then. Doc says the op took a lot out of you.”
The cages shudder. Somewhere outside I can feel us gaining speed. Banking. My stomach sickens and I tighten my grip on the rails.
“Yes, it did. Did I say anything else to you?”
“Not much. Guess you don’t recall the last thing I said to you, do you?”
“What in the dorm?”
The word tingles with meaning.
“I said, you can’t get away from your own shadow.”
“No, just plain truth tied up ugly.”
“Great. So let’s get this straight. I’m in the wrong body. On the wrong planet. And eight fucking hours too late.”
“‘Bout sums it up.”
Another thought snags in the fluttering mess of my mind.
“Why was I green-lighted? Why am I here? After… you know?”
“You just asked me that.”
And yet I really can’t recall that I did. Her eyes tell me that she doesn’t trust me. However coolly she seems to be treating me. Perhaps the doc had no desire to keep me behind. Perhaps they want me in their sights. Or under a tank. What better way than getting rid of the bad ass than whacking him in the line of some friendly fire?
I shiver at the thought of this. Turns the figures around me into monstrous skulking beasts. To take my thoughts off this I start getting curious again.
“How long till we… y’know?” I say to Esther.
“Feel the metal shaking?”
“That’s a giveaway.”
“By my reckoning, less than sixty.”
Look around. Everyone’s edgy as hell. Feel the tension. Running through the metal like it’s alive. Below us the pod we’re in trembles. One long slow burning towards orgasm.
Oh, shit this.
My hands twitch. Fists clench and unclench. I’m desperate for something. Something unknown, unnamed. Feels like a need. Dependency maybe. Maybe not.
“Do I do drugs or something?” I ask. “Feels whizzy. Laevo-amphetatamine? Methylenedioxymethamphetamine?” Again the words, the alien language of chemical perfection, come easily. “Am I on anything? Dextromoramide? Methadone? Anything like that?”
Esther shakes her head.
“Do I smoke?”
“I did. I just quit. Quitting all that other bollocks too. I’m starting from zero.”
“Not quite,” says Esther, “there is one more thing.”
Watch as the woman leviathan shifts inside her powered armour. Writhes beneath her metal seat. And brings out a brown satchel. Battered old thing. Torn straps. Looks like it belonged to some bag lady wrong side of the last millennium.
“What’s this?” I ask as she hands it across.
“Present. Wasn’t going to give it to you. Not after you went psycho. But I guess you deserve it now more than ever.”
“What is it?”
But I’m already tearing back the flap. Pulling out the bulky treasure inside.
It’s a book. A big battered tatty volume. Worn black leather cover. Feels real. Surely it’s not. Can’t be. Spine’s broken in places. Front’s carved like stone. Curves and leaves and ornaments. The name’s almost unreadable. Gold’s long since rubbed off. As if passed through a million hands before I hold it. Concentrate on the ghosts of the once words. Haven’t got a clue what it says at first. The letters have no meaning. Go cross-eyed trying to focus on them. Then I have it. The word. Forming in my mind like a bright sudden star.
“Where’d you get this?”
“You gave it to me.”
“I gave it to you?” I repeat. Baffled by this.
“Clear as you are now.”
“To make sure you got it later. I’ve given it to you once already. Right after manoeuvres. That time you got real angry. Real real angry. Like you didn’t want no part of it. Like you knew what it was.”
“But I have no idea what it is–”
Turn the book over in my hands. Room seeming to turn with it. Almost drop the fucking thing. Instead I open up the cover. Just to see what’s there.
What’s there is a big black and white map. And in the corner there’s a message. From me to me. Writing’s chaotic and jumbled. Like this is the first time I’d held a pen in my life. It says:
“To Jack. Welcome to Forevermore. Population: you. The faerie tale is over, but perhaps this time around you’ll find your happy ever after. Yours truly, Jack.”
And just as I’m through reading these words, hidden callipers spring open and we are dropped into orbit.
And straight into the eye of the shitstorm.