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Stewart Ross - The Soterion Mission

Wednesday, 03 April 2013

What inspired you to write your book?
Two things.
First, I was struck by how strange it is that the longer human beings live, the longer they make human childhood. We’ve even invented ‘teenagers’ to make it ever longer.
Second, visiting primary schools and finding Year 6 manning the office at lunchtime, answering the phones, letting in visitors, and so on, I thought: Well, if they can do that at 11, why can’t they at 12, 13, 14, etc? Didn’t King Charles XII of Sweden lead his army into battle aged 15? So often people behave the way we expect them to behave.
How did you dream up the characters/setting/title?
The central character, Roxanne, came from my huge admiration for the intelligence and strength of Asian women. The other characters evolved around her as the plot demanded. Obviously there must be some of me in Cyrus.
The setting is everywhere and nowhere. It’s a base of Australia with added pinches of central Asia and elsewhere.
The title means salvation or, more generally, hope.
Can you describe your book in one sentence?
The 21st Century’s answer to Lord of the Flies.
How do you write – can you describe your typical writing day? Are you a lark or an owl, write by hand or on computer, write at home or in office, very structured in terms of plotting or more free flowing with editing afterwards?
The Soterion Mission was first written for Fiction Express which meant I had to write one chapter every week in accordance with the wishes of the readers who determined where the plot would go (with parameters set by the author). So the first draft was written morning, noon and night (sometimes on my phone in the car in a lay-by).   The revision was a more leisurely and thoughtful process.  I usually work early in the morning until lunch time, then take the dog for a walk, deal with correspondence etc and go back to work in the evening for an hour or so – that makes me a Lowl!  
Surely nowadays no one still writes by hand? However, I do make notes with a pen and correct drafts with red ink or a pencil. 
I write in a wooden hut in the garden, known as Auld Reekie. I believe that writing a novel is helped by comparing it to going on a journey – it is a good idea to have some idea where you are headed before you set out.  We can all think of fine novels let down by disappointing endings. That said, characters have an awkward habit of taking on a life of their own, so the best laid schemes …
What do you hope young readers will think when they have read your book?
Wow – I can’t wait for the sequel, the Revenge of the Zeds!
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