Tales Q&A with Eugene Lambert
I am super excited to be a part of the #LostandFound Blog Tour and today I have been paired up with the brilliant Eugene Lambert!
Eugene Lambert is the debut author of The Sign Of One which was released on the 7th April 2016 published by Electric Monkey and is a brilliant YA Sci-fi read!
For our stop of the tour I have had the chance to put some questions to Eugene all about his books, writing, evil twins and Sci-fi!
But first a little about the Lost and Found Tour……
About The Lost and Found Tour
5 YA SCBWI debut authors get together for a UK tour.
Olivia Levez (The Island), Patrice Lawrence (Orangeboy), Kathryn Evans (More of Me), Sue Wallman (Lying About Last Summer), Eugene Lambert (The Sign of One)
Birmingham Waterstones for the launch event chaired by me, Chelley Toy!
Saturday, 1st October, 2-4pm
Join us for a discussion of identity, loss, and the darkness inside; of self-discovery, friendship, and hope for a better tomorrow as part of the #LostandFound Book Tour.
Unflinching, clever and honest, our five authors explore what it means to grow up when the cards seem to be constantly stacked against you.
Don’t miss your chance to meet these amazing authors, ask questions, and get your books signed.
Book your tickets here:
More Tour Dates
Catch us at any of the following tour locations
Sat 1st Oct, 2pm
Thurs 6th Oct, 6pm
London Islington Waterstones
Sat 26th Nov
Thurs 1st Dec
Sunday 22nd January
Hampshire Libraries, Petersfield
|Sat 4th March||
On a dump-world called Wrath, idents are hated and feared.
Only one twin is human,
the other a monster with ‘twisted’ blood.
Kyle’s a tough loner, scraping a living from the harsh Barrenlands.
Sky’s an ident rebel, set on avenging her dead sister.
Thrown together, they must set aside their differences and fight for each other.
Survival won’t be easy,
as Wrath’s secrets run deep and dark and nasty.
Hi Eugene! It’s so wonderful having you here today answering all of my questions!
Can you tell us a little about your debut that was released earlier this year, The Sign Of One?
Hi Michelle! The Sign of One is a Sci-Fi thriller for young adults (of all ages J) set on a dump-world called Wrath, where ‘idents’ are hated and feared. Why? Because only one twin is human, the other a superhuman monster with ‘twisted’ blood. The main protagonists are Kyle, a tough loner scraping a living out in the harsh Barrenlands, and Sky, a daring windjammer pilot and ident rebel. Thrown together after Kyle stumbles across a cruel truth, they must put aside their differences to survive. But the odds are stacked against them … for Wrath’s secrets run deeper and nastier than either can possibly imagine! It was published in April 2016 on Egmont UK’s Electric Monkey imprint.
What inspired you to create the world of Wrath and the concept of identical twins being feared?
My DNA and a t-shirt. I’m an identical twin myself. My much younger brother (by a whole 15 minutes) is called Martin. For a laugh, I bought us both a t-shirt with the slogan ‘I can’t remember if I’m the good twin or the evil one.’ Especially when we were children, we’d often be jokingly asked which one of us was the ‘evil’ one? I got to thinking … what if there really was a world where identical twins were actually considered evil? And why might that be? The rest, as they say, is history!
PS – Martin’s the evil one, by the way. Obviously.
How did you come up with the title? Did it change during the publication process?
Quite early in writing the first draft, I imagined Wrath-dwellers making some sort of sign to ward off the evil they saw in ‘idents.’ Inspired by the English and Welsh archers at Agincourt sticking up two fingers to the French, I imagined my characters making a gesture that celebrated their ‘one-ness,’ and chanting a ‘one is good, two is evil’ mantra. I called this gesture the Sign of One. Shortly afterwards, the penny dropped that it might make an enigmatic title. And I still think it does, but – amusingly – it has caused a few trilogy issues. We can’t exactly refer to the sequel as The Sign of One #2 L So, if anybody can think of a cracking trilogy name then I’m all ears (as is my editor, the lovely Stella Paskins). Seriously.
Can you tell us a little about the main characters in The Sign Of One, Kyle and Sky?
Kyle’s a bit of a loner growing up out in the remote Barrenlands with just his mother, Rona, for company. He’s handy, good at fixing stuff and pretty self-reliant. Sometime he wonders who his father was, and why Rona never likes to stay any place for very long. As for idents, he knows they’re evil, but he feels sorry for them more than anything.
Sky’s a ‘scab,’ Wrath-slang for the human or ‘pureblood’ ident. Her life has been hell: seized from her despairing parents at four, she’s grown up in an ident concentration camp; lost most of the use of her left leg in an accident, and watched her ‘twist’ sister die. But Sky’s tough, fierce and a survivor. Fighting for the ident resistance now, she’s a daring and skilful windjammer pilot. Bottom line – nobody messes with Sky, not if they know what’s good for them!
I’ve always been an SF fan, ever since I can remember. For the younger me, Star Wars, Alien, Mad Max, Terminator and Bladerunner were all massive. For example, I remember Martin and I walking to the bus-stop on our way to our A-levels humming the theme tune to Star Wars. I always preferred that downbeat and battered version of the future, the so-called ‘Used Future’ trope, which is the gritty end of the Sliding Scale of Shiny versus Gritty J. This felt way more real than (say) Star Trek, with shiny spaceships and clingy uniforms. Firefly was a more recent inspiration, but in the same deliciously shabby vein. I also love the whole steampunk vibe. So, should Mr. Whedon read this and come calling, that’s how I would like The Sign of One filmed. Okay? Please.
What was your favourite scene to write?
Hmmm … tough question without dropping a spoiler. But one favourite was when Kyle and Sky bail out from the windjammer they’ve stowed away on. I’ve done a few parachute jumps, so I know just how scary it is to throw yourself out of a perfectly serviceable aircraft. I enjoyed dropping them into a swamp full of creepy crawlies too. Us authors can be very mean …
Do you see yourself in any of the characters in The Sign Of One or have you used any of your own experiences in the story?
Guilty as charged. I think there’s a fair bit of me in Kyle. He’s a reluctant hero (I’d be a VERY reluctant hero!) More than anything, I wanted him to come across as believable, not some one-dimensional kick-ass Hollywood stereotype. So Kyle feels fear and anxiety, and he makes mistakes. We all do. Sky’s perhaps a bit more fierce and extreme, but that reflects her background. As for my experiences, I’m a keen glider pilot, and the windjammer flying scenes borrow from that.
If you could cast your characters from The Sign Of One in a big Hollywood film adaptation who would you choose?
Ooh, yes please, but a tough one because Hollywood always casts actors that are unreasonably good looking! But how about a younger Daisy Ridley as Sky, a resurrected Anton Yelchin from Terminator Salvation as Kyle, and Luke Evans from the Hobbit movies as their mercenary ally, Murdo Dern. And Sigourney Weaver because … well, just because.
What would you like your reader to take from The Sign Of One?
The Sign of One is primarily an adventure story, so first of all I hope the reader gets a kick out of that. However, it’s also about identity, the evils of and prejudice and discrimination, what it is that makes us ‘human’ and where courage comes from.
What do you think makes a good story?
Personally, I like stories that start out enigmatic so I’m not sure what’s going on. I like wondering, and I like surprises. I also love the ah-hah moments, when I finally figure things out. Characters I can relate to are important. Fundamentally though, even if its SF or Fantasy, the best stories have to make sense and the characters’ motivations have to be believable. A good story leaves you yearning for more. A good example, Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick. Genius, pure and simple.
As a debut author what is the biggest challenge you have faced?
Swatting the self-doubt and keeping going.
The Sign Of One is the start of a trilogy – can you tell us a little about the sequel?
Volume two, Into The No-Zone, will be published in April 2017 and here’s an early draft blurb:
So much for being a rebel hero,
Kyle’s on the run again.
Only this time everyone is after him,
even his own kind.
And the only place left to hide?
The lair of the Reaper.
We would love to know a little bit more about you! Can you give us 5 random facts we don’t know about Eugene Lambert?
- Nerd alert: I log every book or short story that I read.
- I have double-jointed thumbs. So does Martin!
- My grandfather, also Eugene, was imprisoned by the British during the Irish Civil War. A small misunderstanding involving explosives and a bridge!
- I can’t stand eggs, unless they’re in cakes J.
- I’m a big fan of motorcycle racing and Valentino Rossi.
Growing up who inspired you into writing? Are there any Authors or books that inspired you?
Ever since I can remember I was the classic bookworm, and I enjoyed writing stories in English class in school (although I’m sure they were awful). I only really started writing when I was living and working in the States in the late 80s, but I can’t really remember a specific book as inspiration. I think it was a case of ‘I love books, so let’s have a go at writing one!’
Are there any recent works or authors that you admire or books you wish you had written?
Honestly, too many to list in terms of works I admire (but see next question for some standouts). And it’s not so much ‘books I wish I’d written’ as ‘I wish I could write like X does’ where X is Alan Garner, Neil Gaiman, Margo Lanagan, Patrick Ness, etc.
Any Sci-Fi book recs that you would highly recommend?
Hmmm, let me think. Well, for younger readers, I don’t think you can do better than Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines series. Mobile cities chasing smaller prey cities across a wasted post-apocalyptic landscape … what a vision! Then there’s the modern classics of the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness, both of which showed me what was possible in contemporary YA fiction. Going back a few years, I am Legend by Richard Matheson, Neuromancer by William Gibson and pretty much anything by the visionary that was Philip K. Dick, are all definitely worth a read.
What are you currently reading?
*Blushes* Actually, I’ve just finished reading ‘No Easy Day,’ a first-hand account of the SEAL Team 6 mission to take out Osama Bin Laden. Fascinating stuff about the modern military machine and better written than I’d expected, thanks to the co-author. Now, I’m about halfway through – and thoroughly enjoying – Olivia Levez’s YA debut novel, The Island. It’s a sort-of modern take on the Robinson Crusoe story and a superb story. The standard of YA books today is astonishing.
What is your favourite book of 2016 so far?
Wait, let me check my log … that’d be The Hobbit, which I re-read a month ago as a treat. If you mean a book published in 2016, it would be all the books by my fellow #LostandFounders, which are all so different yet so brilliantly written!
Are there any authors you would like to collaborate with? Who?
Sincerely, my brother Martin. He self-published a novel (available on Amazon) and it’s good. it would be great to write a book together, because I know how imaginative he is from when we used to make up stories together as kids. In terms of big-cheese-established-writers, it’d have to be Neil Gaiman!
When starting a new book or idea what does your writing process look like?
Hah. It looks like my doing a lot of sighing, staring out of windows and going for long walks. A lot of notes, more sighing, perhaps even a few curses thrown in. Paper being scrunched up and thrown away. And then, after a final (and completely essential) flurry of prevarication, the writing begins …
Do you have any strange writing habits?
Define strange 🙂 No, I don’t think so. When I start, I start at the beginning and write linearly. I’m not a massive planner, so I plan as much as I can and then dive in, relying upon everything to sort itself out during the writing. I edit as I go along.
I asked some lovely authors their thoughts about does music influence their books or their characters. Did music have any influence the story of The Sign Of One?
Nope. Can’t think of any musical influence. Wrath’s not a musical kind of place. As Kyle says one time, music’s nice, but you can’t eat it. But if you want to know what growing up as a twin is like, then listen to Disembodied Voices by the Finn Brothers (ex Crowded House). Seriously, it’s so spot on it almost makes me cry every time I listen to it.
Are there any exciting plans for the rest of 2016 or 2017
Well, I’ve just received my first edits for Into the No-Zone, so that’s exciting. I’ve also made a start on the final instalment, working title The Long Forever. Other than writing, I’m off on holiday to visit Japan later this year, fulfilling a long-held ambition of mine. A cliché I know, but I can’t wait!
Can you tell us a little about you and the #LostandFound Tour? How did the tour come about?
Our #LostandFound tour was Olivia Levez’s idea originally. I have to admit that I just got super-lucky and was invited to join the crew, which is such a privilege. Since then we’ve tried to work as a team to make the tour happen. It’s not long now until our first Waterstones gig, and we can’t wait!
And finally how is your character in The Sign Of One “found”?
Tricky to answer without spoilers, but suffice it to say that Kyle goes on a quest to find out what he his, and who he is. It’s a physical journey, but also an emotional one. He’s just a kid, not some Hollywood superhero. To find salvation, he must first ‘find’ the courage to quit running, turn and fight …
You can buy The Sign Of One here or from your local bookshop!
About Eugene Lambert
Eugene Lambert grew up in Wolverhampton, a fate worse than cliché. A refugee from the worlds of academia, science and engineering, he graduated from Bath Spa University with an MA in Writing For Young People in late 2013. When not scribbling in his cabin, he flies gliders and goes for long walks in the Cotswolds. Rumours of his being an identical twin are … true. Eugene’s debut SF novel, The Sign of One, was shortlisted for the 2014 Bath Novel Award. The list of writers who have influenced and inspired him is a long one, but Alan Garner and Patrick Ness would both be near the top of it!
You can catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!
A huge thank you to Eugene for being fab and answering all of my questions!
Also a huge thank you to all the Lost and Founders for having me on the tour and asking me to host the Birmingham event!
See you there!