His latest novel Set the Seas on Fire was released by Solaris in August and I’m happy that he took the time to answer Questions 5.
Chris, as a Texan, I can only assume that along side your expertise in cowboy boots, horseback riding and BBQ, that you can let the world know the proper way to prepare armadillo. How do you prefer your armadillo?
CR: As a matter of fact, I do own a pair of cowboy boots, I spent a bit of time as a kid riding horses (and have the belt buckle I won in a barrel-riding competition to prove it), and consume my weight in BBQ on a regular basis. And so I can tell you with some sense of authority that armadillo makes a pretty lousy entrée. See, the hairy little bastards carry leprosy, and no stringy roadkill is worth having your nerves go dead and bits of you falling off. That said, I’m sure that someone has developed a tofu-based substitute, “almostdillo” or some such, with all the great stringy taste and none of the leprosy, in which case the clear answer would be that teriyaki is the way to go.
While some out there can see the obvious connection between monkey brains and books, others could use a bit of direction – please enlighten us.
CR: I think it’s a kind of litmus test, actually. MonkeyBrain Books appeal to the kind of reader who instinctively gets why having a monkey’s exposed brain on the spine is perfectly fitting. But I suppose there might be a transitive property there, and if a reader who doesn’t get it buys and reads the books anyway, maybe they’ll come to understand, sooner or later.
How do you picture the ‘natural habitat’ of Set the Seas on Fire?
CR: In every home in the English-speaking world? Too broad? Then how about in the personal library of every reader who thinks that “Napoleonic era nautical adventure” and “love story” and “Polynesian zombies” are three phrases that fit together perfectly.
What peculiar qualities of Set the Seas on Fire should readers be aware of?
CR: So far as I’ve been able to determine (and the very excellent copy editor, Lawrence Osbourn, agreed), there’s not a word in the book that wasn’t in use by 1808, the period in which the story is set. And believe me, sitting in the 21st century and trying to figure out how to describe “bioluminescence” in as few words as possible using an early 19th century vocabulary was no fun at all.
Why should Set the Seas on Fire be the next book that everyone reads?
CR: Well, obviously, because sooner or later everyone will read it, and wouldn’t it be better to be ahead of the curve, and to be able to say that you read and enjoyed the book long before it became simply another status symbol?