Andrew Weston is a Royal Marine and Police veteran from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats. An astronomy and law graduate, he is a writer of fiction and poetry. Creator of The IX as well as the Guardians and Cambion Journals series, Andrew is a member of the British Science Fiction Association and the British Fantasy Society. When not writing, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA in one of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories.
Q: The IX just hit Amazon’s #1 spot in the Sci Fi Greek and Roman category, and #35 overall for Hard Sci Fi. Can you tell us what it’s about?
A: Arden is home to a culture that has existed for thousands of years and which spans dozens of worlds. Regardless, their sophistication cannot prevent calamity at the hands of an unstoppable nemesis. Known only as the Horde, this enemy has proven relentless. They have not only stripped the outer colonies bare, but now threaten the existence of the entire Ardenese way of life.
Realizing there is nothing they can do to prevent the inevitable march toward extinction, the Ardenese governing body comes to a drastic decision. They gather together at their capital city, Rhomane, and place their remaining genetic heritage in a vast underground ark, in the care of an advanced AI construct called the Architect. Its mission? To use Rhomane’s dwindling reserves and safeguard their race by reaching out across time and space toward those who might be in a position to help reseed a devastated world at some time in the future.
Soldiers from varying eras and vastly different backgrounds find themselves snatched away from Earth at the moment of their passing and transported to the far side of the galaxy. Thinking they have been granted a reprieve, their relief turns to horror when they discover they face a stark ultimatum:
Fight or die!
Despite a host of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, this group of misfits manages to turn the tide against a relentless foe, only to discover the true cost of victory might exact a price they are unwilling to pay.
Q: What are some of the issues or surprises that involuntary time-travelers from second-century Rome have to face?
A: Well, first off, they’re not alone. Remember, when the gateway activates, it doesn’t just scoop them away to Arden, it takes their enemies too. So, you can only imagine the tension upon their arrival when they discover various factions of the Iceni marauder bands are there with them. Struggling to overcome that obstacle, they also have to face the hurdles of thousands of years disparity between their technological sophistication. Even with the Nano-bugs assisting to speed up their education, it’s an uphill struggle for them. However, as the story progresses, you find they manage surprisingly well.
Q: What inspired you to write The IX? How did this idea become a book?
A: I undertook the writing of The IX following an animated discussion during a Royal Marines veterans reunion dinner in the early part of 2013. Military history has always been a hobby of mine, and several ex-colleagues started a debate as to the true fate of the legendary lost 9th Legion of Rome. Five thousand men marched into the mists of Northern Caledonia (Scotland) around AD100 – 120 and were never seen again.
That conversation stayed with me for several months until I happened to catch an old movie on TV, Millennium. In that film, time travelers visit the present day and steal passengers from doomed aircraft with the intention of repopulating a barren world of the future.
I am an avid science fiction buff, and the conversation from the reunion dinner immediately sprang to mind. Obviously, I began to imagine what if? What if they were taken? Not into our future…but somewhere and somewhen else entirely. And what might it be like if their antagonists were also snatched away with them?
I started to let that thought roll, and came up with a nice twist. Would it be a good idea to include other groups of refugees from varying time periods, and throw them together into a nightmare scenario where they had to face the very real prospect of death all over again?
It took a great deal of research and preparation, but I was very pleased with the resulting outline, as it provided a fresh approach to an exciting genre. The rest–as they say–is history.
Q: What kind of research did you do for this book?
A: I had to do a massive amount of research for the IX. Remember, the inspiration was based on the 9th Legion of Rome. But, how were they structured? Who did what? How did they march, set up camp, and operate? What did they wear, and what weapons did they use? The Caledonian tribes of that time were vicious savages, and experts in jungle warfare. However, where did they come from? How did they fight? How far would they travel to engage in combat, and what made them capable enough to defeat entire legions?
Many, many facets like this had to be considered, and that was before I’d even started work on the composition and function of the many U.S. Cavalry companies and the Native American tribes of the eighteenth century. (Thankfully, I had a friend to assist me on that aspect – she’s of Cree descent, and proved to be a goldmine of information)
The easiest part related to the Special Forces unit. For that, I drew on firsthand military knowledge and experience of sticking it to the bad guys!
Once that was done, I then had to make certain the futuristic/scientific technology referred to within the story had a basis in fact. I called on my educational background in astronomy and physics for that. Even so, I still had to research the very latest developments, trends, and breakthroughs to ensure the ‘theoretical’ aspects had that ring of truth. Even though this is a science fiction novel, I wanted it to be believable. There’s no doubt in my mind that if you make things too farfetched and super-convenient, it turns readers off.
Despite the work involved, I really enjoy the research aspect, as it adds a depth of authority to your work that improves quality and reading enjoyment.
Q: Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser?”
A: A combination of both. I plan out where I want the story to begin, end, and where I’d like to stop along the way. But, I’ve also seen how a tale can easily take on a life of its own. So I’ve learned to run with it, and allow the narrative to develop its own unique character.<
Q: What is the story behind your dedication “to our veterans who faced the ultimate choice?”
A: It simply relates to those brave men and women of our armed forces who have given their lives in the protection of our liberty.
Q: How did you come to live in Greece?
A: After leaving the military, I became a police officer. Unfortunately, I was injured on duty to such an extent that I was medically retired. (In and out of hospital for a couple of years, registered disabled, told I’d never walk again.) I thought – No…I’m not having that, so I moved to where the climate is much warmer and fought my way back to fitness. I now run, train, teach and work in the security industry.
Q: Is The IX going to be the beginning of a series? What’s next for you?
A: When I wrote the IX, it was a one-off effort. A complete story in itself. However…I always leave the odd back door open, here and there. Just in case I might want to exploit a certain avenue later.
Q: I’ve saved the most important question for last: Where did you get that Captain Picard uniform? On what occasions do you wear it?
A: What can I say, I’m a stalker. I not only managed to get a hold of several of his uniforms, but purloined a year’s supply of Earl Grey tea along with them. I usually wear the uniforms on a weekend, where I pretend to be extremely important.