Interview with Danie Ware, Author, ‘Ecko Rising’


Danie Ware is the author of Ecko Rising:

In a futuristic London where technological body modification is the norm, Ecko stands alone as a testament to the extreme capabilities of his society. Driven half mad by the systems running his body, Ecko is a criminal for hire. No job is too dangerous or insane.

When a mission goes wrong and Ecko finds himself catapulted across dimensions into a peaceful and unadvanced society living in fear of ‘magic’, he must confront his own perceptions of reality and his place within it.

A thrilling debut, Ecko Rising explores the massive range of the sci-fi and fantasy genres, and the possible implications of pitting them against one another. Author Danie Ware creates an immersive and richly imagined world that readers will be eager to explore in the first book in this exciting new trilogy.

I see that you describe yourself as a writer of “Sardonic Fantasy”. What does that mean?

Not myself, just the writing! ‘Sardonic Fantasy’ is the book’s tone of voice; it’s a bit savage and bit sarcastic, it’s a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun. It’s a sneaky and sideways poke at the genre/s we know and love. I guess it’s all about Ecko’s mindset and the colours in which he sees things. Parts of it the book are derivative, and they’re absolutely meant to be – if you’re a reader, or a gamer, you’ll know exactly where you are – and where he is – and what I mean!

I understand that you had to defer your dreams of a writing career for a while, but now you’re pursuing it full-force. How does it feel? Do you have any tips for would-be writers constrained by time and schedule issues?

It feels very strange! I gave up writing for eight years – not even because I meant to, more because my life just… caught me up. I turned round one day and I had a job, and a commute, and a mortgage, and a baby, and all of that grown-up stuff. I had no time or energy for creativity. Then, after going to an SF Con in ’08 (first time in years) I found the community, and the confidence, to pick up the pen again. Initially, I was very cautious, and was only putting words together to see what happened – and then Ecko became the result.

I’m a working single parent, and fitting a writing schedule round a job and a child isn’t easy. The only advice I can give is the age-old classic – put bum on seat, put fingers on keyboard. Turn you server off; get your arse off Twitter. Do something every day, don’t let it linger without touching it, keep the characters alive and talking to each other – and write whenever you can. Twenty minutes here, an hour there, a half a day (if you’re lucky!) somewhere else. Get used to writing in spurts – then, when you do get time, the hard work has been done!

Ecko Rising jumps across a couple of genres, from cyberpunk to fantasy. It seems like that would be an awful lot to bite off and chew, but you’ve succeeded handily. Did you originally intend to send it off in this direction? Is there a genre that you’re more comfortable in? Which side of the story was the most challenging?

The concept was there from the very beginning, a throwback to the somewhat bonkers, collective-creative days of our twenties, when we threw everything at everything else just to see what would go bang. When I started writing Ecko, I had no idea that ‘it had never been done before’. So yes, the intention was always there, I just didn’t realise it was unusual!

The challenge of the story wasn’t one genre or the other, it was looking at the fantasy world through the cyberpunk eyes – making Ecko’s point of view distinctive. And that was where the swearing came in (as it’s such a contentious subject)! It was also why the fantasy world was made essentially familiar (with a couple of tweaks) – so that the reader could relate, not only to the fantasy world as they, the reader, see it, but also to the radical change when they’re looking at it from Ecko’s standpoint. I hope that makes sense!

Ecko is an anti-hero – decidedly so. How much of a challenge is it to make a character villainous but likable?

It was never conscious! The character was a completely random inspiration – he was created in an instant, and then he took on a life of its own. Ecko appeals because he’s the outrage in all of us, he’s that bit of us that doesn’t want to do what we’re told, and that kicks back against the system. He’s very smart, but equally h’s got a powerful energy and a ceaseless forward motion that means he’ll go off half-cocked and at odd angles. The ‘angry teen’ thing makes him a lot of fun to write, if unpredictable!

Describe Ecko Rising by filling in the blanks. “Ecko Rising is like _____ meets _____. If you like ______ then you’ll love this book.”

Okay, that’s floored me – professional marketer I may be, but I don’t have a clue. Ecko Rising is like Covenant on amphetamine, it’s like Life on Mars, or the ultimate reinvention of the Connecticut Yankee. It’s like some bastard hacker re-wired the wardrobe before you’d quite made it out the other side.

It’s daring and it’s different, but, at the end of the day, I’ve been a fantasy reader since I was a teen – and this probably comes through strongest of all.

If you like your mash-ups a little darker, then you’ll love this book!