An Interview with Daniel Price, author of The Flight of the Silvers

Yesterday I reviewed The Flight of the Silvers, Daniel Price’s new novel, which is out now from Blue Rider Press. Mr. Price graciously agreed to be interviewed via email.

When and how did the idea for The Flight of Silvers come to you? Did you know then that it would become a multi-part saga?

Daniel Price Photo courtesy of the author.

Daniel Price
Photo courtesy of the author.

DP: I’ve been developing the story for fifteen years now. I can’t even remember what originally inspired the idea. All I know is that the ending came to me first. Everything else—the world, the characters—sprang backward from that.

It wasn’t long before I realized that the plot was too big to contain in one book, which scared the crap out of me. I’d never written a series before, much less one about superpowered people on an alternate Earth. If I got it wrong. I’d be spending years of my life on a saga that either no one saw or everyone hated. Who wants that?

So I pushed the idea to the back burners and moved on to other projects. But the Silvers story kept poking at me. It took a brief bout with cancer to remind me that there were worse fates than trying and failing at something. I finally started writing Silvers in 2009, and it turned out to be the best decision of my life. Now on hindsight I wonder why the hell I was so nervous.

 

How was writing a sci-fi-action-suspense novel different from writing non-sci-fi fiction, like your first novel, Slick?

The Flight of the SilversDP: Like night and day. My first novel is a comedy set in the world of public relations, which I’d never personally been a part of. I was determined to research the hell out of it and get the details right. It was constraining, but I loved every minute of it.

With Silvers, I had more freedom than I knew what to do with. I could change the rules of reality, invent new history. It was unbelievably fun to dream up this stuff. The hard part was introducing the world in a way that didn’t make people go cross-eyed.

Fortunately, my alpha readers kept me honest. The earliest drafts of Silvers were littered with plot-stopping info dumps. My friends helped me smooth them over.

 

How did you go about conducting research for The Flight of the Silvers?

DP: As far as the science went, I didn’t go nuts. I read some extremely dumbed-down books on temporal physics until I had a good enough grasp on the new rules of my world. And with each manner of timebending I introduced, I did some speculation into the side effects and limitations, which led to some interesting new details.

But when it came to the worldbuilding, I did a ton of research. My alternate Earth exists in a timeline that drastically changed after a cataclysmic event in 1912. So I studied the culture of that era and then rebuilt world history, decade by decade. That also led to some fun new details.

The third aspect of my research was etymology. Every new word I introduce has a traceable origin. I didn’t want to make up stuff just because it sounds good.

 

Which other time-travel books/movies/shows would you recommend to fans of The Flight of the Silvers?

DP: For alternate history, nothing inspired me more than Watchmen. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons paint a world that’s completely recognizable and yet terrifyingly different. It blew me away when I first read it in 1986. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve devoured it since then.

In terms of temporal hijinks, I can’t say enough good things about Slaughterhouse Five. Kurt Vonnegut was the first writer to truly mess with my perception of time. And like all of his books, he wraps his craziness around a strong and beautiful character story.

 

Which writers do you read while writing? Do your reading choices change depending on the writing project at hand?

DP: Sadly, I can’t read other people’s fiction when I’m writing. It screws me up. I do take the occasional sanity break and tear through my read pile. The top two novels of my list right now are The Waking Engine, by David Edison and The Martian by Andy Weir. Looking forward to both of them.

 

I understand you’re working on the sequel to The Flight of the Silvers. How many books can we expect in the saga? And what other kinds of projects are on your horizon?

DP: I wish I could answer that second question, but I can’t see an inch beyond Silvers at the moment. I have a few ideas percolating, in both the sci-fi and “real world” genres, but it’ll be a long while before I get to touch any of them.

As for your first question, the Silvers series will fall somewhere between three to five books. The final number hasn’t been determined yet. Whatever happens, I promise the story will be resolved in a most definitive way. The whole thing began in my mind with an ending. I have every intention of getting there.

What’s a question that you wish interviewers would ask you,  and how would you answer it?

DP: Well, if I can’t get people to ask me how I got to be so awesome, then I suppose the next best question is “What puts you in a good mood these days?”

The answer is feedback. I love getting thoughtful comments from readers, whether it’s praise or constructive criticism. It’s just great to know that my stories are out there spinning gears in people’s heads. I encourage everyone who reads The Flight of the Silvers to let me know what they thought about it. Shoot me an e-mail. Post a review on Goodreads or Amazon. I write for the love of writing, but smart feedback is a major perk of the job. It’s the five-dollar bill in my tip jar.

My thanks to Mr. Price for his time and thoughtful answers! You can learn more about The Flight of the Silvers, and Daniel Price, on Mr. Price’s website, and you can follow him on Twitter: @SilversGuy.

Recommended Reading: The Flight of the Silvers, by Daniel Price

photo (55)“Time rolled to a stop on the Massachusetts Turnpike.”

That’s the first line of Daniel Price’s refreshing novel The Flight of the Silvers*, one of the most entertaining time-travel stories I’ve read in years. This first line signals not only that we’re in for some weird time-bending stuff but also that the author is interested in realism, not just the fireworks of mind-bending world-building. (Don’t worry, there’s that, too.)

As children, two sisters, Amanda and Hannah, witness time stand still when three mysterious and quite possibly malevolent strangers inexplicably rescue them from a — relatively speaking of course — mundane accident (near Chicopee, for my fellow Mass Pike-goers).

Seventeen years later, Amanda and Hannah are as different as two sisters can be, and yet, they, along with four strangers, are rescued from the end of the world by the silver bracelets snapped over their wrists by the same shadowy figures from the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Then the really weird stuff begins.

In their new world, which, refreshingly, is neither utopia nor dystopia, just a topia (ok, alt-topia), the six strangers navigate an America they don’t understand (that’s where the very cool world-building comes in) and personal powers that surprise and shock them. (I don’t want to give too much away, but think X-Men meets time travel meets Terminator 2. Kinda.) The forces tracking them are powerful in different ways, and are largely unfriendly, to say the least: the menacing, powerful strangers who saved them from apocalypse; an FBI-type agent hoping not to get an NSA-like agency involved; a group of strangers with their own superpowers and everything to lose; and a psychopath from their own America with a nasty grudge.

Two squabbling, sisters, one recovering alcoholic, one boy genius with possible sociopathic tendencies, one teenage girl, and one cynical comic-book artist attempt to evade them all without losing themselves in the process. While The Flight of the Silvers is a rollicking and often funny piece of speculative fiction, Mr. Price also asks questions about community, isolation, family, and immigration that figure prominently in our own place and time.

And a final word to the wise, dear readers: The Flight of the Silvers is the first in a multi-part series, and from where I sit, there’s no way it won’t become a film franchise.

*My thanks to Blue Rider Press for sending a review copy of The Flight of the Silvers.

Tomorrow: An interview with Daniel Price, author of The Flight of the Silvers