Episode 21: Science Fiction… with Gareth L. Powell

Gareth L. Powell was born and raised in Bristol, England. He is a popular panelist and speaker at literary events and conventions around the UK and has run creative writing workshops and given guest lectures at a number of universities, libraries and conferences. He’s a frequent guest on local radio, and has appeared on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme.

His alternate history thriller Ack-Ack Macaque won the 2013 BSFA Award for Best Novel. His most recent novel, Embers of War, a space opera described as “fast-paced, fun and full of adventure,” is now available through Titan Books.

His short fiction has appeared Interzone, Clarkesworld, and The Year’s Best Science Fiction, and his story ‘Ride The Blue Horse’ was shortlisted for the 2015 BSFA Award.

Luna Press will publish About Writing, his field guide for aspiring authors, in 2019.


Gareth mentions a few links during our interview:

His Patreon page can be found at: https://www.patreon.com/GarethLPowell

You can follow him on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/garethlpowell

You can find his website at www.garethlpowell.com

His latest book is Embers of War and is available here.

His other books are available here.


Today’s Wise Word comes from writer Kazuo Ishiguro and I thought it was in keeping with Gareth’s advice to avoid writing what you THINK people want to read, but instead write what you’re passionate about:

“Write about what you know” is the most stupid thing I’ve heard. It encourages people to write a dull autobiography. It’s the reverse of firing the imagination and potential of writers. “

  • Kazuo Ishiguro

I think what Ishiguro is talking about here is writing from a place of passion. Even it’s not something you “know,” your interest in and passion about the story will shine through. Plus, the research process to make the topic something you DO know will be a joy because it’s something you’re authentically interested in.


Our weekly challenge this week is drawn from Gareth Powell’s writing. He is a master of putting his reader in an unexpected perspective, be it a massive space ship like Trouble Dog from Embers of War or a cynical, one-eyed, cigar-chomping monkey from Ack-Ack Macaque. This week, I’d encourage you to identify a non-human element of your story and spend some time writing from it’s perspective. Let me give you an example: In my current work-in-project, my protagonist is trying to survive a trek through the Oregon wilderness after a massive earthquake separates her from her family. The destroyed landscape plays a huge role in the story and is, at least externally, the protagonist’s main antagonist. So, this week, my challenge will be to write part of this story from the perspective of the landscape she is travelling through. Now, this may never become a part of the story–in fact, it almost certainly won’t–but I bet it’ll uncover details and perspectives that hadn’t occurred to me before. I hope you’ll give this a try and let us know how it goes by getting it touch with us at the Talk to Us link at BradReedWrites.com.