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Author Q&A For The Secret Bunker: Regeneration
Big Spoiler Alert! Do not read until you finish book 3 – you have been warned!
Q: Phew, I just finished the final book … so now you'll talk freely?
A: Yes, I'm now happy to ‘access all areas' with your questions 🙂
Beware though, you should not read any further unless you have finished reading all of book 3.
Q: Let's start with the basics, just to get warmed up … aliens?
A: Yes, I'd been hinting at it from book 1, hopefully you could see it coming a mile off by the time you'd read book 2.
I wanted the action to expand exponentially from the dark, claustrophobic feel of book 1, to the international flavour of book 2, then into space in book 3.
However, I didn't want to get into Star Wars territory where the look of the aliens distracts from what they're up to in the story.
I made them as humanoid as possible – because in plot terms, they're just different characters.
However, the use of alien technology and unknown alien cultures gave me some nice plot options, so I was keen to go into this space.
Although I love sci-fi, I like my stories ‘real' and gritty, I don't like comedic characters in my sci-fi, so I played Davran and Zadra Nurmeen completely straight.
Q: Where did you get the alien names?
A: Okay, I admit it, you caught me out on this one!
I used an online alien name generator until I found one that worked for me: https://www.scifiideas.com/alien-name-generator/
I think I still changed them a bit, but this helped me to get some ideas going.
Q: What made you use real-life historical events so much?
A: I was 18 when the original Star Wars initiative was proposed by President Ronald Reagan, and even then it made perfect sense to me.
Render all nuclear weapons useless by being able to shoot them out of the sky – it seems an obvious ambition to me!
It occurred to me that I didn't really know what was happening with this, so I did a bit of digging.
I half -remembered the test being abandoned, but I just couldn't remember what was going on.
After a bit of digging and research on this topic, it seemed like the perfect way to blend reality and fiction.
It was exciting to me as an author to weave real-life events into my story like this.
Q: We get a massive surprise in each of the books, do you really have to make us go through that?
A: Of course!
The big twist in book 1 is Nat's identity (and Amy's health issue), the big shock in book 2 is the other bunker locations and the real purpose of the lower levels and it's Dr Pierce and the ‘is he dead or isn't he dead' storyline right at the end helped me to generate those ‘breath taking' moments throughout the trilogy.
My policy when writing the entire trilogy was to leave every small section, chapter and book with a question, a dramatic event or a cliffhanger.
I've seen The 100 using this to really good effect recently, every scene ends on some dramatic turn, and that's exactly what I was trying to achieve here.
They use a similar style, I just can't put their books down and I was trying to emulate that in The Secret Bunker.
Q: You generate a lot of sympathy for Henry Pierce in this book, why not make him a total baddie?
A: I wanted to show him as a victim as much as a conventional baddie.
It could have been either Pierce that ended up like this, they were experimented on and dumped as children, they're both victims in this story.
They just chose different paths, and Harold shows mostly sadness with Henry, he's never vindictive or spiteful, in spite of what he does at the end of the book.
Besides, in a final twist, it turns out that the real baddie in the story is a certain alien who's been using Henry, just like everybody else has.
Henry gets quite a rough deal really – in spite of the horrible things he does to Nat.
Q: Does anybody else comment that this trilogy would make a great film?
A: Yes, so many readers tell me that ‘they should make it into a film'.
That really pleases me, because I was thinking ‘cinematically' when I wrote the books.
I'd love Lionsgate to make the film because they tell my type of story so well.
And I would love the filming to take place at the real Secret Bunker in Fife, that would really put the place on the map.
I've got it all figured out, you'd use green screen technology in the corridors, you'd film during the bunker's closed season during November, December, January and February … in short, it's perfect 🙂
Q: There are a lot of plot threads to tidy up in this final book, was that difficult?
A: Yes, it certainly was!
I'd made notes in a spreadsheet throughout the first draft process, recording any details that I needed to resolve or explain later on.
A good example of this is Amy pressing to hard on the ‘return' button on her laptop in book 1, this causes Mike a delay issue in book 3.
I call these ‘crumb trails', as in Hansel and Gretel, the crumbs need to lead somewhere by the final page.
So right from 35k words in book 3, I was bringing those threads together to make sure tat everybody ended up were they needed to be at the end.
This is what I was working from in parts 3 and 4:
Q: Is this really the end for The Secret Bunker?
A: Yes … and no!
I'm really proud of the characters that I created in these stories and as I've been drafting and re-drafting, I've come to realize that I can't just forget them.
My next book is The Grid and you may just get some surprises in that trilogy is you loved The Secret Bunker.
The setting, themes and locations for The Grid are completely different … but let's just say that Scotland's Secret Bunker might be making a guest appearance as well as some of the characters for the first trilogy 🙂
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