DAMNATION: An Interview with Peter McLean

I've known Peter for a while, but was surprised to see he'd sent a package wrapped in black paper. Inside was a foul-mouthed statue of a chained, burned little bastard who required blood to help me summon the rent money. After I phoned Peter to complain about the weird totem he'd sent, I managed to calm down enough to discuss his forthcoming book, and the third in the Burned Man series, DAMNATION, published by Angry Robot


-The Interview-

SG -  DAMNATION is the third novel in the Burned Man series. Can we expect more?

PM - Oh yes, I very much hope so. Don Drake’s story is far from over – in fact it may only just be beginning!

SG - What prompted moving Drake from London to Glasgow?

PM - Ah, now without spoiling the end of DOMINION for anyone who hasn’t read it yet, Don Drake really needed to get out of London for a while. He initially heads to Glasgow looking for Debbie, his long-suffering girlfriend from the first book, and he eventually ends up in Edinburgh. I especially like Edinburgh as a place and I’ve been there a number of times in person. As Don says in the first book, “It’s a spooky old city, is Edinburgh.”

SG - You put a lot of accurate occult info in your books. Do you have a history with the dark arts?

PM - I have a history of studying occultism, yes. Whether those arts are dark or not rather depends on a certain point of view, of course, and a lot of the magic in the books is wildly exaggerated for dramatic effect. All the same there are nuggets of truth in there as you say, for those who know where to look. I recently wrote a guest column on this very subject for another blog, in fact: https://ihate00critics.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/guest-post-peter-mclean.html

SG - Can you tell us about your other books coming from Penguin?

PM - Of course! This new series is my first foray into secondary world, “swords and horses” grimdark fantasy, set in a quasi-Tudor society but with echoes of the end of the First World War. Think of it as “The Godfather with swords” and you won’t be far wrong. The series as a whole is tentatively called THE PIOUS MEN and the first book, PRIEST OF BONES, is due for release in October 2018 from the Ace Books imprint of Penguin Random House.

SG - Favorite SFF archetype?

PM - Wizards, hands down. I’m a sucker for wise, powerful old magicians, especially ones who turn out to be less “benign grandfather” and more “manipulative old bastard”. Bayaz from Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series is one of my all-time favourite characters. I’m also very fond of the “damaged old soldier” archetype, as you’ll see in PRIEST OF BONES.

SG - Favorite scene from the book you can talk about?

PM - My favourite scene from Damnation is the very end, but obviously I can’t talk about that. Menhit from DOMINION is back though, and she has a great scene where she gets to show Don some extremely “tough love” healing which was great fun to write.

SG - Best writing advice you ever received?

PM - "Do The Work". Seriously, reading about writing isn't writing. Talking about writing isn't writing. Writing is writing. Sit down and write. 

DAMNATION releases May 2.

From the cover:

Shambolic demon-hunting hitman Don Drake is teetering on the edge of madness in this smart, witty urban fantasy novel.

Don Drake is living rough in a sink estate on the outskirts of Edinburgh, doing cheap spells for even cheaper customers while fending off the local lowlifes. Six months ago, Don fled from London to Glasgow to track down his old girlfriend Debbie the alchemist.

With the Burned Man gradually driving him mad, Don meets with an ancient and mysterious tramp-slash-magician, with disastrous consequences. Now his old accomplices must step into save Don from himself, before he damns himself for good this time.