Today is an exciting day for me, because I have achieved one of my blogging goals in securing my very first author interview. Matt Adcock, author of the novel Complete Darkness has graciously joined me today to answer a few questions about his work. Hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.
Q1: Welcome to At Boundary’s Edge. For those who don’t know you, please introduce yourself.
Hi – I’m a science fiction and horror writer, I also co-host the cyberpunk podcast ‘Hosts in the Shell’ and am Chair of the Society of Authors Hertfordshire Branch. My first cyber-noir novel Complete Darkness was published in 2019 and was picked as a ‘Book of the Year’ by Den of Geek alongside the new books from Philip Pullman and Margaret Atwood.
I’m working on a second Darkmatters novel for my publisher, the working title is ‘Inherent Darkness’ and a series of short tales based on history around where I live, the first of which is ‘The Hertfordshire Drownings’ – about witches and curses.
I have also had short stories published for in Neo Cyberpunk Vols 1 & 2 and DREAD COLD (a horror anthology which I was also asked to write the foreword for).
Most exciting though is that Complete Darkness is being turned into a comic, the issues of which will eventually form a full graphic novel version of the book.
Q2: What can you tell us about your novel Complete Darkness?
Having been a film reviewer for a group of newspapers for 20 years I took a lot of inspiration from the host of genre experiences, that mixed with an unhealthy love of the Culture novels of Iain M Banks, the Dune and Foundation sagas. I worked for a theological college for some time and where the concept of an afterlife was often a discussion point. Complete Darkness is the output of this melting put of influences and takes a sci-fi stance to ponder the fact that for centuries many have feared the possible existence of what we call ‘hell’.
My ‘what if’ is what might happen if in the near future, we map the elusive ‘dark matter’ around us, only to find out that it is hell itself, and it is very real…
Cue having a satanic President Razour on an earth that he is already moulding into a living patriarchal hell – it seems as though the fate of us all might rest in the hands of Cleric20, a hedonistic loner with a chequered past, and his robot sidekick, GiX.
Described as an action-packed literary shock to the senses, the book mixes flights of comic fantasy with bouts of brutal violence. Can Cleric20 halt Razour’s devilish plans after an experimental bioweapon deployed to kill him accidentally gives him superpowers?
Has the Devil inadvertently created a hero who could actually stop him? Only one way to fins out and mankind’s only hope seems to be having a very bad day.
As a future nightmare, Complete Darkness was a lot of fun to write and employs a fairly unique fractured narrative style – it’s often a hyperkinetic ride that builds to a superpowered climax.
Q3: Science Fiction is a pretty broad genre. What is it that draws you to science fiction?
I read voraciously and sci-fi is probably my favourite genre. Growing up in the ‘70s / ‘80s with 2000AD each week, having my mind blown by Asimov and Frank Herbert, as well as the gonzo sci-fi that C.S. Lewis put out when not writing his Narnia stuff.
Couple that with a love of scary stories – James Herbert and Clive Barker being my favourite horror fantasy authors. When it came to write my own tale sci-fi allowed me to create a fusion of tech, magic, carnage and superheroes – all mixed in wildly advanced science.
The absolutely best thing about sci-fi is that there are no limits and literally anything can happen.
Setting the story in London2 allowed me to reference the places I knew and transform them into what they might become. Having mechs fighting battlemages on the streets of this rebuilt megacity is imagery that I had a great time exploring. I write in a concise style which many have said is evocative of comic books or film scripts – so whilst I have a love of the huge sprawling space operas, my works are much more bite sized.
Q4: COMPLETE DARKNESS is now being adapted as a graphic novel. How did this come about?
As a huge comic book geek, I’d always dreamed of one day creating a comic but never thought it would happen due to my utter lack of artistic ability. I was beyond delighted when during lockdown in 2020 a comic artist Karl Brown contacted me having read Complete Darkness and he said it would make a great comic. Fortunately, his artwork suited the story really well with its 2000AD retro style and so I knew it had to be. We ran a Kickstarter which raised almost £3,000 and issue one was born – along with fun merchandise including shirts, art cards and even customised Lego figures of characters.
The novel had already been influenced by comic creators such as Mark Millar’s Kick Ass, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight and 300, Alan Moore’s Watchmen and Grant Morrison’s The Filth, so now to be making the jump into their world of comics is an absolute joy.
The process of adapting the novel to comic has been a fascinating one too – letting the visuals do much of the story telling and just adding key script elements is a good discipline to learn. The first issue stands alone as the prologue to the novel but we are gearing up for translating the nightmare future world itself in issue two and beyond.
This next section is a little game I call d20 Questions. It’s simple. I have a list of questions numbered 1 to 20. I roll a twenty-sided die, and the first three questions rolled get thrown into the interview.
Q4/20: You’re stuck on a drifting spaceship. Which science fiction character do you call for help?
This is an easy choice – I’m going to hail Trouble Dog, the sentient spaceship and hero of Gareth L Powell’s incredible Embers of War trilogy. Trouble Dog is a Carnivore-class heavy cruiser who after committing a planet-scale massacre has sworn off war and joined the House of Reclamation (a kind of intergalactic search and rescue operation that serves all humanity, ignoring the borders of star nations). Fully equipped to help those in distress in space and packing enough weaponry to protect against any hostiles – she’d also be fun to chat to on the way home.
It might not be usual but Trouble Dog immediately became one of my all time favourite sci-fi characters as soon as I read Embers of War, I’m a big fan of the eccentric ships of Iain M Banks and so was delighted to find Powell running with a similar trope, which if anything (and I know this is huge praise) might just be an upgrade!?
Q6/20: What was the last science fiction book you read?
The last science fiction book I read was Refraction by Terry Geo. He’s created a book where you can dream literally anything into existence. Refraction has a lot of fun using high tech to allow people to experience impossible treats such as seeing Prince, Kurt Cobain, Freddie Mercury all perform on a lineup – from beyond the grave. Other ‘what ifs’ such as having Babs Windsor and Kenneth Williams do a background guide to the Carry On films, offering characters chance to fly a dragon over Westeros or follow the Yellow Brick Road with Dorothy and pals… These pop culture Easter eggs are grin-inducing and wide-ranging – there are so many yet they don’t detract from the main action, it’s all very LGBTQ+ positive as well which is great to see in sci-fi. Geo has woven a rich geek tapestry of sci-fi and fantasy that I’d happily recommend.
Q17/20: Which is the best Star franchise- Trek, Wars, or Gate?
I’m Star Wars all the way (and this is despite the ‘quality may vary’ prequels and series etc). Whilst I enjoy all three of these, A New Hope was the first film I saw in the cinema – it was 1977 and it changed my young life. It’s true I called my firstborn son Luke, but alas my wife wouldn’t let me give him Skywalker as a middle name… The sheer joy of seeing sword fights upgraded to lightsabers, dogfights of spaceships and iconic characters such as Han Solo, Lord Vader and more. My wish is that we’ll one day get a fully dark Star Wars where a reborn Sith win the day and establish their dark dominion over the universe – if the makers are looking for an author willing to ‘go there I’d be happy to chat! 🙂
Where is the best place for people to get updates on you and your work?
I love social media so finding me as @cleric20 on twitter, Facebook and Instagram is a good way to see what’s coming next. I have a fairly rubbish website completedarknessnovel.com which I need to give more love and for my reviews and stuff I have blog which is darkmatt.blogspot.com
I would like to thank Matt once again for coming on the blog to give this interview. His novel Complete Darkness is available for purchase now, and I hope you’ll check both it and the comic book adaptation out.