Alan Frost is the author of six sci-fi books with Olympia Publishers, beginning with Beware the Brakendeth and most recently continuing with Beware the Past. Our hero is Admiral Mustard, the villains have been great Gods, galactic fleets, and hidden foes, with adventures across interstellar space and battles of epic proportions.

 

We speak now with the author in celebration of Olympia’s Sci-Fi week, about a genre which makes us all look up and ponder the impossible.

 

 

When did you first fall in love with science fiction? Was it a book, movie or just simply looking up at the night sky and letting your imagination wander?

 

I’ve always found it strange that relatively minor events can change your life. Two of these events made me fall passionately in love with science fiction and fantasy.

As a child, I was seriously ill and bedbound for weeks at a time. My father would bring books from the local library for me to read. I became a serious fan of the Biggles series, the children’s books written by Captain W. E. Johns. Almost by error, my father delivered a Sci-fi book written by Johns called Now to the Stars. It wasn’t a masterpiece, but I was hooked and soon started devouring Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein.

The second event happened during a visit to the dentist. They had a DC Superman comic in the reception area. I was entranced, and now I have over sixty thousand comics!

 

 

Six books deep into the epic story of Admiral Mustard, have you had difficulties when continuing the narrative?

 

I soon discovered that writing a series was much more challenging than writing a standalone novel. Firstly, you can keep the book you are writing in your head, but that’s not possible with six books. I keep detailed spreadsheets on each character and most of the significant events. Even then, you find yourself asking awkward questions – is that character married? Is that character still alive? It becomes even more complex when you introduce time travel and alternative universes.

Secondly, the characters have to develop. With each book, you release more information about them, their aspirations, and their personal lives. I rather enjoy exploring the characteristics that make them different, especially if their interests are rather offbeat, such as collecting mushrooms, cooking early Viking dishes, or watching Crossroads.

As a matter of interest, I’ve had conversations with Admiral Mustard in my dreams. He appears to be more than happy with his book persona, although slightly critical of his obsession with uniforms.

 

 

How have you maintained Admiral Mustard’s persona across the series, whilst making each new entry fresh and exciting?

 

In each book Admiral Mustard discovers something new about himself that is usually rather shocking. He is not your everyday human.

I’ve added excitement by creating problems that he has to solve. He is a disciplined military man interested in planning, organization, and logistics. He is a team player who likes to analyse and solve problems as a team. I find that a lot of Sci-fi, especially films, are stupid. My characters plan and organise to win, and if they fail, they analyse why, rectify it, and carry on.

 

 

For the uninitiated, how would you describe the Beware the… series? If you were encouraging readers to jump in to book one (Beware the Brakendeth, available on Olympia’s website), what would you highlight as the biggest draws?

 

Beware the Brakendeth is classic military science fiction, where the odds are seriously against the underdog. From the first few chapters, Earth’s chances of survival seem minimal. We have never encountered aliens before, and we have no space force. Somehow, we survive; otherwise, there wouldn’t be a second book.

I’m always interested in the story. I want the reader to want to know what happens next. I want them to guess the ending, but with my first Mustard book, I don’t think they can. Prove me wrong.

 

 

With an endless array of authors and artists inspiring generations of sci-fi fanatics, what inspires you in your writing? Can you pinpoint any specific influences for characters or events in your books?

 

I still look back to Dune and the Foundation series as the masterpieces that influenced me the most. I have over 8,000 Sci-fi and fantasy books in my library, and I’ve probably read half of them. Almost every book and every author has helped scratch my imagination. Anne McCaffrey has given me a love of dragons. I’ve just written a book where aliens land in Horsell Common – HG Wells. Lovecraft used to terrify me, and I believe that the Culture exists.

I’m a part-time guide in Great Malvern, where Tolkien and CS Lewis used to walk the hills. I tell their story.

 

 

Do you have any plans for further books in the Beware the… series? Do you see yourself leaving the galaxy behind and exploring new realms of space in a new sci-fi story?

 

I have written two more Admiral Mustard books which haven’t been published yet:  Beware The Ergs and Beware The Big Bang. Recently I’ve been writing more fantasy, including The Battles of Malvern, The Struggles of Malvern and Blind to the Consequences - which are all available from Olympia.

 

 

Thank you to Alan for helping us celebrate science-fiction this week! You can get all our science-fiction titles at an incredible 50% discount, from Olympia’s website.

 

You can browse Alan Frost’s entire bibliography here.