INTERVIEW WITH MAY PESH – UGANDAN BLOGGER – JUNE 2017
MAY – Hi Lance, I can see you’ve been busy.
LANCE – Yeah, you could say that. Time waits for no man.
MAY – So I see you have now turned your hand to writing a novel?
LANCE – Yes, I just finished the first one. It will be a little bit of time before its ready for publication though.
MAY – The first? Will there be more?
LANCE – Yes, it’s a series there’s going to be at least six I think.
MAY – Wow six? That sounds like quite a bit of work.
LANCE – It’s an epic story, so it’s impossible to tell in one or even three books.
MAY – So it’s I know it’s called ‘Diamonds in the Sky’ what’s it about?
LANCE – Okay, so it’s set just a few short years from now. The world is riven by conflicts and terrorism in Europe is almost a monthly occurrence. The mood of the population is extremely low and people are ready for a change when a global event occurs – Two hundred alien ships arrive all over the world, each of them twenty miles across. They’re shaped a little huge spinning tops and the lower part of each ship drills down into the landing site while the upper part sits above the ground. It is about how this event impacts our society and humanity as a whole.
MAY – So it’s kind of like the movie Independence Day?
LANCE – God, I love that movie, but no. This is actually nothing like that. When the ships come in that movie, it is an invasion and they attack. In my book the ships arrive but there is no attack, no invasion of any kind. So the Governments and indeed the population of the world are left trying to solve where they have come from and what their purpose is? What is the reason they’re here? The other thing that is different is that with these kinds of stories the characters often tend to be from a scientific or military background and at the forefront of the dilemma, in my book the central characters are for the most part people with ordinary lives. One becomes more directly involved in the crisis because of his job but most are not the decision makers of the world but people trying to go about their daily lives.
MAY – Tell us about the central characters.
LANCE – Well in the first book there are seven. So it’s what you would call a multi-point story. Similar to the way the Game of Thrones books are written. Each chapter in those books is from a different characters perspective. I decided very early on I was going to write the book this way, but divide each chapter into three different perspectives and always have twelve chapters in each book. Sorry what was the question again?
MAY – Sorry, I was asking you to tell us more about the actual characters in the story.
LANCE – Ah yes, sorry. So that is how the book is divided up. So the first character we meet is Diana Morrow, a single mother with two kids, recently divorced who has pretty much lost everything. She has come out of an abusive marriage and is driving with the last of her possessions and her children across highway 50, which by the way is called ‘The loneliest road in America’. Her car breaks down and she is stuck when she witnesses one of the ships emerge in the sky and begin landing right in front of her.
MAY – So you started with a female character?
LANCE – I think it’s pretty important to have strong female characters in any story, even those set in historical times before we had the equality we have now. I’ve actually tried to make the characters in my book as culturally diverse as possible.
MAY – You told before there is an African storyline, perhaps you could tell us something about that?
LANCE – Yes, well actually several of the ships land in bodies of water, including oceans and large lakes and originally I was going to have a storyline set in Uganda and in fact one of the ships does land in Lake Victoria but in the end I wanted somewhere more remote and opted for the deserts of Chad.
MAY – So who are the African characters and what is their story?
LANCE – So Omari and Joy Fakim are Father and youngest daughter respectively and both are from a town called Fada which if you look it up you will see its one of the most remote towns on earth. It is literally in the middle of the desert with a small oasis. Omari is a trader and used to run caravans between the more remote towns in the region. Trading herbs and spices from the bigger cities in the south. He is from the Toubou people and I wanted to write about someone whose life was as far removed from my own as possible. Omari is on his final journey home because he knows his way of life is coming to an end. Modern times have reduced caravan trading to a fraction of what it was. He is also a widower and he misses his wife who has died of cancer some years before our story begins. The only thing he lives for is to see his youngest daughter happy, Joy, who still lives in Fada. He has a second older daughter who moved to the capital when she married a Colonel in the Chad army.
MAY – How does Omari fit into the alien ships arriving?
LANCE – On the final leg of his journey home he watches one of the vessels landing just a few miles from where he is resting and decides to investigate. He is actually the first character in the book to reach one of the ships. His daughter becomes a leading character in the second part of the first book. (Chapters 6 to 12)
MAY – Who are the other four main characters?
LANCE – There is Candice, a Transsexual from Brazil who is the girlfriend of another character. Then we have Blessing, an immigrant from Nigeria living in the United Kingdom who has recently be rehoused to Aberdeen in Scotland. She feels very isolated and has no friends there and is incredibly lonely.
MAY – Her character sounds quite sad?
LANCE – Her life actually is very tragic but the arrival of the ships offer her the chance for some adventure and she takes it. She actually is the first character to have some romance in the book but it’s not with someone she would have expected or even looked at twice normally.
MAY – That leaves two I believe?
LANCE – Right, yes. Who else is there? Oh yeah, so then we have Tariq. He is effectively a modern terrorist, so you get a perspective on his motivations and why he does what he does and can judge for yourself if you think his actions in his own mind are justified. I think I should add here that I am not in any way trying to justify a terrorist actions here. I find what they do abhorrent and ultimately pointless but ultimately the only person a terrorist has to justify their actions to, is themselves. Tariq is an extremely dangerous man, trained by the French military and brought up in the immigrant slums of Northern Paris. His cell pull off the most successful high profile terror attack since 9/11 which has far reaching consequences for the world, especially The United Kingdom. This of course unintentionally coincides with the arrival of the alien ships, one of which lands in Northern France.
MAY – Was that character a deliberate choice with everything that has happened in the UK recently?
LANCE – Actually his character was more because of the terror attacks in France. I actually started writing the book in the summer of 2016, so the character of Tariq was more in response to the attacks that occurred in France and Belgium in 2015, especially those in Paris of November 13th and 14th. I wanted the character to reflect the times that we live in. Tariq’s story arc does however go in a direction that you don’t expect.
MAY – Who is the seventh character?
LANCE – Ah yes, Ryan Wallace. You know what they say – leave the best until last. Ryan is a politician from the Conservative party, he isn’t based on any one person from real life but imbues everything about modern politics that I hate. He is a hypocrite, self-entitled, selfish and cares very little about anyone but himself. At least that is how he is when we first meet him. He has a drug addiction and really doesn’t care about his job or politics but suddenly finds himself thrust into a role he really doesn’t want and is slowly forced to re-evaluate himself and his direction in life. He is really the character that you will love to hate. He is also the most fun to write and has some very interesting supporting characters around him.
MAY – So what happens in the first book? Can you give us a concise overview?
LANCE – The concise overview would be that the book covers the lives of the characters I have just described over a period of seventy two hours, basically the first three days of the ships arriving. Some of the characters’ lives are directly impacted by their arrival, while others are drawn to their presence. Some of them ultimately just wanted to make sure the people they love are okay and survive the changes that begin to happen in the world.
MAY – How does the arrival of the ships impact on the Human Race exactly? I believe you said there were no aliens that come out of them and people can’t get inside them either?
LANCE – That’s right. Some people actually do find a way inside, there is a reason for this which I can’t explain without giving too much away. The world’s governments and military are completely unsuccessful in gaining entry to the ships and try and secure the landing sights but with so many of them and with the perimeter of the ships being so big they find it impossible to do so for the most part. You do get some insight into what lays inside the vessels towards the end of the first book. Just a hint of what is to come.
MAY – How many books do you think there will be in the whole series to tell the entire story?
LANCE – That is a good question. I think at least six. The first book only covers the first three days. The second book covers the first three months after the ships arrival. There is a much larger focus in America with two new characters being introduced, both American, there is also one new character in America. The entire story takes place over a period of about five years. I think I forgot to mention that in addition to the characters perspectives in the story, at the beginning of each chapter there is a small excerpt from another perspective. Sometimes it’s a diary entry from someone or a document but there’s also reports from the media from around the world. These little clips add to the global perspective, giving the reader a great insight into what else is happening worldwide and how the ships presence are impacting different parts of our society and culture. In the overall story arc, without again wanting to give too much away, mankind becomes very much divided between those who want to destroy the ships and remove them from the earth and those who want to save them.
MAY – Can we expect to see a storyline involving Uganda or any other parts of Africa?
LANCE – I have the overall story arc mapped out for the series and the key events which occur but not all of the characters of where they’re from yet. I think in each book there will always be a slight shift of focus to a new part of the world. In the second book the city of Atlanta and its Governor has a major storyline and later on in the story there is another strand of the plot which takes place in Australia.
MAY – Lastly what inspired you to write this story?
LANCE – I think the way the world is going a topic which truly saddens me to my very core. We have more division, racism and violence than ever before it seems. It may well be the case that these divisions have always been here and that we’re just exposed to them in a more immediate and visceral way than before with Social Media. Worldwide news is very instantaneous nowadays. The divide between the rich and poor has never been greater and the model of capitalism is failing us and I think it’s unstainable. I always thought how interesting it would be to write a book where Humanity was offered an alternative and explore what would happen. I think it’s safe to say the only way the rich can remain so affluent is if the rest of us stay poor, so I wanted to write something that explored those themes in some depth, but I also wanted to write something that was relatable, with humour and not overplay the Science Fiction element too heavily because I wanted this book to be accessible to the widest audience possible. Yup, I don’t think I could have said that any better. That sums it up for sure.
MAY – When and where will people be able to get hold of the first book?
LANCE – Well it’s now going through the final editing and proofing phase, then there’s a fair bit of time to get everything ready after that. I would like to say the first book will be out before the end of 2017 but it might be 2018 at this rate, we shall have to see. The best thing is to follow the facebook page. You can find that at: facebook@diamondsintheskybookserie also just searching for this will bring up the page.
MAY – Lance, thanks very much for your time! I cannot wait for it to come out!
LANCE – Not at all. Me too.