Last month, I read a horror/sci-fi thriller novel named REVIVER from first-time author Seth Patrick. Not knowing much about the story, but intrigued by the blurb, I began the first chapter. With such a brutal, thrilling opener, I was hooked!
After eagerly completing the novel and with questions swimming around in my head, I decided to chat with author Seth Patrick to discuss sequels, film adaptations and future books!
Hi Seth, please can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi! I’m a father of two from Belfast, and for the last thirteen years my day job has been as a programmer on the Total War series of PC games. Reviver is my first novel.
Have you always been interested in writing and what made you decide to write your own novel?
When I was a kid the two things I wanted to do when I grew up were write computer games and write books, and I’m very lucky to have done both. I’ve always written, and always intended to write a novel, but it had just never quite happened. Plenty of false starts, although the truth is that every false start is part of your apprenticeship. It wasn’t until REVIVER that I saw the job through to a completed novel.
How long did it take you to write REVIVER and is the finished copy the novel what you envisioned from the beginning or were any vital plot points changed during the draft?
I wrote the opening chapter in 2004, in a creative writing class run by the crime author Peter James (although at the time he’d been more known for horror). It was a year and a half before I had a complete draft, but it took until 2011 for me to be happy enough with it to approach agents.
That first chapter has hardly changed, but the rest of the book has evolved. The overall arc is the same, but several characters from earlier drafts ended up cut, or merged into others. Probably the biggest character change has been for Never Geary, the best friend of the protagonist Jonah Miller. Right at the outset his role was much more like a benign version of the final book’s military intelligence antagonist, Kendrick.
Also, the book was originally set in the UK, in Croydon. Early readers kept bringing this up as feeling wrong, like having the X Files based in Milton Keynes, and my agent was very keen for me to relocate it to the US. When I finally took the plunge it was a much better fit.
Legendary Pictures have picked up the rights to the film. For a first time author, it must have been an exciting prospect?
God, yes. I mean, I knew it was a very filmic novel but when it actually happened, it was surreal. I’m a movie nut, and I’d spent a few years dabbling in screenwriting precisely because that was the kind of narrative I wanted to write as a novel, but my faith in my ability with prose had taken a hit. Eventually I tried prose again, and with Reviver, I found my stride.
When I got the call to say the movie deal might be about to happen, I asked my agent what the production company was. He told me it was the people behind Batman, and I was suddenly wary. “WHICH Batman?” I asked, as there was no way he could mean Dark Knight. Took me a while to believe it.
When will the film adaptation start production and will you be hands-on during the production or taking a back seat?
It takes time – getting a screenplay and a financing package together, for a start – so I’d guess it’d be two years at least before it went into production, going by other adaptations. I’m happy with that, as all three books in the trilogy will have been published by then.
Given my interest in moviemaking, I’m keen to have as much involvement as they’ll let me. I’m not hands-on currently, but they keep me up to date with things.
You’ve mentioned that Reviver is part of a trilogy and you’re currently writing the second. Will the second book continue the story of the first and will the character of Jonah Miller feature?
It’s a direct continuation, but each book will have a very different feel. The first book introduced the world and had a gradual reveal of the evil facing the characters, but in book two we’ve got all that set up and can jump right in. It kicks off with the main characters coming to terms with what they’ve been through.
One of the things I loved about Reviver was the time you took to develop the characters and that you included many revival episodes within the book. Is building a set of characters, complete with their own lives, experiences and back story important to you as both an author and reader?
Absolutely, but it’s a hard thing to do. It’s tricky to get the balance between enriching your characters and sapping the pace. One of the hardest things for a writer is trying to guess what your work feels like to a reader coming to it for the first time – even harder, really, since it’s not just one reader, it’s all of them, each with very different preferences. You have to accept that you can’t please everyone, and that trying to is a sure-fire way to please nobody.
I particularly enjoyed the Lovecraftian tone the story incorporated. Are you a fan of H.P Lovecraft and could things get much more supernatural in the future books?
I was a huge fan when I was younger. I re-read some while writing Reviver and was pleased to find I still enjoyed it; revisiting that kind of thing can be disheartening if you find yourself wondering what the hell you saw in it.
The whole atmosphere of unlimited wrongness that you find there is amazing: vast, cold, brutal forces that we can’t fully comprehend, and are utterly powerless against.
It’s interesting, I think, that Lovecraft is all about aliens, yet the feel is entirely demonic. Really, the whole concept of hostile alien life is exactly what The Old Ones are, but modern alien mythology has become rather bland and diminished, even a little ludicrous, and made safe as a result. Fair enough, I guess – in its raw state, the notion of utterly hostile aliens is terrifying.
There’s still a nightmarish element that some things manage to hook into, though. For example, Alien is one of my favourite movies, and it was originally conceived as Lovecraftian. The writer Dan O’Bannon described the Alien as a blood-relative of Yog-Sothoth, and HR Giger was brought on because of his Necronomicon.
Is the horror thriller genre a favourite of yours and will you continue to write novels, other than the Reviver series, in that particular genre?
Much as I love horror, I won’t restrict myself entirely to it. Reviver is itself a mash-up of science fiction, horror, crime, and the supernatural. I think I’ll always be a thriller writer, though. Things just happen that way. If I tried my hand at a romantic comedy, by page ten the guy would probably be dead and the woman running for her life.
Have you personally had any experience with mediums?
Some aspects of Reviver are a reaction to the credulity people give to claims by psychics and mediums, in the total absence of evidence, even though the claims are so extraordinary. It always struck me as astonishing that believers would suggest ‘science’ is just being bloody-minded about the whole thing to dismiss it, when frankly the opposite is the case – if there really was any evidence at all, the science community would be falling over themselves to investigate. That’s what happens in the book – Daniel Harker, the journalist who first reports the phenomenon, has uncovered fraudulent and unscrupulous mediums in the past, and then chances on something undeniably genuine.
I’d not met any mediums when I started the book, and had assumed they were all charlatans. When I finally met some, I changed my opinion. While I’m certainly not a believer in what mediums claim to do, those I’ve met are honest people. I’d suggest they were deluding themselves and others, but not for malice or profit. The charlatans are certainly around, though. They’re easy to spot: just arrange the profession in order of income.
What is your favourite book?
Axiomatic, a dizzying book of superb short stories by Greg Egan.
What’s your favourite book-to-film adaptation?
My favourite movies include Carpenter’s The Thing (based on – and very faithful to – the John W Campbell novella Who Goes There?) and Muppet Christmas Carol, so I’ll plump for them both.
What can we expect to see next from Seth Patrick?
Reviver’s due out in paperback in the new year. Book two, Acolyte, will be published in the summer, with the final Reviver book out the following year.
I’ve also just signed on to write the novelisation of the French TV series The Returned, which will be published to coincide with the broadcast of the second season next Autumn.
As for what comes after that, I’m writing a clutch of short stories in whatever spare time I have, to see what appeals most as the Reviver followup.
Many thanks to Seth Patrick for taking the time out for this interview.
You can follow Seth’s work via his blog and on Twitter @SethPatrickUK
REVIVER is available from all good book shops and online including Amazon.
Check out the HCF review of Reviver.