For This Is Hell: Third Time’s the Charm

And now, a word from bestselling, award-winning author Steven Savile about his and Aaron Rosenberg’s newest collaboration, For This Is Hell, currently available for the NOOK:

“I’ve known Aaron a long time. We joke about being separated at birth, and given the date and time we came into the world it’s almost possible—I’m October 12th 1969, he’s October 13th 1969, and given time zones and such, I’m only a few hours older than him, so imagine a long protracted labour and a grueling transatlantic flight in between and you’ve got us. We’ve written loads of stuff together, but surprisingly little has actually hit the streets yet; in fact, For the is Hell is our first collaborative release, but far from our last.

So, three years ago I was on holiday in Carthage with the wife, wandering around, drinking in the history, and as we clambered back onto the tour bus to head towards the hotel I sent a sketchy email to my Transatlantic Twin with the beginnings of an idea that had hit me about writing something with an immortal hero, sort of a “my life of crime” thing where we have a recurring hero/villain across the ages, kicking off during the fall of Carthage and bringing it to the modern day by way of lots of cool historical moments. And wouldn’t it be cool if our hero was like the phoenix who kept renewing himself age after age? Aaron wrote back explaining, surprise surprise (we are very similar sometimes, right down to the ideas we play with, which makes for a good partnership) that he’d created a roleplaying game a few years ago called Chosen which revolved around mythical beasts like the Kraken and Phoenix being reborn in different times to fight an eternal struggle for supremacy. It took all of about ten minutes to think “ahhh hmmm wouldn’t it be cool then if we could merge these two very similar ideas into a story or three?”

I’d intended to actually set the story in Carthage, begin at the beginning and all that, have our hero “infected” by some sort of vampiric entity, but having a mythic beast “wake” was much cooler. We then started chatting about who throughout history did we think would make a cool fiery lead, and the first one we both hit on within about a minute of each other was Kit Marlowe— not least because of his links to Carthage via his play, Dido. Then it was a case of building an outline together, and doing some historical research to get it “right.” After that we set to work crafting the story itself, bringing Marlowe and his world back to life and injecting them with the proper degree of suspense, intrigue, seduction, and black magic.

We sold For This Is Hell as a limited edition hardcover novella to a publisher in the U.S., but they specialised in horror and when we realised this story was primarily historical with a splash of dark fantasy we sat down and talked with them and agreed it didn’t really fit with their list. Then we chatted to another start-up company, PenMonkey over in the UK, and they loved the idea and the story, but, as is the way with the world, folded before they really got going. We weren’t sure where to go next, but we had faith that For This Is Hell was too good not to find a proper home.

Then Crazy 8 came along, with Aaron as one of the founders and his humorous SF novel No Small Bills as their second release. They picked up the young adult horror series Latchkeys we’d created with Bob Greenberger and a bunch of others, so we already had a strong relationship going with Crazy 8, so we talked to them about For This Is Hell—and at long last it rose triumphant from the ashes, aflame, like the phoenix at the heart of the story…”

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