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Interview with David J. Rodger, author and game designer

I caught up with David J. Rodger, a British author and game designer best known for his Mythos-themed novels set in a near-future world of corporate and political intrigue. David shared an update on his four (!) new novels, the release of an upcoming short story, and his public appearance plans.

Book covers and pictures of David J. Rodger.
David J. Rodger

Michael Tresca (MT): What have you been up to lately?

David J. Rodger (DJR): Quite a bit. Last year saw me complete "The Social Club" with a launch party organised by Bristol's Fantasy and Science Fiction Society. I went on to rattle off 14 new short stories in 6 weeks, a good start on a new collection I want to put together - most of these have a very overt Cthulhu Mythos feel. Right now I'm working on four new novels and just completed a piece of original short fiction commissioned by the folks at Achtung! Cthulhu for their Dark Tales anthology due for commercial release in December. I'm actually doing a public appearance tonight in Bristol, reading it out - it's called Shadow of the Black Sun and is a World War II tale of Mythos terror. Interestingly, I was up against a deadline to produce it so ended up using an experience I had in the arctic last year as inspiration: a WWII bunker on the edge of the town of Svolvaer, hanging off the edge of the Lofoten Islands. Very atmospheric, perfect setting for some Lovecraftian horror.

The four novels are Oakfield, Broken Fury, Sunder Gloom and Rise of the Iconoclast. The first three are all set before Yellow Dawn (an apocalyptic event that separates the universe of my books into two halves), whilst ROTI is set after Yellow Dawn, and actually contains characters who made a brief appearance in The Social Club. That's something I enjoy building into my books; although each story is stand alone and separate, they all occupy a common universe and main characters (and corporations) that appear in one book can appear in other books as incidental players.

MT: What's changed in the Yellow Dawn universe?

DJR: More interest. More focus. I've been approached by a publisher who wants to get involved in PR and distribution of the game; and maybe looking to produce a heavily edited 3rd Edition with artwork and all that jazz. The Yellow Dawn RPG is very much a rough-cut diamond that I dug out with my own hands; I like that about that game and so do the people who appreciate the hard work I had to go through to make YD happen. But I think it would be interesting to see what could happen with a bit of corporate polish. We'll see.

As for the Yellow Dawn universe; there have been two new YD novels since we last spoke. Dog Eat Dog has been joined by The Black Lake (which received a really great review by The Guardian) and The Social Club. All three novels have really helped me lock down and define what the YD universe looks and feels like, from the gloss and grit of Living Cities through to the rough and tumble - and brutal - lifestyle of the new wilderness. The Cthulhu Mythos is now more firmly entrenched, radiating a corruptive influence. And corporations continue to try to carve up and dominate the landscape- and each other. Whilst new religions, cults and politics bubble up in the melting pot of isolated survivor settlements.

MT: What's Slow Burn all about?

DJR: Trying not to burn out. I still hold down a full-time job, a very rewarding but very high-pressure and stressful career in a digital media company. The last few years I've been going all-guns blazing. Waking up at 4 A.M. to write, going to work, writing at lunchtime, writing every night and every weekend. Using polyphasic sleep to maximise my output. But ultimately, I've suffered lack of contact with friends and I barely see my girlfriend. Last year I tried to find balance by taking one month out after each month of intensive writing, but that was cumbersome and still left me close to exhaustion during the writing months. This year I've finally found balance. I commit to writing 45 minutes every day. And that is all. That's new novel number one, Oakfield. It gets me for 45 minutes a day, every day. If I feel so inclined, I'll maybe spend 30 minutes during my lunch break or evening working on novel number 2, Broken Fury. But I don't beat myself up if I don't. Typically I work on Broken Fury every other day. Once a week I touch novel number 3, Sunder Gloom for 45 minutes. And once a month I touch novel number 4, Rise of the Iconoclast. It means I realistically do less than one hour of writing a day but occasionally do 3 or 4. And this means I now have much more time to socialise, see my friends, see my lady and re-join the human race.

MT: That butterfly on the cover makes me think about monarchs, and monarchs make me think of kings. Any connection to the King in Yellow? Any connections to the Mythos in general?

DJR: You're the first person to publically note that connection to the Monarch butterfly! Yes, The Social Club does have a link to the Mythos but only in so much as the story takes place within the Yellow Dawn half of my universe - in the wake of the apocalyptic event. The Social Club itself is more of an Orwellian Detective story. Senior Verifier Jadon Purgo looking for the truth about a naked body he finds washed up on the banks of the River Thames and finding that the attempts to stop him come from the very heart of London's new government - with chilling consequences. The backdrop to The Social Club and the defining aspect of Yellow Dawn itself is the horrible Infection that was unleased upon the world, and remains as a terrible threat to life - and sanity.

MT: It seems there's something of a Lovecraftian renaissance and you're well-positioned to take advantage of it. What changed in popular culture?

DJR: Thank you! I have noticed a growth in new traffic to my online portals, specifically through search terms based on the Cthulhu Mythos. It's very rewarding to be recognised as a voice within a genre I am passionate about. As for what is bringing about the renaissance in H.P.Lovecraft's work... Alan Moore would state it was merely part of the foreshadowing of the approaching time when the horror of the Cthulhu Mythos rains down upon Earth and humankind. That's a frightening idea, isn't it.

As for popular culture. I think people are finally growing bored with the standard Hollywood definition of horror: ghosts, demons, vampires, werewolves, Frankenstein's monster. People are inclined to seek new experiences and the Internet gives them access to those barbed hooks of knowledge in things they should not (but can't help themselves) peer into. Welcome the phantasmagorical menace of the Mythos. I always get a tingle of excitement when I see the Cthulhu Mythos mentioned in the mainstream media. There was a Radio 4 documentary about the work of H.P.Lovecraft last year. And now Hidetaka Miyazaki, creator of Dark Souls has turned to Cthulhu mythology with Bloodborne - a game for Sony Playstation. Sadly, there is a dangerous twist to this increased awareness of the Mythos. The madness that it brings. Slenderman is a prime example of a Mythos meme. Something created based on dream-like visions and distilled nightmare. Now people are recreating it, which in turn exposes more minds to it, and so it spreads, like some sanity-shredding aspect of The Yellow Sign (Hastur) or a runic invocation of the Lloigor. Two separate recent stabbing incidents, Wisconsin and Ohio, have been attributed to exposure to the Slenderman meme. Go back to 1994 and the John Carpenter movie "In The Mouth of Madness" and you get a vivid account of where this meme could go in the full furor of the Cthulhu Mythos. What does the future hold for the Cthulhu Mythos? Over-saturation? Will we become bored with the Mythos? I don't think so. The Mythos has the power to evolve. Read the signs: New horror ahead.

MT: What other books have you published?

DJR: Eight novels in all. Here's link to a spotlight on each one, giving a flavour of what they're about and a variety of purchase options in paperback and Kindle.

BEFORE YELLOW DAWN

AFTER YELLOW DAWN

MT: Where can fans buy your books?

DJR: I focus on LULU and Amazon for paperback, and Kindle for eBooks. The links above contain purchase options for all of these.

MT: Will you be at any cons this year?

DJR: I'll be at BristolCon in October.

MT: Where can fans find you online?

DJR:

MT: Anything else you'd like to add?

DJR: Planning to have Oakfield finished and ready to launch before the end of this year. If you're a fan of the Mi-Go (Fungi from Yuggoth) and like the idea of them terrorising a remote town on the coast of Cornwall, keep your pincers flexed and ready to grab. Thanks for keeping in touch.