"The modern master of the gamebook format" (Rob Sanders)... "Can do dark very well" (Jonathan Oliver)... "Green gets mileage out of his monsters" (SFX Magazine)... "It takes a firm editorial hand and a keen understanding of the tone of each piece to make a collection this diverse work, and Green makes it look effortless" (Starburst Magazine)
YOU ARE THE HERO Part 2 is now funding on Kickstarter
Rob Spalding is a short fiction writer with an eye for the pulp homage. In fact, his story is the one in SHARKPUNK that probably celebrates the original Sharkpunk movie JAWS most directly. Here's what he had to say about the experience of writing the piece...
Sharkpunk: What, do you think, is the reason for people's enduring
fascination with sharks?
Robert Spalding: I think it's the silence of them that continually terrifies
people. If you think about all the other monsters and fearsome
creatures we are scared of, they roar and hiss and yowl. Sharks don't do any of that.
They just appear and start eating you without a kindly forewarning sound. Couple that with the fact that they patrol an area that is
physically off limits to humans, in that we cannot survive where they live
without specialist equipment, and you've got a creature that it would take an
awful lot of effort to encounter in the wild. They are mysterious and I think that's what keeps them alive
in our minds.
SP: What was the inspiration behind your story Rise of the Übershark?
RS: To anyone who reads it, the most obvious inspiration for this
story will be anime. Specifically Mecha
anime. I've always enjoyed seeing big
robots smash the hell out of each other and all of their fancy weaponry. What I first pitched to Jon when he told me about the
anthology my suggestions (Sharks in Spaaaaaace!) were met with “Someone's
already doing that.” So I thought about the type of stories I wanted to
tell. Post-Apocalyptic Waste World is my
favourite phrase in the English language.
I love the sound of it (the phrase, not the reality). So it had to be a post-apocalyptic shark story.
Where do I go from there? Well, very quickly I had my world and the weaponry and the
big idea behind it all. The one thing I didn't actually have was a story to tell. I actually started this story four times in different ways
with different characters because I couldn't find an “in” that was going to be
just a short story. Finally I landed on the “last survivor of an elite squad
discovers a terrible revelation.” And then I had it. The hero of the story in all its variations was always a
woman because I hadn't tried to write a story with one before.
SP: What challenges, or surprises, did you encounter in
writing your story?
RS: Finding a story that I could tell in the word limit. I completely fell for the world I created for this
story. Then I created a character that I
thought would be unique or at least less obvious than the norm for the type of
Mecha-Monster-Military mash up I was planning. But then I realised they needed a novel length story to fit
in everything I wanted to say about them. As such I had to set them aside and start again, new
protagonist, new conflict for the story.
New everything except the world.
I have to say I have never had more trouble getting
something started that I was excited about than I have with this story. I was constantly having to revise my central ideas until I
ground it down enough to fill just the one story. Even then I opened up a whole new level to the world with
the ending. I think I might have found a place I want to spend my
writing time in future – which isn't something I ever expected when I started
to think about a submission to this anthology.
SP: If you had to pick a favourite shark, which would it be?
RS: I think I'd have to say Hammerhead. I know the Great Whites are the Daddy of shark fiction, but
just look at a Hammerhead. The
description of them is right in the name! They have such a distinctive look.
SP: Do you have a favourite fictional shark (in books, comics,
films, or video games)?
RS: I've got a soft spot for the smart sharks in Deep Blue Sea,
especially for their sense of dramatic timing in saying Samuel L Jackson's part
has served its purpose. But my favourite shark in all of fiction is Sharky, from
Sharky and George. He was one half of a crime-busting aquatic duo and they had
the best theme tune. I'll be honest and say I haven't watched an episode in years
because I'm worried it will taint my memory of the show. But yeah, Sharky.
SP: Apart from SHARKPUNK, what's coming next from Robert Spalding?
RS: I am currently writing a quirky novel called Lost on the Traveller's Road.
Its based on several ideas I've had over the years all being amalgamated into one crazy road trip story. I've only just started it but I like where its heading so far.
Then I plan to try my hand at some serial fiction. I've got a few worlds to work in and one of them will be the world Rise of the Ubershark is set in.
I'm planning them out like an anime series (the influence strikes again!) and hope to be releasing them for free on the web with collected editions sold as ebooks with added extras when they are done.
At the moment this will probably end up being a self-published idea, but if I can find a publisher then I'm going to go for it.
Robert Spalding lives in Sussex, quite near the seaside but
he never goes for a paddle. He had stories published by Whispers of Wickedness
near the turn of the Millennium but then went radio silent for a few years due
to what he describes as “Purely mundane reasons.” His recently had Men with False Faces published in Terror
Tales of the Seaside. Rise of the Übershark marks the beginning of what he hopes will be a
series all set in the same world. He occasionally blogs and posts short fiction at
robspalding.wordpress.com and Tweets at @robspalding.