Today I'm talking with Christian Porter about his thriller, Shadow Precinct.
A: Shadow Precinct is the story of Everett Santeaux, a man who has been trained since a child to become a master in hand to hand combat techniques and applied technology called a zealot. His goal as such is to help in the recollection of firearms, which have been heavily restricted in this alternate reality United States. A mob boss is found murdered and he is asked to help investigate. In doing so, a whole bunch of stuff unfolds that push the story forward and hopefully keep the reader guessing.
2) How did you come with the idea of the zealots? Even though by the time your story starts your protagonist is an adult, were you influenced at all by the use of child soldiers in certain parts of the world?
A: That is a really good question. The idea for zealots came from just thinking about life in this type of world and how the hierarchy would shift in terms of the police force, or any organization tasked with protecting citizens for that matter. I knew that I wanted to inject martial arts into the action and story, and I wanted to incorporate that into a system that could seemingly naturally blossom from the events in Shadow Precinct’s story. I started to think, when police need that extra level of force or expertise, they call in the SWAT team, but what if that wasn’t enough? That’s where I kind of started to formulate where zealots would fit into that equation. I wanted an awesome, high tech, ninja SWAT team.
As far as the influence of child soldiers from around the world, I am happy you touched on that because, yes, that definitely helped me formulate ideas about the zealot system. I’m not going to front and say I did exhaustive research about the topic, but I am aware of places like Sierra Leone and Liberia where child soldiers were exploited and the stories are awful. You read or hear some of the first-hand accounts and it’s unbelievable that a child came through that. Conversely, it’s despicable that any human would put a child through that. I wanted to take some of those aspects that are uncomfortable and inject them into the story. The training that zealots are put through in the story is pretty intense, pretty brutal. I want the reader to feel somewhat uncomfortable about what they’re witnessing in hopes that it reflects the desperation of the situation to implement such a program in the first place.
3) Why did you choose to set your story in a dystopian New York City?
A: I wanted to set it in this alternate version of New York City for a couple of reasons. One, New York is one of the most iconic cities in the world, and probably the most instantly recognized American city, I’d think. Visually, it was just very intriguing for me to imagine that city mutating under the context of this alternate reality that I was trying to create. The second reason, and really the main reason, is because of the hip hop influence. The genre was born in New York and the main story takes place in the year 1997, which is during one of the golden eras of hip hop to me. There is a consistent hip hop heartbeat throughout the story whether it be lines that reference different albums, or excerpts from songs from that particular time period. I wanted my love for the music to shine through in a subtle way and give other fans of the genre some cool Easter eggs. I think every song that I reference in the book, a true hip hop fan will give me a slow nod of approval, at least that’s my hope. I was careful in selecting the songs that I reference because I wanted them to play into the story in different ways. I hope that is something else that people will catch on to as they’re reading it.
4) Well, the premise of this book promises both a lot of tense mystery and action. What kind of actions scenes can readers look forward to?
A: I think people should expect some intriguing detective mysteries connected with entertaining fight scenes throughout. I want people to get the feel of watching a intricately choreographed fight scene from a classic movie with a high tech spin on it. I tried to break up the seriousness a bit with some humor interspersed throughout as well.
5) Most novels don't have concept art, but yours does. Can you tell us a bit about your creative process in developing this book?
A: Well, after I graduated from college I got a job in the video game industry as a programmer. Doing that, I just saw the use of concept art pretty much through every phase of our design process. I always had a respect for artists because I can’t draw to save my life. I’m also a very visual person, so I wanted to go beyond my words and add a little bit more to jumpstart the reader’s imagination. I’m fortunate that Luther Berry, the artist that did the cover and the interior art, is a very talented. We were able to get a good vibe going and he was able to see my vision. It was very cool to see my ideas realized in that way. My love for comics and manga played a part in that as well.
6) Do you plan any sequels?
A: Yeah, for sure. My original outline was for a trilogy. I know that’s the cool thing to do now, unnecessarily stretch your material to fit into that context, but I want to reassure people that this was the original plan! I’m working on the follow up now and it’s going really well.
7) Do you have any other unrelated stories in the works?
A: I do have some ideas for some other things, but the main focus is Shadow Precinct right now and making sure that’s in a solid place. I just want to make sure each part of the Shadow Precinct saga is better than the last.
8) Are there any authors who have inspired or influenced you?
A: Yeah, definitely. The first one I always say is Phillip K. Dick. Between Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Ubiq, those two stories just inspired me so much to write science fiction. The Blade Runner film that was based on Electric Sheep gave me a lot of visual inspiration as well. Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5 was another one that inspired me with his unorthodox storytelling and use of humor in dire situations. Junot Diaz’ The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao is another one of my favorites. I just really love the way that book is written and it helped me build confidence in letting myself show through my writing. The Watchmen graphic novel is essential for me. George R. R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire), Hiroshi Sakurazaka (All You Need Is Kill), and Masashi Kishimoto (Naruto manga), are all authors I highly respect and their works are definitely inspirational to me as well.
You can find more about Christian and Shadow Precinct at http://www.shadowprecinct.com/ and at the publisher (http://www.azizapublishing.com/).