Seeds of Destruction, the second volume of the Damocles Files series was published last month. It’s another collaboration with my good friend Benedict J Jones and once more features the exploits of DAMOCLES, an organisation housed in the Ministry of Information in London’s Senate House whose mission is to fight a shadow war against the occult machinations of the Axis forces.
Volume One centred around the efforts of the Sons of Fenrir
to bring about Ragnarok, the Norse end of days but this storyline features a
different kind of threat entirely – albeit one with potential world-ending
implications. In keeping with the format established in Volume One, the novel
covers the entire period of World War Two and is made up of discrete short
stories and novellas linked by an overarching narrative. (Unlike Volume One, we
actually knew what the overarching story was – which made writing the stories
that little bit easier…) As before, the stories were mainly divvied up between us
but on a couple of occasions the stories were properly co-written.
Whereas Volume One revolved around the war in Europe, this
second book expands the Damoclean universe into the Pacific theatre. This allowed
us to introduce Damocles’ American counterparts, Office 49, a division of the
proto-CIA OSS. It also allowed us to set the stories in a variety of exotic
locations, a hugely enjoyable part of the writing process for me personally and
these include China, Japan and the Philippines.
Although Damocles is a fictional organisation (or is it..?),
its exploits are set among real events and great care was taken to ensure the
authenticity of the world we were creating. Actual events which are referenced
in the book are the Bataan Death march and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
Real people turn up too, (as was the case in Volume One), including engineer
turned resistance fighter Wendell Fertig and his friend, Australian guerrilla fighter
It was areal joy to
revisit the world of Damocles and, because of the way the books are structured,
to revisit too the characters we had created some of whom didn’t make it to the
end of the first book. Taking centre stage this time is Edgar Case, who had a
cameo appearance in Volume One. Edgar’s training in natural sciences makes him
the cornerstone of the investigation this time around and his exploits allowed
me release my inner nerd both in terms of his scientific knowledge but also his
love of cryptic crosswords. I had great fun creating the cryptic clues which
are dotted throughout the book (all of which have deeply significant answers of
course), so much fun that I had a go at compiling a whole Damocles themed
crossword which you can have a go at here. Edgar is probably the closest
character to myself although his receding hairline, grumpiness and antisocial outlook
on life are of course nothing like me at all.
As well as the crossword clues, I also had a bash at writing
some poetry for the book – specifically Japanese death poetry – but that should
certainly not put you off buying the book. Getting the chance to do stuff like
this, along with the (almost) free rein to choose exotic locations in which to
set the stories, is one of the many joys of writing in the Damocles universe
and I’d like to think that the enthusiasm we both have for the project comes across
on the page.
Another huge joy is seeing what our designer Peter Frain
comes up with to grace the covers of the books. I think the design he came up
with for Seeds of Destruction is right up there with his best work, perfectly
capturing the essence of the story – and including a wonderful reference to
Hokusai’s The Great Wave.
We’re 55000 words into Volume Three already and the
storyline had already taken us to Abyssinia, Albania, China, France, Spain, Italy
and Southern Iraq with plenty more to come. This looks like being the most
supernatural of the three books and I’m loving delving into ancient religious
texts by way of research for it. In another war-spanning tale, established
characters will return alongside a whole host of new ones to prevent…
Well, that would be telling.