Q&A with David Macinnis Gill

IB Teen LOVES This Series:

Mars may stink, but this series doesn't. The characters are off the charts engaging, the story is whip fast and deceptively layered, and the setting is cinematically realized. At first glance the Black Hole Sun series may seem like a sci-fi adventure story that's not only brimming with humor, it's own unique slang (it's great, it feels natural, the was Scott Westerfeld made his own slang flow throughout the pages his series), intense action sequences, and hails of bullets would have been on its own a real blast (no pun intended). But the story that Gill has crafted and the world he has built have fantastically crafted detail and depth. In it's awesome depths this is a story of destiny, redemption, love, and forgiveness. Throughout, but especially in Invisible Sun, is a love story that begins as unattainable and forbidden, turning hopeful and promise-filled, becoming an all consuming love that is full of self-sacrifice and is the stuff of legend. It's only a partial spoiler to say that this love that is soo worth fighting for has- for a time, I hope- seemingly come full circle. It is once again unattainable, painful, yearning, and something Durango feels he is unworthy of.

The author filled my head with vast, alien lastscapes and bad-ass characters. In my mind I envisioned Durango and Vienne's high-tech Ranger body armor, their symbriarmor as it's called, looking like what Rinzler/Tron wore in Tron:Legacy, and as for their famed armalite, in my head I heard it emitting a sound much like the Pulse Rifle the Colonial Marines used in Aliens. Fans ofStarship Troopers by Heinaline, the Sirantha Jax series by Ann Aguirre, Leviathan series by Westerfeld and even Marissa Meyer's Cindercould seriosly get lost in the pages of this throat gripping action adventure space opera.

I finally screwed up the courage to send out my first volley of questions to the mad genius that created Durango and his world, David Macinnis Gill. Readers be warned this interview contains major spoilers!

IB Teen grills David Macinnis Gill:

Durango and his father had a really twisted relationship. On the other hand I feel as though Mimi ended up being something of a Mother/conscience/ best friend/ to him. Did Durango ever have a credible father figure in his life? If not, was his service as a Ranger what helped shape the strong and awesome hero he became?

DMG: Durango was raised by a household staff that cared for and about him, and he saw very little of his father until he was old enough to be forged into the next Prince of Mars. I like to think of Durango as learning how not to do things by watching his father, who was never a decent human being. We have to take DNA into account, as well. Durango’s mother was hand-picked for intelligence, strength, and moral convictions. Although Durango has never met her 9that he knows of), she is half of him.

IBT: Duty and honor were everything to Vienne, and while I know you covered it on the books, we want details. Why did Vienne decide to follow Durango and become Dalit? Did she feel her duty was to Durango, did she simply want to live, or did Vienne already have feelings for our hunky hero?

DMG: Vienne’s fierce loyalty comes from her devotion to the monks who rescued her from her own abusive father. When she became a Regulator (which is the duty of all monks), she transferred that loyalty to Mimi, who was her chief by rank and her role model. At first, she didn’t care for Durango when he joined Mimi’s davos, thinking he was a spoiled brat who didn’t deserve her respect. She begrudgingly gave it as he proved himself an excellent soldier. After he risked his life to rescue his team from a Big Daddy attack, which killed Mimi in the process, she decided that Durango was her chief. She still issues with him—he was too loose with the Tenets and he was cocky, but when it came time for him to become a dalit unfairly, her sense of duty and honor made her decide to follow his example. Learning to love someone, especially and handsome rich boy, was always hard for Vienne, and she only let him in after he proved himself to her as a leader and as a man. I get asked why Vienne doesn’t just become Chief. The only answer I have is that she doesn’t want to lead because leaders don’t have as much fun.

IBT: Why did it take Durango and Vienne so long to admit to their feelings for one another? They have spent years together as Rangers, and it takes some pretty extreme circumstances on Outpost Fisher Four to get some progress. Was there anything besides sticking to the safety of their tried and true dynamic keeping them silent?

DMG: I think my answer above has some of the answer to this. Vienne’s early life shaped her distrust of people. Only small children get through to her easily. Durango had to earn his place in her life. For Durango, Vienne was unattainable, even though he fell for her early on. First, she was a fellow solider. Then, she was his crew. There are certain lines he wouldn’t cross. But ever Durango couldn’t fight it forever. 

IBT: What characteristics would you say makes the best type of hero?

DMG: The willingness to sacrifice oneself for the good of others. This can be done physically through combat or emotionally by putting others’ needs ahead of your own. 

IBT: Is it safe to say that Lyme was the architect of his own destruction?

DMG: Yes. Lyme could’ve been an excellent leader, but his ambition and his hubris led him to climb high than the ladder he’d built. He also lacks compassion and the ability to self-sacrifice.

IBT: What makes a good villain? Who is your all time favorite villain?

DMG: A good villain is someone who is absolutely morally sure that they are doing the right thing, even though their methods are evil. My all-time favorite villain is still Darth Vader.

IBT: If in an alternate universe Durango and Vienne were to meet as mortal enemies, who would win in a fight?

DMG: Vienne. No contest.

IBT: How did you choreograph the action and fight scenes? How long did it take you to create them?

DMG: The action scenes with vehicles were mapped out using Legos. I built little sets, then moved the pieces through the set to see what was possible. The fight scenes were a mix of recorded dances, MMA, and kung fu fights. Sometimes, I had my son work with me when I tried a move to see if it would fit a scene.

IBT: What are your key ingredients in making a story?

DMG: 1. A interesting setting 2. A flawed hero with something to prove 3. A villain who believes what he’s doing is right, even though it’s opposite. 4. Secondary characters who conflict with and compliment the main character 5. High stakes, such as a mine collapse or a rail gun striking the planet 6. Humor

IBT: Was earth completely ruined by the time we meet Durango and company? Was there no one down on Earth trying to revive it? Maybe there’s a band of teenagers on Earth running around in space suits having dangerous and romantic adventures.

DMG: Earth had been hit with huge natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes due to climate change. This led to disease outbreaks like the Pox, which spread to Mars. Eventually, though, the Earth recovered and is now thriving…and it hasn’t forgotten that Mars is out there, sitting on a planet full of rare minerals.

IBT: With the popularity of Dystopic and Apocalyptic fiction seemingly having reached their crescendo in 2012, do you think that it’s left fans clamoring for the resurgence of Fantasy and Sci-fi novels?

DMG: I think so—and hope so. Dystopia and Sci-fi have always gone hand-in-hand as genres. It seems natural that readers who have enjoyed dystopia would look to more speculative fiction.

IBT: By the end of SHADOW ON THE SUN, Durango and his crew have defeated Lyme, but will they have changed the way Dalits are viewed or treated? Will their normal daily life have changed or will they be going back to life as mercenaries? If not, what does their future hold?

DMG: With the collapse of Lyme regime, the future is wide open for Dalits and Regulators alike. There is a power gap there, and someone will need to step in to lead the Prefecture against its enemies. Who better than Durango?

IBT: Are you absolutely certain we can’t join Durango, Vienne, and Mimi on one more adventure?

DMG: Want to know a secret? There’s actually a novel between Invisible Sun and Shadow on the Sun that tells about Vienne’s return to health and her last confrontation with her brother, Stain. And who knows? One day, we may find out how Durango fulfills his destiny as Prince of Mars.

That’s all I’ve got. Thank you David!!

Black Hole Sun
Book One
by David Macinnis Gill

Read Chapter One
Available Now
Find it on AmazonB&NGoodreads
Durango is playing the cards he was dealt. And it’s not a good hand.

He’s lost his family.
He’s lost his crew.
And he’s got the scars to prove it.
You don’t want to mess with Durango.

Durango will take on any mission—as long as it is dangerous, impossible, and hopeless, and as long as it pays enough for him and his crew to get by. Fortunately for Durango, he also has Mimi, a symbiotic nano-implant, to keep him on the straight and narrow, as well as a crew of loyal soldiers. Because he’s going to need everything he’s got for his latest mission—defending a rag-tag clan of helpless miners from a ravenous horde of feral cannibals and their enigmatic but brutal leader, who is hellbent on taking out the miners, and Durango along with them.

Invisible Sun
Black Hole Sun, Book Two
Find it on AmazonB&NGoodreads
Obsessed with MUSE, the clandestine project that created the AI in his brain, mercenary chief Durango draws the ire of the government when he steals part of the secret project data and hightails it with his lieutenant, Vienne, to an ancient monastery. There, he meets the monks who raised Vienne from an orphan and also encounters soldiers working for his old nemesis, the crime lord Mr. Lyme. Lyme controls the territory surrounding the monastery, as well as the datacenters housing the rest of MUSE.

Undeterred, Durango and Vienne pull off an ill-advised raid on Lyme’s complex. During the ensuing battle, however, Vienne is captured, and Durango is beaten and left for dead. Now, wounded and shaken, Durango must overcome bounty hunters, treacherous terrain, a full scale civil war, and a warrior monk with an eye for vengeance (not to mention his own guilt, self-doubt, and broken arm) to find Vienne and free her from Archibald, a brain-washing pyromaniac with a Napoleon complex who wants to rule Mars--and kill Durango in the process. 

Black Hole Sun, Book Three
by David Macinnis Gill
ISBN-13: 978-0062073358
Publisher: Greenwillow
Pages: 352 
AmazonB&NGoodreadsMars Stinks.com
The stakes couldn’t be any higher for Durango. He’s lost just about everything, and even his memories are now suspect. Durango’s father is bent on transforming him into the Prince of Mars and stealing Mimi, but Durango and Mimi have other plans. And then there’s Vienne. Can she find Durango before it is too late?

Characters return, new characters are introduced, and the action never stops. Bloggers and reviewers embraced the first two books in acclaimed author David Macinnis Gill’s trilogy about Durango, Mimi (his nano-implant with a biting wit), and Vienne (his second-in-command), calling the books non-put-downable, thrilling, funny, and totally satisfying. A surefire bet for fans of dystopian sci-fi, from The Hunger Games to Battlestar Galactica. Cinematic action, rapid-fire dialogue, a futuristic setting on a terraformed Mars, and tragic romance-Shadow on the Sun is an unstoppable adrenaline rush!

Black Hole Sun Trilogy Prequel, Book 0.5
By David Macinnis Gill 

ISBN-13: 978-0062273024 
Publisher: Harper Teen Impulse

Pages: 50
Edition: E-Book
A stand-alone short novella, a prequel to David Macinnis Gill’s acclaimed Black Hole Sun, of which Suzanne Collins said, “David Macinnis Gill rockets readers to new frontiers. . . . Action-packed.”

Jacob Stringfellow, aka Durango, once had a promising career in the elite armed forces. That was before. Before his father betrayed him and his unit. Before he almost died and had an artificial intelligence flash-cloned to his brain. Now Durango and Mimi (the AI) are figuring out how to get along and figuring out how to stay in the game. Set on a violent and unforgettable dystopian Mars, this is a must-read for fans of the author’s Black Hole Sun trilogy and for anyone who loves intense, action-packed science fiction.

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