Adrian Tchaikovsky is one of the few authors I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. It’s not too common having authors not from Ireland doing signings here. It’s something I feel we need to improve on (we actually are working on that *cough* Dublin2019 *cough*).
I met Adrian three years ago, now. I was in charge of the Literature Society of my university at the time. I absolutely abused the system to invite a personal hero of mine over, and I don’t regret it for a second. He helped me in ways I never thought I needed to be helped. While I wanted to simply meet one of my favourite authors, it turned out to be so much more for me. Adrian is a giant of a man. He’s tall and broad, and when I met him, I was intimidated at first. However, within seconds of talking to him, you’ll find he is a gentleman.
Adrian Tchaikovsky has published fourteen novels, one e-novel, and contributed to many collections. He most recently won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for his stunning book Children of Time. It was book I had been keenly interested in since he first mentioned it on his blog. I knew it was award winning from the moment I read it. Adrian had been deserving of this award for a number of years. He had been short listed for the Gemmell Legend Award a number of times for his Shadows of the Apt book, and sadly lost out to other equally talent writers.
Children of Time was a stunning insight into human hubris, and a hell of a read. I read it so intensely I tore the damn dust jacket.
He is one of the few authors who have managed to make me cry, and in his final Shadows of the Apt, Seal of the Worm, novel I did so twice. There are scenes in the book that are so beautiful, so much so, that my heart broke reading them.
I first stumbled across Adrian’s work in the less frequented section of a bookstore in Dublin. The first two of his books had been out already. They’d been released quite close together, and the covers of both Empire in Black and Gold, and Dragonfly Falling grabbed my attention. I liked the cover, it was as simple as that. Except that I didn’t pick them up quite yet.
I was a teenager who didn’t have a tonne of money to spend, and at the time, books had not yet become my priority. Sure I had liked a few books, but it was a few. I bought a book every few weeks. Sometimes it was months before I bought another book. I used to go into the same bookshop and look at the same books, and after doing this a number of times I bought Empire in Black and Gold. I started to read it on the bus home that very day.
And I was confused mostly. This wasn’t a book for a poorly read fourteen-year-old. I had a lot of reading to do, but Adrian really helped me with that. I sort of grew up reading Shadows of the Apt in the six years it was released over.
The book expects the reader to keep up with it, rather than spoon feeding you. It took me a while to get used to that, but I did, and by then I was halfway through this book about beetles, ants, wasps, and spiders. I was enthralled by Adrian’s writing. I loved the fight scenes. They were so clear in my mind. Adrian wrote them with such certainty. He has a practical style of writing that made it easy to read. Those scenes were later described to me as if “they were dancing across the pages,” and some of characters who duelled one another were death dealing artists. Tynisa and Tisamon were artful depictions of killers.
The years crept by and the series grew on my shelves, and suddenly War Master’s Gate was out and I was in my second year of college chatting with Adrian on Facebook about him coming over to Dublin to give a talk to my society.
I had a lot of respect for Adrian simply because he was basically a full time ‘normal job’ worker as a legal executive, and the rest of the time he was a writer. Since 2008 Adrian has published fourteen doorstoppers that are on my shelves now (all signed I might add, proudly).
So I figured I’d have him come in a give a speech on what it’s like being a writer with a full time normal job. How he manages his insane output with everything else in his life.
By the time he came I’d stepped down from the position, and I went to the event purely as a fan, and I relished every bit of it. Every other question he was asked, was by me. I was rabid with fandom. I had to rein myself back in, but I was in my element. I was the happiest I’d been in ages. I was on the edge of my seat. The related image is my face after the talk he gave. As you can see. I’ve lost my mind.
I asked Adrian if he wanted to come for a drink after with a few of my friends. He humbly agreed. We chatted about the then upcoming final book in his Shadows of the Apt series, Seal of the Worm. I bugged him with theories, and while in retrospect it may have been annoying for him to deal with, I was delighted to be there. I was in awe. In front of me, having a drink with me, was one of my heroes.
People say it’s hard to meet your heroes. They recommend you don’t do it. I had dinner with mine, and loved every minute of it.
The day after the drink, Adrian had a few hours to kill, and offered to go for lunch with me. He didn’t have to do it. He may have felt obliged, but he was a gentleman and I never noticed anything from him other than encouragement and contentment. We chatted for hours.
He asked me, rather unprompted, about my book, and that was an odd experience. I kept apologising to him about my excitement. Adrian was kind and gentle. He complimented me on some things in my work. He told me more about his work ethic. In a few hours he had turned from a far off hero, into a palpable inspiration. Here was someone I could aspire to be like. He talked about the idea of “paying it forward.” And he did that for me.
That was the day I thought maybe I could make something of all this writing stuff. I don’t have to be Stephen King or J. K. Rowling. I can just write my stories, and maybe some teenager could start to read them, and want to write their own stories. I can go to work every day, and come home and write a thousand words a day (as Adrian recommended to me) and I’d be a writer. I’d be a writer simply because I write.
Adrian has had success. He has been acclaimed as a writer. When I found out he had won the Clarke, I was so happy for him. This person I’d met twice, but who had a profound effect on my writing.
After I met Adrian, what he said to me that day really hit me, and my writing simply grew and grew, and thousands of words spooled out of me. I was suddenly sitting on thousands and thousands of words.
And yeah, I know, you should write because you want to, and you should have self-discipline. That’s great for some. And I got to that point eventually. Adrian Tchaikovsky happened to have helped me get there.
I thanked him that day, and thanked him afterward. I got to meet him at Octocon 2015 when he came over again. It was a short chat, but I enjoyed it.
Regarding his current work, he is working on a series about shape-shifters. Echoes of the Fall starts with The Tiger and the Wolf, a book about a young girl Maniye, who happens to be born of Wolf and Tiger clans, and can turn into both. The topic sounds simple, but Adrian manages to take the cliche and turn it into a fascinating read. The stand out moment for me is Maniye finding her Champion form, a weird mix of wolf, tiger and bear. The description of the primordial beast stays with me still. It was nearly Lovecraftian in its primeval prose.
The second book of Echoes of the Fall, The Bear and the Serpent, was published 09/02/17. It continues Maniye’s story in The Tiger and the Wolf. She goes south to fight her new ally’s war. I recommend you go out and pick it up if you haven’t already. Pick up anything by Adrian. I know you’ll enjoy it.