I’ve received a number of questions regarding my upcoming novel George goes to Neptune, and the George Hughes trilogy in general. Herewith a Q&A, ahead of the release on the 25th October.
What was the inspiration for the George Hughes trilogy?
The initial novel, George goes to Mars, was inspired by an article I saw in 2004, regarding an individual who made a claim with the US land registry to the effect that if the moon was ever colonised, said individual would have the right to sell the land. To that end, this person subsequently received money from film stars, a few ex-Presidents and other eccentrics from amongst the rich and famous, buying plots of land to build lunar holiday homes. I subsequently came up with the basic story for George goes to Mars and designed it as a science fiction adventure for all ages, with an emphasis on fun and excitement rather than heavy sci-fi hand-wringing of the Asimov variety.
Was the George Hughes saga originally designed as a trilogy?
I’d like to claim it was all neatly planned, but no. George goes to Mars was originally conceived as a stand-alone novel. However, after writing it, the plot for the second novel immediately occurred to me, fully formed. It was such a good idea that I knew I would have to write it someday, but I actually dithered for several years, until 2012, when George goes to Titan was written.
And by that point, you planned it to be a trilogy?
Er… no. After reading the initial draft of George goes to Titan, my wife said – and I have to be careful of spoilers here – “(name redacted) is going to return, right? You need another sequel.” I immediately realised she was correct, and again, almost overnight, the entire plot of George goes to Neptune was planned.
Is George goes to Neptune definitely the final instalment?
I am 99.9 per cent certain there will be no more George Hughes novels. If I ever write another, it will be set several years later with totally different characters. But even then my ideas for such a story are very, very sketchy and quite honestly I think I am done with the George Hughes universe.
Because I know, deep down, nothing will top George goes to Neptune. I am very pleased with it. I think it’s the best of the three and a fitting end to the adventures of George, Meredith, Giles and the others.
What can readers expect from the new novel?
It has as much mystery, action and humour as the previous books. The Martians will return, and George will also encounter an entirely new alien race. The plot obviously involves a trip to Neptune for reasons I cannot spoil, suffice to say that the reason is very personal for George.
There are also many returning characters, although in some cases they only turn up briefly. However, Giles and Meredith both continue to play crucial roles. In fact, I think Meredith has all the best lines this time. I have really enjoyed developing her as a character throughout this series.
The main difference between George goes to Neptune and previous instalments is that this time the tone is slightly darker, especially in the final act which I think may surprise a number of readers.
How is it darker?
Well, I can’t get into specifics for fear of spoilers. However, the plot is as much about overcoming the potential for evil within oneself as overcoming external evil. Amid this I touch on issues including grief and the consequences of violence. But this probably makes the book sound really heavy and tough. I promise it is just as much fun as the others!
The George Hughes series have thrown up a bunch of interesting, more grown-up themes, right?
Absolutely. They are for adults as much as children, and over the course of three novels I have touched on everything from murderous religious fundamentalism to sexual equality, civil rights, slavery as well as more metaphysical elements. If these stories provoke a modicum of thought amid the thrills, then I am very happy.
George goes to Neptune is released on the 25th October. You can pre-order the Kindle download from Amazon by clicking here. Print copies will be available from the 31st October.