Dan Hanks is joining us today to talk about his novel, Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire. Here’s the publisher’s description:
An ex-Spitfire pilot is dragged into a race against a shadowy government agency to unlock the secrets of the lost empire of Atlantis…
In post-war 1952, the good guys are supposed to have won. But not everything is as it seems when ex-Spitfire pilot Captain Samantha Moxley is dragged into a fight against the shadowy US government agency she used to work for. Now, with former Nazis and otherworldly monsters on her trail, Captain Moxley is forced into protecting her archaeologist sister in a race to retrieve two ancient keys that will unlock the secrets of a long-lost empire – to ensure a civilisation-destroying weapon doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. But what will she have to sacrifice to save the world?
What’s Dan’s favorite bit?
Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire started out as a screenplay. As with all stories, it evolved over the years. Characters changed. Scenes appeared and disappeared. It moved from script to novel and grew into a completely different beast.
One constant remained: it was great fun.
Growing up, all my favourite stories had that thread of joyful entertainment. Those black and white Saturday morning serials with Flash Gordon and Zorro, then movies like Indiana Jones, Star Wars, the Rocketeer, and The Mummy series… they were all fast-paced, cliff-hanging action-adventures that never took themselves too seriously. Yet you didn’t have to turn your brain off to watch them and you always knew you were in for a hell of a ride. There would be a rush of excitement, the occasional laugh out loud moment, and maybe you’d get a little scared, before finishing breathless and knowing you couldn’t wait to get back on again.
I did my best to channel that sense of fun into every moment of Captain Moxley. BOY was it fun to write! How could it not be, with a seaplane chase, otherworldly monsters, shadowy governments, bad guys chasing and leaping onto disintegrating buses, and a race to a legendary lost archaeological myth (especially entertaining for me to dive into as a qualified archaeologist).
I had a blast hanging out with a main character who is beyond tired of everyone’s crap, an old friend seeking a lifelong dream, a younger sister who is energetic and cutthroat, and a slick museum curator who is waaaay out of his depth. Part of the fun of these stories is spending time with flawed and vulnerable heroes, and it was so entertaining as a writer to see how these four survived what I threw at them.
Another thing I always get a kick out of is hidden references… or Easter Eggs. Some people don’t like them, but ever since I saw Dirk Benedict do a double take at the Cylon in the opening credits of the A-Team I’ve adored those nods from one story to another. So it’s been extremely satisfying to throw in some sneaky (and some quite blatant) references to my favourite movies and TV shows, acknowledging them as the huge influences they’ve been. Influences not only on the writing of this book, but also the direction my life took.
From start to finish, working on Captain Moxley has never not been fun. And as any writer knows, it’s a privilege to find yourself with a story that gives back as much as you pour in, so I’ve tried to soak up every second.
Now I’m just hoping readers can tap into that good time. Because after a decade or more of gritty reboots and dark reimaginings, and the world itself going in the same direction, I think we all deserve a bit of an escape. When all is said and done, it’s important to have fun. Goodness knows we need it now more than ever.
So here’s to adventures that offer a few hours away from *gestures to everything 2020* with characters you can root for and be surprised by and maybe want to have a beer with one day if all this blows over and we escape the collapsing ancient underground tomb intact.
Dan Hanks is a writer, editor, and vastly overqualified archaeologist who has lived everywhere from London to Hertfordshire to Manchester to Sydney, which explains the panic in his eyes anytime someone asks “where are you from?”. Thankfully he is now settled in the rolling green hills of the Peak District with his human family and fluffy sidekicks Indy and Maverick, where he writes books, screenplays and comics.