We had a pleasure to sit and chat with Guy previously for this author interview and learn that I am and was a fan of Guy with his the Necropolis Trilogy, which embarrassingly I called it Narcopolis. Now, he's releasing a new book, Arcadia, and a good reason to have another gap together.
Guy introduces himself as an introverted seeker of knowledge with a dark sense of humor. From a childhood immersed in Cold War propaganda classics to a career spanning academia and the sports industry, he's always been a keen, if somewhat cynical, social observer. Portman's latest work, "Arcadia," is the second installment in the Emergence Series, following last year's debut, "Emergence." Additionally, Portman is extending the Necropolis Series to five installments, (yay, I'm excited!)
Hey Guy, thanks for the interview and welcome back! I'm so excited to learn more about Arcadia as I'm always intrigued by the dark layers in your books. What's the magnet pulling you towards these shadowy corners of human nature?
My mother asked me that very question the other day. I guess I’ve always been that way inclined. It’s just the way I am. I have always been fascinated by the darker side of human nature. Maybe my psychiatrist could shed some light on that. At the end of the day, it’s all I’ve ever known.
I assume we are what we read? But your blend of black comedy and crime is something else! Where do you scoop up your inspiration for this unique mix?
Like many of us I am interested in crime. I have read a lot of crime fiction and am a prolific watcher of true crime. As for the black comedy, I have an innate caustic wit and a dry sense of humour. It’s not to everyone’s taste. My date last week didn’t think much of it. If other things in life came as naturally to me as my blend of black comedy and crime, life would be much less frustrating.
I can say, your satire is razor-sharp, yet your stories have real depth. How do you keep this balance without tipping over?
Above all experience. When I started out my desire was to write straight satire. I have always been a voracious reader of satirical fiction. That’s not to say I’ve liked all of it though. Far from it. Over time I have been drawn more towards writing that is somewhat more grounded in reality, as opposed to straight satire.
That's why your characters are so alive, they practically jump off the page! How do you breathe life into them, and do you ever pinch bits from people you know?
I have consciously and no doubt subconsciously pinched bits from various people. Not people I know so much, but rather people that I have had dealings with, be it socially, when I was in gainful employment, and travelling the world.
Your writing process sounds intense! How does this stop-start rhythm shape the stories you tell?
Writers like to get immersed in their fictional worlds as you know Neda. For me working on a book seven days a week allows me to really live that fictional life vicariously. As for the stops, we all need a break from time to time. Or life gets in the way. One or the other.
What makes me drawn to your stories is your settings. They're so vivid. How do you pick these places, and what's your secret sauce for bringing them to life?
Most of my books are set in England including the next instalment in the Emergence Series. I know the settings because I have lived here most of my life and am an avid and cynical observer of everything around me. As for Antigua, I spent time there in 2022 and really got a feel for the place. The contrast between the tropical paradise and its dark underbelly enthralled me, and I believe this is portrayed well in the book.
That's interesting. Diving into AI is a big leap. What drew you to it, and how does it mingle with the mind games in your stories?
Let’s be clear, I haven’t been using AI to write my books. I am merely writing a short(ish) story about AI. It is something we are all going to be living with, and I think writing a story featuring AI is helping me to come to terms with what the future might hold. You could say it’s medicinal.
You hop between genres like a literary ninja! What's the thrill and the challenge in switching it up?
A literary ninja – I like that. Darkly humorous crime is my forte and main focus. But at the end of the day, I relish writing what I want to regardless of genre. From a branding/business perspective hopping between genres, or at least embracing elements of different genres, is I am told not a good business decision. However, I write what enthuses me. I know you’re the same. Variety is the spice of life.
How do you juggle the gold nuggets of advice from beta readers and editors while keeping your story's soul intact?
That’s an interesting question. Editors and beta readers have proven to be invaluable in supplying me with erudite feedback and ways to improve my books. However, they have never criticized my actual storylines. So, the stories souls have never been threatened. Fingers crossed that remains the case.
And lastly, can you drop any hints about the new adventures or themes you're itching to tackle in your next projects?
I am currently writing #3 in the Emergence Series. Teenage protagonist Horatio’s psychopathy knows no bounds, and that is the primary theme. I’ve been living vicariously through psychopaths for a long time what with the preceding Necropolis Series featuring Horatio’s father Dyson. My shorter stories featuring societal issues such as AI allow some much-needed respite from this.
Fantastic news. Thank you for this chat Guy. Look forward reading more of your books.
If you're interested to ask a question from Guy, drop a comment below. Or find him through these links:
Twitter (X) profile @guyportman.