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Great to have THE DIABOLIC author SJ Kincaid on the site today talking about setting as a character! THE DIABOLIC is published 1st November (that’s TODAY!) by Simon & Schuster.

I’m the author of the INSIGNIA series, and the upcoming book, THE DIABOLIC. I could honestly go on and on about world building for these sci-fi novels in the future, but I’ll try to keep this from becoming a novel in itself. They are both sci-fi stories set in the future – one a bit further in the future than now. I’ve found one single element in world-building that is most critical for me: the setting.

I need a place where the action takes place. That’s what gives my imagination the images I need for devising the plot. There is usually one primary location where the majority of the action takes place, and it is almost a character in its own right.

In THE DIABOLIC, the main setting is the Chrysanthemum, the power centre of a vast galactic Empire. The Chrysanthemum itself is a superstructure of 2,000+ interlinked st...

We’re really looking forward to reading Spynosaur by Guy Bass, so it’s great to have him on the site today to take part in our 5-4-3-2-1 feature!

Five songs that sum up the last novel you wrote perfectly

1. The James Bond theme
2. The Dinosaur Song by Johnny Cash
3. Walk the Dinosaur by Was Not Was
4. Spy by They Might Be Giants
5. The theme tune to pretty much any 22-minute animated cartoon from the 1980s (but if you’ve got some time on your hands, check out Pole Position, M.A.S.K, and the greatest cartoon theme tune in history, The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers.)
Four books you’d save from a burning bookcase

1. Dune by Frank Herbert – it’s a universe in a book. I’ve never read anything else that does such a good job of creating conflicting worlds, cultures and people. It doesn’t feel like Frank Herbert created Dune, it felt like he travelled there and wrote down what he witnessed.

2. George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl – the book...

As a huge fan of Electrigirl, written/illustrated in a brilliant mash-up of prose and graphic novel by the superbly talented Jo Cotterill and Cathy Brett, I’m incredibly excited for Electrigirl and the Deadly Swarm, out today from OUP! I celebrated by getting Jo to take on 5-4-3-2-1.

5 TV shows you can watch all day long (when not busy writing):

Castle: US series starring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic. He’s a bestselling crime writer who’s been allowed to follow around a NYPD homicide team headed by her. It’s slick, polished, and ridiculously silly. But it also has a great chemistry between the two leads.

Strictly Come Dancing: the sequins! the dancing! Claudia Winkleman!

The Night Manager: just put it on eternal repeat, OK?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: broke new ground in so many ways. The writing is superb and the casting sublime.

Masterchef: I love this show because it’s eternally positive. The contestants get better and better in each round, and Greg and John are such optimists, despite co...

Greek legends seems to have been done to death in YA and MG recently, there’s been a fair amount influenced by Norse mythology over the years, and Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles are probably the most popular of several books and series which have brought us stories based on that of Egypt. Japanese culture doesn’t seem to have played as big a part (although we’re huge fans of Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff and Kinslayer at The Bookbag) so it’s refreshing to see an adventure here featuring kappas, nure-onnas, and oni, amongst other fearsome creatures.

While the Japanese setting and monsters from that culture are likely to be relatively new to most readers, the central story is more familiar. As in so many fantasies, a hero with a special power, subject of a prophecy, is sent on a quest to save numerous lives. However it’s not just the Oriental influence which lifts this above the pack – hero Kenny and Kiyomi, the girl who fights alongside him, are two of my favo...