Last year Gollancz announced Edward Cox’s The Relic Guild to be published this autumn. Intrigued by the premise, I followed the author’s Twitter account and ever since Ed has been a steady presence in my time line. He was also one of the first people I ran into last year in Brighton on which occasion I got one of his patented Ed-Hugs. Fast-forward eleven months and The Relic Guild has been released and I’m really looking forward to picking up a copy when I go to London next week and to get the chance to finally read it. Meanwhile I thought I’d ask Ed some questions on the occasion of the publication of his book and the following Author Query is the result.
Let’s start with the basics. Who is Edward Cox?
I’m the son of a daring trapeze double act, who never thought about having children until the fateful day of their unfortunate midair collision. I blunder through life in a perpetual state of semi-confusion, pausing every now and then to write a story. I’m a daddy and a husband, first and foremost, and I like to believe that there is more good in the world than bad. I don’t like seafood or TV adverts.
How would you introduce people to your Relic Guild and its agents?
Well now…if you were being introduced to an agent of the Relic Guild then your days have come to an end. The agents are the only humans permitted to use magic, and no one outside the Guild knows their identities. They are sworn to protect the Labyrinth and its denizens against the mysterious and nefarious things that dwell in the shadows. If you meet an agent it’s because you’re part of the problem, and you will be removed. Mwah-ah-aaaaaaah!
The Relic Guild is set inside the Labyrinth, at the heart of a giant maze. Where did that setting spring from?
The maze is really my version of the old haunted forest that surrounds a hidden, secret village. Only instead of a forest, it’s an endless maze; and instead of a village, it’s a sprawling city. That was the starting point from which everything else grew as the landscape and story developed.
Ever since your book was announced by Gollancz, you’ve been a (happy) presence in the SFF online community. What was the time between the announcement and the actual publication date like? Did you go crazy waiting?
Yes and no. I think it was 18 months between announcement and publication. Occasionally that felt like a long time, and I let the craziness out on Twitter, which I did, and still do, unashamedly. Marvellous outlet! But for the most part, I focused on writing book 2. Working to a deadline is very good for discipline.
You’re a proud part of the Gollancz Class of 2014. What has it been like to have such a tight-knit cohort of writers?
Great! One of my favourite moments of this journey was being part of the 2014 class. Of course, we all had our own books to worry about, but knowing my fellow debuts were there, that I was sharing the journey with them, was a very important and grounding element for me. I’ve never felt more a part of something than when Gollancz wheeled us out for Gollanczfest. (Editor’s note: A video of which can be found on YouTube.) A very fond memory.
You’ve an MA in Creative Writing and you currently teach it at the University of Bedfordshire. How does teaching writing influence the development of your own writing? Do your students teach you a thing or two sometimes?
Definitely! We all have to keep learning. Though I should say that I’m currently not lecturing. I had to take a break from the job so I could focus on writing the sequels for The Relic Guild. It was the right decision, but one I was sad about. Lecturing in Creative Writing was a new career for me, and my students were smart and questioning, and they pushed me every time I stood in front of them and opened my mouth. I really do miss them, and hope to return to the job one day.
The first thing I think of when I see your name is sunshine and hugs. To me you are a giant Care Bear. So if you truly were a Care Bear which one would you be and what would be your Care Bear Stare look like?
Hah! Now you’re testing my memory. Let’s see…the Care Bear Stare was the magic that came out of the symbols on their bellies, right? I think mine would be a cake-hug, something like that. Who else could I be but Cheer Bear…and why do I know so much about Care Bears?
What’s next for you? Any appearances or conventions planned?
There’ll definitely be the cons next year. As for now, not much planned, other than coming down from this year’s con season, the launch of the book, and knuckling down to write book 3. I’ll let folks know when stuff comes up ☺
Is there something else you’re passionate about other than writing and books?`
Music. Love the stuff! Always write to it, had aspirations to make my own at one time. Music is vastly important to me, and to my wife and daughter. It’s something that binds us. Couldn’t do without it.
As a book reviewer, I’m all about the book enabling; I can’t help but want to make people read all the good books out there. But I can always use help. What are your top recommendations of books we should look out for in the coming months?
Well, this one’s usually a challenge because there’s so much great stuff I’ve read recently, but this time I have my answer: my fellow debuts from the Gollancz Class of 2014! Check out John Hornor Jacobs, Den Patrick, Anna Caltabiano and Jon Wallace. A fine collection of stories right there.
Finally, I have to stay true to my roots and ask a librarian question to finish off with: Do you shelve your books alphabetically, by genre or do you have an ingenious system?
I have what I call a lazy alphabetical system. It goes by first letter of the surname only. Second or third letters can get stuffed. If your name starts with a B, you get chucked in the B section, so on and so forth, etc, etc. First letter is good enough for my laziness.
Bio: Edward Cox began writing stories at school as a way to pass time in boring lessons. It was a hobby he dabbled with until the late 80’s when he discovered the works of David Gemmell, which not only cemented his love of fantasy but also encouraged a hobby to become something much more serious.
With his first short story published in 2000, Edward spent much of the next decade earning a BA 1st class with honours in creative writing, and a Master degree in the same subject. He then went on to teach creative writing at the University of Bedfordshire. During the 2000’s he published a host of short stories with the smaller presses of America, where he also worked as a reviewer.
Currently living in Essex with his wife and daughter, Edward is mostly surrounded by fine greenery and spiders the size of his hand. The Relic Guild is his first completed novel, and it is the result of more than ten years of obsessive writing.