Interview with Pete Fellows, Author of Zeroworld

23 Aug 2023

What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Zeroworld?

I’ve had the idea that I wanted to write a book since my early twenties but life got in the way. Then I was in Canada for a work trip in back in 2014 and decided I was going to do it. It was a trickle of writing for the next few years, whenever I had the time, but the pandemic forced my hand. I had very little work at the time (I run a recruitment company) so decided to finally focus and finish the novel.

In terms of the story itself I had been reading about some of the lengths people go to prolong their lives. From cryogenic freezing to near obsessive health regimes, I wondered if my story could focus on someone who had some of those same motivations. What would happen if whatever she had done worked and what would be the consequences to society if there was no longer any jeopardy? Centuries of living perhaps without any consequence. This idea was the backdrop, then I mixed in elements of concern over AI, creation of virtual realities, and a conspiracy as the cherry on top. Madeline was a potential name on our shortlist for my daughter so I thought as we didn’t use the name, she would be a different kind of daughter, as my main protagonist. Alex, I think I subconsciously named for one of my best friends growing up who is one of the strongest women I know. My hope is my story is an easy going read, fun but with some more serious themes underlying the narrative.

If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Zeroworld, what would they be?

Madeline loves elements of pop culture and would have been a kid through the 1990s and maybe the late 1980s. I think she would have gotten into the grunge scene, so I’m going to suggest something by Nirvana perhaps? Or Pearl Jam.

Alex isn’t born yet and music is not a key part of her personality. However, she is an extraordinary martial artist so perhaps some dramatic drums or maybe even 1970s style Kung Fu theme music?

Zoe is complicated, I’ll leave that music decision to the reader.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

Of late I’ve tended to go for stories that are arguably a little more easy-going. Less Sebastian Faulks and more Kelley Armstrong. Both are extremely talented authors of course but I think I’ve preferred to read for escapism rather than driving deep emotion in the way that Faulks’ ‘Birdsong’ does, for example.

When I was younger, I was the opposite, reading more than my share of 19th Century literature. I would like to go back and read Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment again at some point to see if it has the same impact on me now as it did then but currently it’s less about genre, and more about an action packed, gripping and entertaining story that lets you escape for an hour or two. My novel is genre straddling – a mix of science fiction, fantasy and conspiracy perhaps reflecting the flexibility I have in the books I read.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

I’m reading through the John Milton series of books by Mark Dawson. There are so many! But each one is gripping, and you want to immediately step into the next installment.

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

The sequence where Madeline first encounters the den, I threw just about everything at it – the speed required to drive through the tree, her hatred of elevators, the boat. I pretty much shoved every idea I had into the melting pot.

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

It’s more about mood for me, sometimes I can write a lot in one go, other times I barely make a word. I’m guilty of procrastination at times, just one more minute doing anything else before I finally get to writing.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

Not particularly, but I’ve always quite liked the serenity prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

That even if you have all of the time in the world, life is for living.


Pete Fellows is the author of the new book Zeroworld

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