BYRON BREWER: Rik, the grand finale arrives a few months from now for Red Rising: Sons of Ares with October’s issue #6. As you have talked to fans and journeyed to stores and cons, how have the fans been reacting to this iteration of Pierce Brown’s world?
RIK HOSKIN: Byron, you know that I’m one of the most private writers around, so I don’t get many opportunities to interact with fans. However, those I have spoken to have been really thrilled with the series, not just the story but the way in which we’re telling it and some of the artwork choices, stuff like that.
Moreover, I gather that Pierce’s dedicated fans – of which he has more than either of us can imagine – have been really excited by what we’re doing and have embraced the opportunity to get more Pierce and more Red Rising. It’s a rich and fascinating world he’s created, so who can blame them!
BB: As writer here, Rik, along with Pierce, of course, how would you say Fitchner has grown as a character with the telling of this comic book’s adventure?
RH: Has Fitchner grown? I’m not sure. He started our series as a messed-up kid, and he’s gone through it making terrible choices with occasional moments of redemption until he became a messed-up adult. But for all his flaws, I kind of admire the guy – he has the determination and single-mindedness of a samurai, but he’s a product of a very warped societal system.
BB: What has been the most significant thing to happen in Sons of Ares that affects/leads to the events of Pierce’s Red Rising novels?
RH: Many, many spoiler warnings would have to precede any comprehensive answer, so I’ll keep things vague here and just say that Fitchner’s relationship with Bryn, and how that psychologically affects him, defines the Sons of Ares movement that plays a central role in the books.
BB: Rik, we have talked about Pierce and his novels. As an aside, tell us a little about your background.
RH: I’m a British writer of comic books, novels and animation. I’ve done a lot of licensed comics – stuff like Star Wars, Doctor Who, Shrek and numerous Disney comic strips – and I helped develop a successful Spider-Man title aimed at younger readers for the international market.
As a novelist I’m best known for my work under the pen-name of “James Axler”, as whom I crafted the post-apocalyptic Outlanders series for seven years and also contributed novels to its sister series, Deathlands. More recently, I wrote a trilogy of Hercules the Legendary Journeys novels for HarperCollins, the first of which is out now on eBook and called “Storming Paradise”.
I’ve also written animation for the BBC’s website and others, and I’ve done a little screenplay writing.
BB: What has co-writing this in-canon portion of the Red Rising franchise meant to you? Do you know if any of the comics material will be seen or referred to at all in coming Red Rising novels?
RH: Working with Pierce! With Pierce!!!
Pierce is smart and generous and open-minded in how we work together, so that’s been wonderful. And the whole team has been so fired-up and giving their best at every step, it’s been a real joy.
As for whether the comic material will be specifically referred to in Pierce’s upcoming book, he tells me the mythology and narrative linkage will be there, though not specific re-visits to scenes … after all, people can get the comics for those!
BB: Just for the sake of the uninitiated, following the climax of this before-the-novels comic, where do Fitchner and a few other key characters find themselves next in the course of this reality?
RH: You love to lift that spoilers curtain, don’t you? I am obliged to say only that the Sons of Ares – as a group – is crucial to Darrow, the main character in the phenomenal Red Rising trilogy. Without the Sons, Darrow’s story would be called Red Stayin’-Right-Where-He-Is, so it’s his interaction with them which defines him!
The books are from the other perspective to the comics, they focus on someone from the lowest tier of society, a Red, who strives to embed himself within the system to destroy it, while we’ve started from the highest tier – Fitchner, who is a Gold – and explored how he has become disenchanted with the system and tried to circumvent its diktats.
BB: And coming next from Mr. Hoskin will be … ?
RH: Various comics and books, some of which I can speak about and some that have yet to be officially announced. You’ll find me scripting the second volume of Brandon Sanderson’s White Sand for Dynamite, which readers of Red Rising will likely enjoy – it’s different, but it has that same grand sense of world-building and a hero striving against a world that’s geared against him. I also have a graphic novel out right now called Karna: Victory in Death, which interprets a portion of The Mahabharata – a classic of Indian literature.