It isn’t every day your world is turned upside down. Or inside out. For Drome it’s only the beginning of his troubles when an oddly shaped gazebo moves his entire village from Earth to a hollow world.
The village collapses into chaos and backstabbing as they try to deal with the crisis. Meanwhile Drome is kidnapped by aliens with a burning interest in laying their hands on the device that brought the humans to their outside-in world.
The inhabitants of Hollow, a mix of aliens from all over the universe, believed that coming to Hollow was a one-way ticket but the gazebo promises a way out, a way to return to their home planets. Whoever controls the gazebo will be the most powerful, the richest, the… well, you get the picture.
Drome lurches from one danger to the next, clashing with everyone he meets apart from a living skeleton who helps him escape his captors. But, with the most scheming and dangerous person in the empire at their heels, will Drome and his fractious companion ever reach the village in time to warn them what’s coming?
Interview with the author Kent Silverhill
Q. Why did you choose a hapless person like Drome as a main character?
A. I think we all have some aspects of Drome in us. He’s a character we can identify with even when he behaves badly. Most of us feel put upon or downtrodden from time to time. He has some good traits too…
Q. Why is Hollow, um, hollow?
A. I’d been thinking about how people would react if their entire village was transported to an alien world. How would they cope? Would they pull together? Would they fall apart? I wanted the alien world to be different to the run-of-the-mill Middle Earth clones found in thousands of fantasy books. I wanted a fantasy world that would be challenging and different; a world you could never leave once you were there; a place where aliens from all over the universe lived uneasily together; a place where magic and science co-existed. Above all it had to be a great setting for an epic magic fantasy adventure.
An artificial hollow world with no physical entrances fitted the bill. To justify why the world is hollow I placed it somewhere in the spacetime continuum too hostile for an ordinary planet.
Q. Hollow has humans and aliens living in it, some from advanced civilisations, but the technology is fairly primitive. Why is that?
A. No-one goes to Hollow deliberately which means they arrive with what they carry. The only technology already in Hollow when the first people came were relics left by the Progs – the people who built Hollow – so almost everything had to be made from scratch. To make matters worse there is very little metal in Hollow. The Progs didn’t lay down ore deposits when they built their artificial world.
Q. Why did you choose to make Drome a cyclist?
A. There aren’t many things more ridiculous looking than grown men dressed in Lycra. I’m fascinated by the psychology of “If I sit on a bike then it’s okay to wear a colourful, stretchy outfit”.
I liked the idea Drome would be dressed in comical clothing while travelling around an alien world. While I was writing the story he developed an attachment to his cycle helmet, similar to a toddler to his blanket.
Q. Who are your favourite authors?
A. First is George MacDonald Fraser. His Flashman series of historical novels are superb. Flashman is the greatest anti-hero I’ve ever come across. I love Iain M Banks’ Culture novels. I’m a fan of Terry Pratchett’s fantasy comedy: his Discworld series and his young adult books. Then there’s Douglas Adams and his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as well as his Dirk Gently books. Wonderful stuff.
I’ve just realised the aforementioned are all deceased (gulp). My favourite living authors are Joe Abercrombie who writes gutsy fantasy with great characters and Neil Gaiman who has an amazing imagination and gift of storytelling.