Dominic Dulley has been writing since the age of 11, and even got a manager in his 20s. However, he took a break from writing due to responsibilities that come from being an adult. Luckily for readers, Dulley was able to return writing. His latest book is Residuum (here), which is the third novel in “The Long Game” space opera series. Wanting to learn more about his career as well as Residuum, I was able to interview him for ScifiPulse.
Nicholas Yanes: Growing up, what were some stories you loved? Are there any you still enjoy revisiting?
Dominic Dulley: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy (in 5 parts) by Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, anything by Iain M Banks, particularly his Culture novels, Tintin and Asterix, Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome, the Brigadier Gerard stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, and C.S. Forester’s Hornblower books, all of which I’ve reread in the past few years.
Yanes: When did you know you wanted to try your hand at creative writing? Was there a moment in which this goal crystalized for you?
Dulley: I began writing when I was about 11 and finally finished my first novella at 18. I wrote a few books in my twenties and even managed to get an agent, but pressures of work and family got in the way and I gave up and didn’t start writing again until I was in my early 40s, when I decided to take things seriously. I had a few short stories published and started engaging on social media and going to conventions, and eventually landed another agent and a deal.
Yanes: You are also a software developer. How do you think this background has shaped your writing style?
Dulley: My knowledge of coding and an (entirely benign) interest in hacking has been useful in some of my books, but not so much in my space operas. However, another interest of mine is aviation (I learned to fly in my 20s), and I love using a ‘spaceified’ version of radio jargon in the comms procedures used by Dainty Jane and her crew.
Yanes: Your latest book is Residuum, which is the final installment of The Long Game series. What was the initial inspiration for this series?
Dulley: I’ve always loved space opera and wanted to have a try at it. I played around with ideas for an interesting ship and crew, and after watching True Grit I decided on pairing a grumpy older man (Captain Mender) with a younger female protagonist (Orry Kent). After that, everything else fell into place.
Yanes: Reflecting on The Long Game as a whole, were there characters or plots that came to life in unexpected ways?
Dulley: In the first draft of Shattermoon (book 1 in the series), Orry’s brother Ethan died. Both my publisher and agent felt strongly that he should survive, and I’m so glad I took their advice as Ethan has proved an invaluable character in the following books, getting his fellow characters (and this writer) out of sticky situations on more than one occasion.
Yanes: As you approached crafting Residuum, what were the key arcs you wanted to wrap up?
Dulley: It’s difficult to answer this without giving away any spoilers. Let’s just say that Orry’s destiny has been the key arc throughout the series.
Yanes: Orry Kent is a great character. When did you come to terms with saying goodbye to her?
Dulley: I’m still in denial. I hope to return to Orry and the other characters at some time in the future, so it’s more like au revoir than goodbye.
Yanes: Looking back, how do you think you’ve improved as a writer while creating Residuum?
Dulley: I’m fortunate to have a wonderful and extremely experienced editor in Jo Fletcher, and although editing is a difficult experience a lot of the time, it has undoubtedly made me a better writer. Each book of the trilogy has taught me a lot, to the point where I now stop myself from doing something because I can hear Jo tutting in my ear! I thought I might have less to change in Residuum, but if anything there was more, so perhaps the thing I’ve improved the most is my ability to accept criticism with good grace.
Yanes: When people finish reading Residuum, what do you hope they take away from the story?
Dulley: When I’m reading I know a book is good when I don’t want it to end, and I feel a real sense of disappointment when I reach the last page. I just hope some readers will feel that way about Residuum.
Yanes: Finally, what else are you working on that people can look forward to?
Dulley: Having focused on a trilogy for five years, the sense of freedom I now have is rather daunting! I’ve been toying with a few different projects, trying to find one that I’m willing to commit to. Taking a break from writing every day has been refreshing, but I am keen to get back to it now, so I need to knuckle down and make a decision.