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The Sharkpunk Interview - Richard Salter

Posted by Jonathan Green on

Richard Salter describes himself as a 'Writer of sorts...' and he is an editor as well as an author.

Sharkpunk: What, do you think, is the reason for people's enduring fascination with sharks? 
Richard Salter: I reckon it's that iconic image of the dorsal fin moving through the water, like a preview of what's to come, a warning flag letting you know it's time to get the hell out of the water. You can draw two sides of a triangle with a wavy line at the bottom, and everyone will know what it is. Also teeth. Lots of teeth.

SP: What was the inspiration behind your story Sharkbait? 
RS: Nothing specific. The idea I pitched was mostly the structure the story ended up with, though my helpful editor helped me define the nature of the titular little girl. I'm not sure where it all came from, other than a feeling of panic that I wouldn't be able to write a story without ANY fantastical elements. So I came up with the idea of the girl who can "charm" sharks, and I knew I wanted her to be called Sharkbait. Everything else came from there.

SP: What challenges, or surprises, did you encounter in writing your story? 
RS: Anything that requires me to do any level of research is a challenge for me. It feels too much like work so I tend to hurl oodles of unreal stuff into my fiction, be it time travel or ghosts or magic, to avoid having to actually know anything. I can get straight down to the fun part, the writing! It was a struggle to ground my fiction in a more "realistic" setting. There are supernatural elements to the story, but they're not overt and most of the narrative concerns a diamond heist that goes wrong and the consequences thereafter.

SP: If you had to pick a favourite shark, which would it be? 
RS: I think Mr Wonderful himself, Kevin O'Leary. Never a dull moment in the Shark Tank (the US equivalent to Dragon's Den) with Mr Wonderful around!

SP: Do you have a favourite fictional shark (in books, comics, films, or video games)? 
RS: I'm tempted to go with the plastic one from the 1966 Batman movie. It terrified me as a six year old! My slightly more serious answer would be the sharks in Open Water. That film terrified me as an adult! The sharks are treated realistically (as far as I can tell) and the tension as they circle nearer and nearer to the stranded couple is masterfully handled. In fact now I feel the urge to dig that one out and watch it again.

SP: Apart from your story in Sharkpunk, what's coming next from Richard Salter? 
RS: I am working on a super-secret project for a fairly big series that's tremendously exciting but also very hard work. It has consumed all my writing time for months, so for now there's nothing new that I can talk about. I did recently have my first novel released. It's called The Patchwork House and it's a haunted house story with a time travel twist. Reviewers are saying it's very scary, which is very nice to hear. I'm also busy promoting Fantasy For Good, which is an anthology of fantasy fiction I co-edited featuring the likes of Neil Gaiman, George R. R. Martin, Piers Anthony, Kelley Armstrong, Michael Moorcock, Carrie Vaughn and a ton of other talented folks. All proceeds go to the Colon Cancer Alliance, so please do check it out.

Thanks, Richard!

Richard Salter is a British writer and editor living in Toronto, Canada. His debut novel, The Patchwork House, is a ghost story with a time travel twist. He co-edited Fantasy For Good, a charity anthology featuring huge names in the genre such as Piers Anthony, Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin and Michael Moorcock, which benefits the Colon Cancer Alliance. He has written short fiction for Doctor Who and Warhammer, and has a story in This Is How You Die, the sequel to the popular Machine of Death. Find out more at

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