“Relentless was my first novel and I was both daunted and delighted to have the chance to write it. My overriding desire was to explore these mighty Imperial warships that were essentially fortress-cities in space. They held thousands of men, some of them serving from generation to generation; somehow it worked, but how?
“The novel has sometimes been called ‘Gladiator in Space’ as I used a similar plot device of a high status character brought low by betrayal. In Gladiator, though, the central character has no previous connection to the gladiatorial scene—it is simply a means by which he may gain his revenge. In Relentless, by contrast, Captain Becket ends up as a convict-labourer aboard the very ship he had commanded days before. Becket’s experience of the horrific conditions of the lowest of his crew inevitably became not just exploration, but also commentary on the ignorance resulting from privilege.
“In writing Relentless I feared that I might fall into the age-old trap of writing heroes who were too good, so good that I would make them bland and boring. I set myself the challenge of writing a hero who was the villain and a villain who was the hero. Captain Becket and First Officer Ward were the happy result. Re-reading Relentless I can see my first steps in exploring the nature of leadership and morally complex characters. I enjoyed Ward’s character so much that I chose to go back and spend more time with him as part of the related short-story Mortal Fuel.”