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SunLit Interviews

At the intersection of mystery and science fiction, a collaboration is born

The title character was the invention of Josh Viola, but after he shared his idea with Warren Hammond, a series emerged

Warren Hammond is known for his gritty, futuristic KOP series. “KOP Killer” won the 2012 Colorado Book Award in Mystery. His novel “Tides of Maritinia,” published in 2014, is a spy novel set in a science fictional world. 

Joshua Viola is a Colorado Book Award finalist and the author of “The Bane of Yoto” and “Blackstar.” He edited the Denver Post best-selling anthologies, “Blood Business” and “Nightmares Unhinged,” and co-edited “Cyber World,” named one of the best science fiction anthologies of 2016 by Barnes & Noble.

The following is an interview with “Denver Moon: The Minds of Mars” co-author Warren Hammond.

Each week, The Colorado Sun and Colorado Humanities & Center For The Book feature an excerpt from a Colorado book and an interview with the author. Explore the SunLit archives at coloradosun.com/sunlit


What inspired you to write this book?

Denver Moon was originally the creation of my co-author Joshua Viola. He came to me a few years back with his idea of a detective story set on Mars and asked me if I’d like to collaborate. Being a huge fan of both mystery and science fiction I was immediately taken with the premise. From there, we expanded the premise into a plot and slowly but surely got the story down on paper. At

Who are your favorite authors and/or characters?

I read and watch a lot of different things, but when I really started writing seriously, it happened to be at a time when I was on a big mystery/noir kick, so I feel like the authors I was reading at that time had the greatest influence on my writing style. Authors like James M. Cain, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler are my favorites as they tend to write sparsely, swiftly and savagely. 

Co-author Josh Viola.

Why did you choose this excerpt to feature in SunLit?

The prologue we included sets up the central mystery Denver Moon must solve. We wrote it in hopes that it would be intriguing enough to entice the reader into buying and reading the rest of the story, so why not see if it hooks a few of the Colorado Sun faithful?

What was the most fun or rewarding part of working on this book?

One of Josh’s first ideas for the series was that Denver would have a sidekick who is an artificial intelligence that’s been installed inside her gun. It took us some time to figure out how that would work and how she would communicate with her gun, but once we got that nailed down, Smith (short for Smith & Wesson) was a total blast to write. Pun intended.

What was the most difficult section to write in this book? Why?

One of the biggest challenges was the fact that we made Denver Moon, our first-person protagonist, colorblind. It’s a fun detail that fits into our plot in a few places, but it was also a tremendous pain to write an entire book from her perspective, which is devoid of color. I so readily think in color, it’s hard to keep it from spilling onto the page, and doubly hard once I catch myself to find an alternative way to describe something. 

“Denver Moon: The Minds of Mars.”

What was one interesting fact you learned while researching this book?

I really enjoyed the opportunity to read quite a bit about Mars. It’s a fascinating place that seems familiar yet so alien. The geography of the planet plays into the story quite a bit, although we do take plenty of license in imagining our version of life on the red planet. I hope I live long enough to see the day us humans finally land on its surface.

What project are you working on next?

We’ve just completed the second book in the series, Denver Moon: The Saint of Mars, and are now just beginning to plot out the third and final book in the series.

— Buy “Denver Moon: The Minds of Mars” at BookBar.
— Excerpt from “Denver Moon: The Minds of Mars” by Warren Hammond and Josh Viola.

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