Author · Spotlight/Interview

Author Interview: Gavin G. Smith: The Bastard Legion Series. #BookBloggers #BookBlogger #Books #AuthorInterview #GavinGSmith @gavingsmith @gollancz


Today on The Tattooed Book Geek I am pleased to be welcoming Gavin G. Smith the author of the science fiction series The Bastard Legion onto my blog for an interview.

The Bastard Legion.

  • The Bastard Legion (2017).
  • The Bastard Legion: Friendly Fire (2018).
  • The Bastard Legion: War Criminals (2019).

Interview with Gavin G. Smith.

1 – Would you please tell us about The Bastard Legion series?

The Bastard Legion tells the story of Miska Corbin (no relation), an ex-covert operative, and all round very dangerous individual. Miska steals a space-going maximum-security prison barge, the Hangman’s Daughter, and plants explosives inside the 6000-strong convict populations. She trains them in VR with the help of the electronic ghost of her Marine sergeant dad, and uses them as penal mercenary legion for fun and profit. (Mild spoiler of book 1:)All the while Miska is trying to find out who killed her father, as she believes the murderer is on-board the Daughter.

2 – If you had to summarise The Bastard Legion series in one sentence, what would it be?

The Dirty Dozen for lovers of Aliens, a down-and-dirty military SF series set in a world of mercenary actions and covert operations, with SF’s meanest hero/protagonist and a glorious cast of assorted scum.

3 – Where did the idea for The Bastard Legion series come from?

It’s not a very interesting story I’m afraid. I had finished my previous trilogy (Age of Scorpio) and was discussing what to do next with my then editor, Marcus Gipps, at Gollancz. I was of the opinion that the Age of Scorpio trilogy had been a great deal of fun to write but was something of a self-indulgent prog album. I wanted to write something that was a bit more stripped-down, dirty Rock’n’Roll. I was looking for something that would work as a straightforward high concept pitch, something that wouldn’t be out of place in the pages of 2000AD. I came up with 3-4 ideas but in the end it was the Bastard Legion that was chosen.

4 – What is your favourite part of writing The Bastard Legion series?

I have a lot of fun with the action scenes and frequently have to reign them back in. I do, however, love the way characters relate to each other and the strange contortions their horrible situation throws them into. There’s a surprising amount of warmth there despite most of the characters being, well, kinda’ terrible people. (I’m not sure I’m selling this well.)

5 – What does the future hold for The Bastard Legion series?

Shenanigans and more shenanigans! There’s still a question as to whether or not the Legion has a future, as I’m waiting to see if the series will be re-commissioned. If so, well the Bastards are on borrowed time. They have everyone from law enforcement to bounty hunters on their trail, they make enemies wherever they go and the net is slowly tightening around them. Possible fun and games in the future involve protecting a particularly high maintenance superstar from a murderous and well-armed cult, and being caught in the middle of a proxy gang war manipulated by two of the Small Gods on an ice planet. Beyond that I can’t say too much more.

6 – If you had to make a music playlist to accompany The Bastard Legion series what songs would be included?

This is kind of an interesting question. I struggled a bit with the Miska as a character, for a number of different reasons when I was writing book 1. For some reason I just couldn’t get to grips with her. It was only when I worked out what her taste in music was that I really got who she was.

Miska’s playlist would include quite a lot of AC/DC, some Metallica, and Cochise by Audioslave. Only Friend by the Temperance Movement always reminds me of Miska.

I’m lucky enough in that Miska/the Bastard Legion do actually have their own theme tune (I’m reasonably sure this is unique for a book) as some friends of mine wrote and recorded a song about Miska and we made a music video:

7 – When did you decide to become a writer?

I’m not really sure. I’ve always enjoyed writing. it was one of the few things I was good at, at school. I briefly considered a career in the military, but it was clear I would never be fit enough and didn’t like doing what I was told. For my sins I ended up doing film courses in higher education, and found that I enjoyed and had a degree of aptitude for script writing. I kept on writing films and short stories that weren’t really getting anywhere. I started writing my first novel, Veteran, as a short story and that sort of got out of hand…

8 – Why do you write/What inspired you to become a writer?

Again I’m not sure I have a good answer for this. I really enjoy it. I like working on my own listening to music I like and I had come to the conclusion that life was too short to do a job you didn’t enjoy.

9 – What do you find to be the most rewarding part of writing?

So I really like finishing a novel and sending it off to the publishers, there’s a tremendous sense of satisfaction with that, right up until you get the edits back. More than that, however, I enjoy the process. You tend to exist in a vacuum until you actually show it so someone else and at the end of a day of writing I find I either love what I’ve done or hate it. The days when you love it are very satisfying.

10 – What do you find to be the hardest part about writing?

The business side of it isn’t much fun and it’d be nice if we were paid more. When you’ve submitted a project and you’re waiting to hear back about it can be pretty gruelling (we call it the Misery), and if you want to write you’d better get used to rejection.

11 – If you were asked to give one piece of advice to an aspiring writer what would it be?

Probably don’t quit your day job until such a time as you’re really sure you have a steady income from writing. (Which as a statement is a little like: don’t quit your day job until you’ve got that unicorn properly stabled.)

12 – When writing are you a plotter or a pantser?

I can do both but I mostly try to plot but I’m not afraid to divert from the plan.

13 – Have any authors influenced your work?

Many! I think questions of influences are right up there with questions as regards ideas. Personally I’m influenced by everything from people I meet, to landscape, architecture, engineering, technology, current events, and of course games, comics, movies, TV shows etc. Specific influences for the Bastard Legion would be 2000AD stories like Strontium Dog, Rogue Trooper, the Bastard Legion, films like Aliens, the Dirty Dozen, Black Hawk Down, Heat (my favourite film), Avatar, any number of war films, particularly Vietnam ones. Authors who influenced Bastard Legion: Michael Herr, all the original Cyberpunks, Peter F. Hamilton, Richard Morgan, Myke Cole and probably numerous others.

14 – What are your top five favourite books?

In no particular order: The Liar by Stephen Fry, The Crow Road by Iain Banks, The Reality Dysfunction by Peter F. Hamilton, Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Trilogy, Best Served Cold by the Jabbercrombie (Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole is a close 6th, I also can’t help but think ASOIAF should be in there somewhere as should Iain M. Banks’s Player of Games).

15 – If you were writing your autobiography what would you call it and why?

How I became a Fiordland Penguin. Because I think it’s important to set yourself goals.

16 – When you aren’t writing how do you like to relax?

I like to quest for time to read and listen to music. I almost certainly watch too much TV. I love the cinema but my favourite things to do are gaming and traveling, I particularly enjoy walking in the countryside. I’d like to start diving again as well.

16 – If you could change one thing about the state of the world, what would it be and why? – your answer can be serious, fun or both.

I’d really like us to make better decisions based on information, compassion, enlightened self interest and what’s best for society as a whole, rather than prejudice, short sighted self interest, and ridiculous commercial gain for a shockingly small group of people.

17 – Do you have any last words for the readers of this interview?


I’m listening to Only Friend by the Temperance Movement and I’m really fond of the lyrics: ‘Always look with a loving eye, but don’t you ever forget your own worth…

I’ve no idea if that’s cheesy or not.

The Bastard Legion Series:

The Bastard Legion.

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; 01 edition (5 Oct. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1473217253
  • ISBN-13: 978-1473217256
  • Amazon UK  /  Amazon US


Four hundred years in the future, the most dangerous criminals are kept in suspended animation aboard prison ships and “rehabilitated” in a shared virtual reality environment. But Miska Corbin, a thief and hacker with a background in black ops, has stolen one of these ships, the Hangman’s Daughter, and made it her own. Controlled by explosive collars and trained in virtual reality by the electronic ghost of a dead marine sergeant, the thieves, gangsters, murderers, and worse are transformed into Miska’s own private indentured army: the Bastard Legion. Are the mercenaries just for fun and profit, or does Miska have a hidden purpose connected to her covert past?

The Bastard Legion: Friendly Fire.

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (12 July 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 147321727X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1473217270
  • Amazon UK  /  Amazon US


In FRIENDLY FIRE, the Bastard Legion are hired to pull off a daring power-armoured heist of propriety tech. 

Getting the tech will be hard. Getting off the planet, deadly.

Four hundred years in the future, the most dangerous criminals are kept in suspended animation aboard prison ships and “rehabilitated” in a shared virtual reality environment. But Miska Storrow, a thief and hacker with a background in black ops, has stolen one of these ships, the Hangman’s Daughter, and made it her own. Controlled by explosive collars and trained in virtual reality by the electronic ghost of a dead marine sergeant, the thieves, gangsters, murderers, and worse are transformed into Miska’s own private indentured army: the Bastard Legion.

The Bastard Legion: War Criminals.

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (24 Jan. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1473217296
  • ISBN-13: 978-1473217294
  • Amazon UK  /  Amazon US


It was the kind of dirty, violent work the Bastards were made for. Protect a bunch of colonists in the Epsilon Eridani system, whose moon had become a war zone as megacorp-backed mercenaries fought a brutal proxy war. Just the kind of fight the penal mercenary legion liked.

But a hundred headless corpses are hard to explain, even for the Bastard Legion, and soon they are on the run, abandoned by their allies, and hunted by their most dangerous foe yet . . . but Miska’s going to play them at her own game.

The Bastard Legion: the galaxy’s most dangerous criminals controlled by implanted explosives and trained by the electronic ghost of a dead marine.

About Gavin G. Smith.

Gavin Smith 2 (C) Lawrie Photography

Gavin Smith hates writing about himself so he has chosen not to-to preserve the mystery. Only you can decide if it’s working. Turn to page 80. He also misses Fighting Fantasy novels, though Deathtrap Dungeon was too hard.

Other than that he was born in Dundee in the same year that Iron Butterfly recorded Inna-Gadda-da-Vida. He has also lived in Camberley, Hayling Island, Portsmouth, Hull, Leamington Spa and is currently living a near feral existence in Leicester (if you see him in the streets he will write science fiction for sweeties). Anyone who has been to any of these places will understand why his fiction is like it is.

He has a degree in writing for film and a Masters in medieval history. Veteran is his first novel but he is patiently waiting for one of the 2.5 scripts that have been optioned to be turned into films.

He likes to travel and dive when he can afford it and in his free time he enjoys getting the s**t kicked out of him whilst practicing Silat. He is hoping that the book does well so he can buy a motorbike.

– He should not be approached after 8pm at conventions.

– It is true that he has never seen the Great Escape.

– His power animal is also a penguin.

Find Gavin G. Smith:

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