Charles Soule is a very busy guy.
A musician, attorney and the New York Times bestselling author of numerous comics titles for Marvel, DC, Image and other publishers, with over 2.2 million individual comics sold in 2017 alone, Soule decided to expand into prose with his first novel, The Oracle Year.
Knowledge is power. So when an unassuming Manhattan bassist named Will Dando awakens from a dream one morning with 108 predictions about the future in his head, he rapidly finds himself the most powerful man in the world. Protecting his anonymity by calling himself the Oracle, he sets up a heavily guarded Web site with the help of his friend Hamza to selectively announce his revelations. In no time, global corporations are offering him millions for exclusive access, eager to profit from his prophecies.
He’s also making a lot of high-powered enemies, from the President of the United States and a nationally prominent televangelist to a warlord with a nuclear missile and an assassin grandmother. Legions of cyber spies are unleashed to hack the Site—as it’s come to be called—and the best manhunters money can buy are deployed not only to unmask the Oracle but to take him out of the game entirely. With only a handful of people he can trust—including a beautiful journalist—it’s all Will can do to simply survive, elude exposure, and protect those he loves long enough to use his knowledge to save the world.
Charles took time out of his very busy schedule to discuss the book, his influences and what he has coming up.
* * * * *
FOG!: What was the genesis of The Oracle Year?
Charles Soule: Ultimately, it was rooted in a question from my earliest days of trying to create a career for myself as a professional writer. I was putting a ton of effort in that direction, alongside many, many other commitments, and I had no guarantees that it would ever work out. No one does, right? I would have given a great deal to be able to ask an Oracle-type individual with knowledge of the future just one question: “Will this ever work out for me?” I figured many people probably have a question like that, their one big question, and it seemed, to me, like it might make a good seed for a novel. And here we are!
For those unfamiliar with your work, before you started writing comics, you worked (and continue to work) as an attorney and you’re also a musician. Now, you’ve had your first novel published. How are you able to find the time to do everything (including write several comics a month) and if you could only have time to do one thing, which would you choose?
It’s more than several comics – I’m currently working on seven major projects, some announced, some not. That will be reduced a bit soon (seven is too much), but yes, I stay very busy. I just get the work done – there’s no big secret to it. For example, today’s Saturday as I type this, and I worked for a few hours this morning, took a break to see a movie, and now I’m working again in the afternoon. I do try to balance my time to some degree, because I think constant work is unhealthy, but I also really enjoy it. I like the work, I like telling stories. That makes it easier. If I could do one thing at a high level of success and income? It’d probably be music, which I still do a lot… but writing hit first, and it’s not like that’s a bad thing, right?
I loved The Oracle Year. What was one of the more interesting facts that you discovered during research?
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I’ve been truly thrilled and amazed with the reaction to the book. It seems to be having this great word-of-mouth buzz, which is fantastic, because it’s translating into sales, which means I’ll get to do another one, and hopefully another, and another…
As far as an interesting research fact, oh, there are tons. Researching a novel is a constant, endless cascade of facts, some of which make it into the book and many more of which do not. I did learn quite a bit about the Deep and Dark Webs and software security – which can be boiled down to the essential fact that we don’t really have much software security. It’s a scary old world out there, depending on what rocks you decided to look beneath.
One of the book’s most interesting characters is The Coach, a ruthless fixer and grandmother type. Are there any plans to revisit Will Dando or The Coach in another story?
I don’t know if I’ll do a sequel to The Oracle Year. It depends on interest, sales, etc. I will say that the book was designed from the beginning not to answer every question readers might have, but also be a complete experience despite that fact. I do have a sequel idea, and it does involve the Coach (and Will, the Oracle of the title who gets a hundred and eight specific visions of the future and has to decide how or if he’ll release them to the world), but I also don’t know if it ever needs to be told. We’ll see. I’ve got lots of stories to tell – my next book relates to an entirely different subject.
Who or what have been the biggest influences on your work?
Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Neal Stephenson, China Mieville, Dan Simmons, Brad Meltzer, Stephen King and more. I think those folks are all just breathtakingly good, and I hope someday I write a book that gets even a little close to what they’ve been able to do.
What else do you have coming up?
Lots of additional work for Marvel Comics, including returning Wolverine to life (after killing him with the amazing Steve McNiven back in 2014), Star Wars stories, the next novel, my creator-owned series Curse Words with artist/partner Ryan Browne for Image Comics, and much more. As you noted, I don’t take a lot of time off.
In your comics work, you’ve written Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Swamp Thing, The X-Men, Wolverine, The Inhumans, Lando Calrissian, Darth Vader, She-Hulk, and Daredevil. Which character that you haven’t written yet would you love to take a chance at?
Oh, I don’t really think about that too much. Maybe Luke Skywalker, Captain America or Wonder Woman. I also have a fun Hourman story. Honestly, though, I’m lucky that I get to do the work I do.
What are you currently geeking out over?
I just read N.K. Jemisin’s Shattered Sky trilogy and really enjoyed it. The Three-Body Problem trilogy by Liu Cixin is stunning. I’ve been playing Subnautica when I get a spare minute, and I really enjoyed the RBG film, a documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Legion is great, as is Westworld. There’s a ton, though. It’s a great time for thoughtful, interesting entertainment.
The Oracle Year is now available in print, digital and audio editions