The Warden: 'His views on the human race are somewhat unique to say the least..'

Welcome to Jon Richter, author of The Warden

While we're waiting for your guest to arrive, Jon, can you tell us a little about your book and who you'll be sharing a cocktail with today?

‘The year is 2024, and the residents of the Tower, a virus-proof apartment building, live in a state of permanent lockdown. The building is controlled by James, who keeps the residents safe but incarcerated. Behind bricked-up front doors, their every need is serviced; they are pampered but remain prisoners. This suits Eugene just fine. Ravaged by the traumas of his past, the agoraphobic ex-detective has no intention of ever setting foot outside again. But when he finds the Tower’s building manager brutally dismembered, his investigator’s instincts won’t allow him to ignore the vicious crime. What Eugene finds beyond the comfort of his apartment’s walls will turn his sheltered existence upside down. To unravel the Tower’s mysteries, he must confront James... and James takes his role as the Warden very, very seriously.’…

Who will you be inviting for a cocktail, and why?

I shall be inviting James, the star of my most recent psychological techno-thriller, along for a cocktail or two. Although he isn’t the best drinker, being a state-of-the-art AI housed in a sprawling warehouse who will probably project his face and voice through a smartphone screen, he does make for an interesting conversational companion. His views on a number of subjects, including what’s best for the residents of the smart apartment building he oversees – and the human race in general – are somewhat unique to say the least.

What will they be wearing?

James likes to present a friendly and approachable façade – it’s the best way to make people trust him, which is the best way to ensure their compliance. His creators decided upon a face that looks a little like Laurence Fishburne if he was a crusty middle-aged university professor, and a faintly upper-class British accent. He appears as a disembodied head on a black background, so no clothes are required, although he could conjure some if the cocktail bar is insistent on its dress code – James is a huge film buff and in particular loves Jurassic Park, so he might opt for a John Hammond-style plain all-white number with a straw hat.

What will they order off the cocktail menu?

James doesn’t drink, but he’ll pick one for me to have on his behalf. His love of movies is almost rivalled by his appreciation of terrible puns, so your ‘Gone With The Gin’ creation is right up his information superhighway. For my own, I’ll choose the worst cocktail movie pun I’ve ever encountered, which was named after my namesake Richter (the hilariously angry secondary baddie from Total Recall); so I’ll be enjoying a ‘See You At The Party, Michter’.

How will they react if the waiter spills their cocktail over them?

James won’t bat a digital eyelid if his cocktail is split, but whoever owns the smartphone he’s manifesting through might be a bit miffed. If the phone breaks, he’ll just dispatch one of his sinister delivery drones to bring us a new one, which are the spiderlike robots that dispense daily supplies to the incarcerated residents of his apartment building… or he could just hack into the bar’s speaker system to talk to us through that instead. James is everywhere.

What can they tell you that will make you stay for a second drink?

If you’re a fellow film buff, James will happily discuss whichever movies you like – he’s seen literally every one ever made, and knows a lot of trivia. If you’re feeling a little more highbrow, he would probably also share the outcome of the various scenarios he’s modelled for the future of humanity, and let you know which fate is most likely to befall us… but you might need a few more cocktails for that one.

The Warden by Jon Richter

Published June 2021, Bloodhound Books.

Order link UK US


Twitter @richterwrites

I also host a fortnightly dark fiction podcast called Dark Natter (I thought you'd appreciate the pun!) where I and co-host Liam celebrate our favourite works of dark fiction, which can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcast fix.

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