James kindly agreed to stop by and answer some questions about his writing and his latest exciting book.
(There are also two chances to WIN A COPY of The Aylesford Skull, one of which is a limited edition signed hardcover, so be sure to check that out at the bottom of this post!)
Hi James! How does it feel to be called a ‘father of Steampunk’?
It makes me feel quite nice actually, although if I’m in fact the father (or grandfather, according to Locus magazine) then I share the honor with Tim Powers and K.W. Jeter. We were all writing Steampunkish stories and novels and hanging out together in the 1970s. I had the distinction, such as it was, to publish a Steampunk short story, and not long after that K.W. published his novel Morlock Night. K.W. also coined the word “Steampunk,” although not until 10 years later, when it had taken on the trappings of a subgenre. By that time the three of us had published a number of Steampunk novels and short stories. We were all influenced, of course, by other writers and by each other. Questions of origin are always murky. I’m happy to think that the rise of Steampunk culture, so to speak, was due to the three of us. What would have happened, I wonder, if we had been busy writing books about hedgehogs. Hedgepunk?
What is it that attracted you to Victorian England? What made it an interesting setting to write about?
One of the things I really liked about the book were the little eccentric, supernatural details, like the skull lamps, the corpse candles, the pagan graveyard buried deep under London, etc. Are any of these actual myths or stories from Victorian times, or did you invent them? What gave you the ideas for them?
I thought all your heroes seemed like very real people, each with their own little quirks. Do you ever see yourself in any of your characters?
All of my protagonists are constructed of pieces of me, so to speak, although ultimately they resemble me in over-the-top ways. Their eccentricities are inflated examples of my own eccentricities, and their weaknesses and enthusiasms are exaggerations (usually). I don’t engage in adventurous behavior, so I’m thankfully not called upon to be heroic, or to shoot people or to be shot. All that being said, in some sense I always write about what I know, and my characters are often very much related to people I’ve known or that I know, including myself. I’m fond of the quirks and oddities that differentiate us from everyone else, but I’m not fond of sword wielding heroes who have no reason to sometimes be unhappy with themselves. (Lots of weird negative constructions in that sentence, not to mention the split infinitive. Hope it makes sense.)
So I’m assuming the character Arthur Doyle is the Arthur Conan Doyle. Why did you decide to include him in the story?
|Arthur Conan Doyle|
Who are your biggest writing influences or favourite authors?
My favorite authors are most often also my biggest influences. When I was ten years old I started reading books from my mother’s library, and at that same time I began to receive books as gifts at Christmas and on birthdays from relatives who weren’t themselves readers. This deluge of books was a plot, in other words, fomented by my mother.
By the time I was thirteen I had read virtually all of the books that would become the most influential to me as a writer, and my brain was so full of Victorian and Edwardian science fiction stories that I was virtually condemned to write what became Steampunk. The biggest influence on my writing, however, were the stories and novels of Robert Louis Stevenson, which I read in my early twenties. At that same time Tim Powers gave me some P.G. Wodehouse to read, and it was this weird mixture of Stevenson and Wodehouse that inspired “The Ape-box Affair,” my first Steampunk story. My novel Homunculus was heavily influenced by Stevenson’s New Arabian Nights and by The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The Wind in the Willows (along with Huckleberry Finn) inspired The Elfin Ship, my first novel.
What do you think of where Steampunk has gone in the years since you first started writing it? Is there anything you particularly love or dislike about the Steampunk craze?
|Steampunk Jewellery (sodacrush)|
Are there any more Langdon St. Ives books to come? What’s next for you?
Thank you for stopping by James!
(Is it just me, or does anyone else kind of want Hedgepunk to be a thing?)
This Giveaway is now closed. Congrats to Katrina Day-Reilly, who won a copy of The Aylesford Skull!
I’m giving away a paperback copy of The Aylesford Skull to one lucky winner. Just fill out the rafflecopter form below and good luck! Giveaway open worldwide.
Thanks to Titan Books for providing this giveaway copy!
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