Interview with Author Kate Heartfield, Part 2

Welcome back for the conclusion in our chat with Kate Heartfield, author of The Seven O’Clock Man, which is part of the steampunk anthology, Clockwork Canada.

Read part one here.


Airship Ambassador: What elements did you specifically include so readers could feel the The Seven O’Clock Man history?

Kate Heartfield: When I think of this story, I get a clear image in my mind of the opening scene of the story, of Jacques carrying his lantern as people threw food at him from the windows above, of the hard packed earth of the town square beneath his feet. I wrote that scene before I had any other elements of the story firm in my head, and I hope it carries the reader right into Jacques’ world as it did for me.


AA: How long did it take to write, and rewrite, The Seven O’Clock Man? What were the deadlines and publishing schedule like for you?

KH: Some stories come more easily than others. This was one of the hard ones. I struggled and struggled to figure out how I wanted the plot to work. It went through several rewrites and a couple of rounds of feedback from critique partners, and then finally I had a version I was happy with. That coincided with the call for submissions to Clockwork Canada, which seemed like fate: I can’t imagine a more suitable home for this story.


AA: Every author I’ve talked with has a different journey to seeing their works in print. What have your publishing experiences been like?

KH: I’ve always written fiction. About 15 years ago, I started to publish a few non-speculative stories in literary journals, but I was most interested in writing novels – I have a trunk full of novels, most of which will never see the light of day. In 2007, I had the fortune to be mentored by the novelist Paul Quarrington, who died tragically young a few years later, through the Humber creative writing by correspondence program. A few years ago, I got serious about writing short speculative fiction, and have had more than 20 stories published in anthologies and in pro markets such as Strange Horizons and Escape Pod since 2013. In 2014, I signed with my agent, Jennie Goloboy. This year, I wrote a novella called “The Course of True Love”, part of the Monstrous Little Voices collection of Shakespearean fantasy from Abaddon Books.


AA: How are new readers finding you – conventions, website, word of mouth, etc?

KH: This year, I’m staying close to home, which is Ottawa, Canada. I’ll be at Ad Astra in Toronto for the launch of Clockwork Canada. I’ll be at Prose in the Park in Ottawa in June, and in Kingston, Ontario in July for the Limestone Genre Expo. Then I’ll be at Can-Con in Ottawa in September. I have a story coming in May in Lackington’s Magazine: that one is called “The Automatic Prime Ministers”, but it doesn’t have automata in it! My website is and I’m always on Twitter at @kateheartfield.


AA: Have you been on book tours and to conventions? What has that been like, and the fan reaction?

KH: I try to get to WorldCon at least once every few years, and to other bigger conventions such as World Fantasy. It’s a great help to me to meet other writers and fans.


AA: How is Ottawa for writing? Does location matter for resources, access, publicity, etc

KH: Ottawa has a great writing community, especially when it comes to science fiction and fantasy. I’m a member of a writers group called the East Block Irregulars, and have been a member of the board of the Ottawa International Writers Festival. In-person connections are important, but these days, I connect with the rest of fandom and with other writers online quite a bit. Ottawa also has several wonderful editors: Bundoran Press is here, for example, and I mentioned Lackington’s, above.


AA: You are one of the participating mentor editors of The Op Ed Project. What drew you to that organization and how has the experience been? What have the benefits been both for yourself and your mentees?

KH: As an editor, I was very concerned with addressing the gender gap in opinion writing: men write and submit far more often than women do. I saw it in the submissions that I received. I became involved with The Op Ed Project after writing about their programs, and I still mentor writers with them. It’s helped me learn how to give constructive feedback and to explain why something isn’t working, and to spot bad habits in my own writing.


AA: If you weren’t an author and editor, what else would you be doing now?

KH: I always wanted to be an archaeologist, and I regret that I didn’t pursue that. I seem to have planted the idea in my six-year-old’s head, so maybe one day I’ll get to live vicariously through him.


AA: Most of the authors I’ve talked with have some type of day job and that writing is their other job. What has that situation been for you and how has it helped/hindered begin a published writer?

KH: I recently quit my day job as a newspaper editor, so I’m spending more time on fiction than I used to – or at least, more time during daylight hours. But I still freelance as a writer and editor, so there are never enough hours in the day.


AA: There’s only so much time in a day – what interests don’t you have time for?

KH: I don’t watch a lot of TV. I am very lazy about exercise, so I recently invested in a treadmill desk, which helps.


AA: Three quick-fire random questions – what is your favorite artwork, food on a hot summer day, and radio show?

KH: My favorite artwork changes all the time. These days I am into anything by Elizabeth Vigée le Brun. There is an ice cream shop not far from our place that serves chocolate-cayenne-ginger ice cream. I don’t have a favorite radio show, but my favorite podcast these days is Tea and Jeopardy.


AA: Any final thoughts to share with our readers

KH: I’m really thrilled to be in this anthology with some of my favorite writers, and I admire the way the editor, Dominik Parisien, approached the steampunk aesthetic and themes and used them to examine Canadian culture and history in a new way. The list of titles alone is a work of art.


Thanks, Kate, for joining us for this interview and for sharing all of your thoughts.  We look forward to hearing about your next projects!


Keep up to date with Kate’s latest news on her website.

You can support Kate and our community by getting your copy of Clockwork Canada here.

Published in: on May 24, 2016 at 8:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Interview with Author Kate Heartfield

This week we are talking with Kate Heartfield, author of The Seven O’Clock Man, which is part of the steampunk anthology, Clockwork Canada.


Airship Ambassador: Hi Kate, thanks for joining us for this interview.

Kate Heartfield: Very pleased to do so!


AA: You’ve been quite busy over the years as a writer, editor, and board member. Your stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Escape Pod, and Podcastle, among others. You’ve been a board member of the Ottawa International Writers Festival, and you’ve been an editor for the Ottawa Citizen. Your work has been in a few anthologies, and now The Seven O’Clock Man is part of Clockwork Canada.  What is your story about?

KH: It’s a reworking of a figure from Quebec folklore, le bonhomme sept heures. He’s a bogeyman figure. One theory (of many) about the etymology of his name is that it comes from telling kids that if they’re not in bed by seven o’clock, the bonhomme will get them.


AA: Interesting, and a great way to bring that folklore to life. Why choose steampunk as the aesthetic and feel?

KH: Because my story had its genesis with the idea of a bedtime being so rigid as to be terrifying, it led to themes about curfews and other preventive laws, about social order, about the effects of trying to create a society that runs like clockwork. So the aesthetic of steampunk, that juxtaposition of wheels and gears with the messiness of human life, the juxtaposition of autonomy and automation, came naturally. There are also themes of colonial power and racism, and much of the best steampunk tends to examine those themes with a critical lens.


AA: I agree completely. What was the motivation for creating The Seven O’Clock Man?

KH: My grandfather was a francophone from Quebec, so I’ve always wanted to write something about that part of my heritage. As an undergraduate student of political science once upon a time, I read quite a bit about the history of the clash between social/religious order and individual freedom in Quebec, so that province seemed like the place to set a story examining those themes. I also wanted to explore some aspects of Canadian history that we don’t talk about much in this country: slavery, for one. Parts of the story are loosely inspired by the real story of a slave named Angélique who was accused of setting a fire in Montreal. She was tortured and executed in 1734.


AA: What can you share with us about the main character, Jacques?

KH: Jacques is a father, first and foremost. He’s a loving husband. And he’s the clock-winder in the (made-up) town called Lagarenne. Jacques is a Mohawk who was taken by the French governor as a “ward” and brought up in a manner that would later be called “killing the Indian in the child.” I spent some time in the Mohawk nation of Kahnawake when I was in grad school, doing research for my master’s project, and I wanted to honor the incredible history of the Mohawk people in some small way in this story.


AA: There’s plenty of history there, to tell. It would be great to see more of your stories which share that. Are there any objects or things which play a major role in telling the story?

KH: The main device in my story is the Clock that sits in the town square in Lagarenne, and the automata associated with it.


AA: What are some of the interesting and important details within the world of The Seven O’Clock Man?

KH: One aspect I found interesting to write was the attitude of the town toward the Clock-winder, who maintains the brutal social order imposed on Lagarenne. In many ways, it’s similar to the way some societies viewed executioners: as necessary figures, but taboo or despicable. I was trying to join together the way we use mythological figures (the bogeyman, and even Santa or Krampus) to impose order through fear, and the way we ask human beings to do the same.


AA: Without giving spoilers, what interesting things will readers find along the way?

KH: This is a steampunk fantasy story, so there is a layer of magic in the world-building.


AA: How did elements of your own life and experiences play into The Seven O’Clock Man?

KH: I’ve mentioned a few already, but another aspect of this story is the mental illness of one of the characters. For most of my life, I’ve lived with close family members who had mental illness of one kind or another, so the way that Jacques copes with that – and doesn’t always succeed — is in some ways a reflection on my own struggles to be the person that my loved ones need me to be. I suppose the fact that I’m a parent, and always trying to get the balance right between rules and freedom for my own kid – especially when it comes to bedtime! – played a role too.


AA: What kind of back story is there for The Seven O’Clock Man which didn’t make it into the final version?

KH: I mentioned the story of Angélique: Most of that story didn’t make it intact into The Seven O’Clock Man, so I’d encourage readers to look it up if they’re interested.


AA: Are there any plans for a more stories in this world?

KH: Not at the moment, but you never know! I have a feeling there are many secrets in Lagarenne.


AA: I’m definitely hoping for more! When people read The Seven O’Clock Man, what would you like for them to take away from the story and the characters that they could apply to their own lives?

KH: Like most writers, I’m interested in posing questions for the reader to ponder. I hope The Seven O’Clock Man succeeds in posing questions about individual autonomy, criminal law, community and scapegoating, all of which are as central to our lives as citizens as they were to the people of 18th century Quebec.


AA: What kind of research, and then balance, went into creating the The Seven O’Clock Man world?

KH: I read far too much about 18th-century clocks. I also read quite a bit about the history of slaves and indigenous “wards” in early Quebec. Most of that is only there as background, but I needed to do the research.


We’ll stop here in our chat with Kate. Join us next time when she talks about elements of The Seven O’Clock Man, the writing process, and working to close the gender gap in opinion writing.

Keep up to date with Kate’s latest news on her website.

You can support Kate and our community by getting your copy of Clockwork Canada here.

Published in: on May 23, 2016 at 6:34 pm  Comments (1)  
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Interview with Author Terri Favro, Conclusion

Welcome back for the conclusion in our chat with Terri Favro, author of Let Slip the Sluicegates of War, Hydro-Girl, which is a story in the steampunk anthology, Clockwork Canada.

Read part one here.

Read part two here.

Read part three here.



Airship Ambassador: Most of the authors I’ve talked with have some type of day job and that writing is their other job. What has that situation been for you and how has it helped/hindered begin a published writer?

Terri Favro: As I mentioned, I’m a copywriter for the marketing and advertising industries, and I’ve also written content for magazines and newspapers, both print and online. Those disciplines have made me a better writer, I think. You have to be economical with wording and consistently interesting. You also have to be able to withstand criticism and frequent rewrites. I think my day job has helped me more than hindered me, although of course it gets in the way of my real writing when I have to juggle tight deadlines. That’s just life.


AA: Looking beyond steampunk, writing and working, what other interests fill your time?

TF:  I like to spend my free time being physically active because writing is so sedentary.  Biking, hiking and long urban walks energize me, and also give me time to mull over stories. When I’m not doing that, I enjoy hanging out with my family –– my husband Ron Edding, our sons and their partners, and our extended families on both sides. We throw good parties, which has also helped me develop my aforementioned bartending skills. Oh, and I love music. I’ve given up on ever being a decent piano player but sitting and listening to music is a pleasure only rivaled by reading or hiking at Lake Superior.


AA: That’s plenty to keep you busy! How do those interests influence your work?

TF: I like to keep my characters in movement, showing them in active, physical situations. I want my characters to move through space; my stories are usually as external as they are internal. They are about characters who acting and doing, as well as thinking and being.


AA: There’s only so much time in a day – what interests don’t you have time for?

TF: Television. I just don’t watch it. One day, I’ll binge watch every show my friends and family keep telling me I’ll love. It’s a long list. It’s not that I have anything against TV, but given how much time I spend on writing, something has to go.


AA: It’s amazing how much time television, and social media, can consume if we let it. What other fandoms are you part of (as a fan or participant) ?

TF:  I love: comic books, especially DC (Superman and Wonder Woman in particular); The Big Lebowski; anything related to The Godfather films, except Godfather III, which was painfully bad; the Alien quadrilogy; Bruce Springsteen; the American Splendor graphic novels by Harvey Pekar and various artist-collaborators; MAD magazine; and Star Trek, especially The Original Series, some of the original films of TOS, and the reboot films. I enjoy humming the Star Trek “fight music”, “Spock in love music”, and the “Kirk tugging on his boots after sleeping with a blue skinned alien music”.


AA: So, plenty more to keep you busy and occupied :)  Are there people you consider an inspiration, role model, or other motivating influence?

TF:  My grandfather, Giovanni-Battista Favro, was a storyteller, mostly of dark fairytales from the mountains of northern Italy where he came from. He once told me that when they were snowed in in mountain passes for long periods of time, being able to construct stories was a way to keep their minds occupied –– to stay connected and sane in a stressful environment. In its way, for my Nonno, storytelling was as much a survival skill as being able to stay warm or find food. I’ve always liked that image of the storyteller as a craftsperson. I believe that storytelling is a fundamental part of being human. Nonno was the first storyteller in my life, so he was my first role model.


AA: What event or situation has had the most positive impact in your life? What has been your greatest challenge?

TF: I chose a very good life partner. My husband, Ron Edding, is a visual artist, and we collaborate on comic books, with a graphic novel almost completed and several more in the planning stages. We’ve also done some experimental film work together. For me, having a partner in life, marriage, childraising and art is just about the perfect situation, both emotionally and creatively. I highly recommend it –– if writing is important to you, it helps to live with and love someone who shares your passion for creation.


AA: Three quick-fire random questions – what is your favorite stone, food spice, and city you haven’t been to yet?

TF: Opals. Fresh Basil. Berlin.


AA: Any final thoughts to share with our readers

TF:  It’s an honour to be part of the strong group of writers who contributed to this book. I hope you’ll read Clockwork Canada!


Thanks, Terri, for joining us for this interview and for sharing all of your thoughts.  We look forward to hearing about your next projects!


Keep up to date with Terri Favro’s latest news on her website.

You can support Terri and our community by getting your copy of Clockwork Canada here.

Published in: on May 18, 2016 at 6:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

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