Airship Ambassador: Hi Theresa, after a long delay, entirely of my own doing I’m sad to say, it’s great to spend some time with you over tea for a chat.
Theresa Meyers: It’s just lovely to be here. Thanks for the invitation to tea, Kevin.
AA: Your new book, The Slayer, was released on April 3rd. What is the story all about?
TM: It’s the second in a series called The Legend Chronicles about three brothers, Winchester, Remington and Colt, who are all supernatural hunters in the out to save the world by finding and putting together the scattered pieces of the Book of Legend. Along the way each of them finds they need a supernatural to accomplish their mission. The way I’ve been able to describe it best was if you mashed the television show Supernatural together with Wild Wild West and then added a dash of Indiana Jones. The Hunter is Colt’s book and The Slayer is Winchester’s book. Here’s what the backcover of The Slayer says:
Brothers Winchester, Remington and Colt know the legends—they were trained from childhood to destroy demon predators, wielding the latest steam-powered gadgetry. It’s a devil of a job. But sometimes your fate chooses you. . .
Winn Jackson isn’t interested in hunting nightmares across the Wild West—even if it’s the family business. Unlike his rakehell brothers, Winn believes in rules. As sheriff of Bodie, California, he only shoots actual law breakers. That’s what he’s doing when he rescues the Contessa Drossenburg, Alexandra Porter, a lady with all the elegance of the Old World—grace, beauty and class. And then he sees her fangs.
Alexandra isn’t just some bloodsucking damsel in distress, though. She’s on a mission to save her people—and she’s dead certain that Winn’s family legacy is the only way. Luckily, aside from grace and class, she also has a stubborn streak a mile wide. So like it or not, Winn is going to come back with her to the mountains of Transylvania, and while he’s at it, change his opinions about vampires, demon-hunting, and who exactly deserves shooting. And if she has her way, he’s going to do his darnedest to save the world. . .
AA: Beauty, stubbornness, and fangs, sounds like Winn is in for a challenge. What was the motivation for creating the Legend Chronicles series? And why write them as a steampunk story?
TM: Sometimes when I write stories I only get brief hints to begin with. Back in 1998 I had the idea for these brothers. I knew the eldest was a law man, the middle one an attorney and the youngest an outlaw and that they were all named after their father’s favorite guns. What I didn’t know was what held them together. I put the series idea away and kept writing. Fast forward ten years and I was now writing contemporary paranormal stories for several different publishers. I kept finding myself wanting to go back to my historical writing roots. That’s when it all kind of pulled together. They were supernatural hunters. But in order to be able to hunt supernaturals, you’d need something than just your average weapons, and I couldn’t see it being merely magical. My love of Victoriana sort of merged with my paranormal writing and out of that grinder came my steampunk heroes, ready to battle Darkin and save the world.
AA: What brought you to steampunk? How did your interest and involvement start?
TM: I was actually interested in Victoriana since I was a child. I’m actually the progeny of a mad scientist (who worked for NASA) and a bibliophile with a tea addiction. Other nine-year olds would ask their mother for a calendar featuring kittens or puppies or perhaps even Barbie. I wanted the one that had Victorian house plans. The paper dolls I wanted were the Victorian Fashion Paper Dolls from Harper’s Bazar 1867-1898. And when my mother required that I sew my own formals in high school dances, several of them ended up looking distinctly Victorian in style including bustles and long sleeves. I live in a new Victorian house. I’ve always been a maker. I sew, I paint, I write, I sketch, I build. I adore hats and am a tea lover, but I didn’t realize that these varied interests blended together actually had a name until I went to Steampunk University in Seattle one weekend. It was this blaze of clarity. This is steampunk. What I like, what I indulge in, actually has a name! So while my involvement in the actually community has been fairly new, my love for steampunk has been life-long.
AA: That’s a common refrain from many steampunks – we’ve had an interest in on aspect or another long before we found there was a name for the community and collection of expressions. Authors often talk about how elements of their own lives, the reality and the dreams, make their way into their stories. How did this play into The Hunter and The Slayer?
TM: I actually lived in Arizona for nearly a decade. It’s a beautiful place, but everything is dramatic – the mountains, the piercing blue of the cloudless sky, the desert, heck even the plants! So a lot of what I felt and experienced in terms of atmosphere and scenery went into describing those scenes in The Hunter and The Slayer. I also visited Bodie, California on a family trip when I was a child and was completely enthralled. It’s in a state of arrested decay, a ghost-town that looks like everyone just evaporated and left the dishes on the table and the cans on the shelves. And while I’ve ridden horses, I’ve never had to hunt down a supernatural being, so that part’s all out of my imagination!
AA: What kind of back story is there for The Slayer which didn’t make it into the final book?
TM: Well, there’s an entire history to the Legion of Hunters, which is wafting about in the background. I actually wrote up the entire scene where the Book of Legend is originally split apart in the Dark Ages by the three brothers who originally hacked it to bits and deliberately separated the pieces to the “furthest reaches of the globe”. The date and placement of the event happened because of an enormous earthquake recorded at the time. (Ah research!) There’s also an entire sub-story going on with their inventor friend Marley Turlock that seems to be coming out in drips and drabs within the stories, but may eventually find itself written into its own novella. At the same time I’m aware of what’s also going on in the back of my mind with the other groups of Hunters scattered around the globe. It’s really an entire world all in my head.
AA: The Hunter was Book One of the Legend Chronicles; The Slayer was Book Two; what’s coming in Book Three, The Chosen?
TM: That will be the middle brother’s story. Remington is an attorney and is paired up with a shape-shifting thief named China McGee to find the last third of the Book of Legend. They are following a map that leads them deep into the jungles and into the heart of the Mayan hell, and ultimately must face a daring escape to return to the land of the living and reunite the Book in time to prevent the destruction of humanity.
AA: When I get my young nieces and nephews to read The Slayer someday, what would you like for them to take away from the story, Winchester Jackson and his brothers that they could apply to their own lives?
TM: All of us are capable of more than we realize. Sometimes it just takes the right nudge to accept that you have it within yourself to do great things and change the world.
AA: What kind of research, and then changes, went into creating world of The Legend Chronicles? What was your vision for this world?
TM: I always do research for my stories. I researched not only the historical rail lines that ran through Arizona, but also the town of Bodie, California, that I visited when I was a child. I researched the Lost Dutchman Goldmine, and the town of Tombstone. I looked at books on historical weapons, law procedure and thumbed through books like A Dictionary of the Old West by Peter Watts and Wild and Wooly, An Encyclopedia of the Old West to help me get terms correct. I researched Tesla coils, clockwork mechanics and mythology from all across the globe to create my supernatural beings.
AA: Research like that is always valuable to lay the groundwork for the story and create an authentic feel. What elements, steampunk or not, did you include so readers could feel the history?
TM: I included small details that would likely get overlooked when I described things. The layout of Allen Street in Tombstone, the name of the stagecoach line they would have taken. The details of who was related to the Lost Dutchman Goldmine and how Jacob Waltz described its location. I also did research on the catacombs running beneath the streets of Paris, looked at historic maps of Europe to determine a flight path, and then of course there was the research on clothing!
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