Interview with Arthur Slade, part 2

Welcome back to the conclusion of our talk with steampunk YA author, Arthur Slade.

His Hunchback Assignment series includes The Hunchback Assignments, The Dark Deeps, Empire of Ruins and Island of Doom

Read part one here.


AA: Every author I’ve talked with has a different journey to seeing their works in print. What was your publishing experience like? Not only for this series but for your first published works, too.

AS: Oh, my first six novels went unpublished. Lucky number seven was the first, a horror novel titled Draugr. So it was a long haul that way, but I learned a lot about writing. For this series I already had an agent and it was exciting because it was the first of my books to find an international audience.


AA: What can you share with us about your latest project, the graphic novel, Modo: Ember’s End?

AS: We are about half way done. It’s been very exciting to work with Christopher Steininger (the artist). I grew up on comics, so it’s grand to see the characters come to life. I also enjoy the challenge of boiling a story down to a comic script. It’s such a different way to picture the story—panel by panel. But I’m very pleased with how it is all turning out.


AA: You have been a full time writer for quite awhile now. What kind of opportunities and restrictions have come with that?

AS: Well, I don’t think I could go back to a regular job now. Just too used to setting my own hours. There is a lot of paperwork that I didn’t foresee when I first got into this business. School tours, festivals, all of these events need to be planned around. Sometimes it’s hard to find time to write. The great thing about it is that I can take time off if family or friends come to time.


AA: For the aspiring writer, what lessons did you learn about having an agent and editor, their feedback, and your writing?

AS: Editors and agents really are the first voices that both encourage me and help me see the weaknesses in my novels. Once of the hardest things to learn in this business is how to take “suggestions” without feeling like it’s a personal attack. Now, I look forward to the edit letters.


AA: You’ve previously mentioned that you have a treadmill desk. Why did you make a move to that away from a traditional desk setup?

AS: Middle age weight gain. Honestly, that and I had been reading about the health issues of sitting down all day. The treadmill desk forces me to exercise. But I am also more alert while I’m writing and I get much more done in a day. I can’t imagine not having it now. Of course a steampowered desk would be perfect.


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

AS: Rock guitar god.


AA: What do you do to keep a balance between writing and the rest of your life?

AS: I have pretty specific hours for my writing (unless there’s a deadline) so that helps even everything out. If I could just stay away from Facebook and Twitter…


AA: Do you get to talk much with other writers and artists to compare notes, have constructive critique reviews, and brainstorm new ideas?

AS: Yes. With the advent of social media it has been a real blessing for author to author communication. I’m on a variety of listservs and groups. But I also have other authors whom I trust and will give me an honest opinion of my books. I don’t do so much brainstorming because I still prefer to steer the ship in terms of the shape of the novel.


AA: You’ve also created a number of podcasts and videos for your visitors and followers. How did that start and what feedback have you gotten?

AS: I’m just naturally curious about ways of communicating with readers (and I’m somewhat geeky, too). So I like to try out all of these different technologies. And once they’re up there they get downloaded forever. As far as feedback people continue to send me emails and have been encouraging about this aspect of my writing.


AA: Do people outside the regular reading, steampunk, and convention communities recognize you for your other books? What kind of reactions have you received?

AS: I’m finally popular in grade seven! That is a bit of a joke, but I tend to get recognized by younger readers out there. Still my favourite reaction was a high school age girl yelling across the aisle at Canadian Tire, “I loved your book TRIBES.” Then she and her friends kept walking.


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

AS: Netflix. Netflix. Netflix.  Far too much binge watching of The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad. I, of course, read a lot. And I’m a bit of a gamer, too, though mostly on my iPad these days. Tower defense games for some reason. Or hockey on the Wii.


AA: Overall, who would you count as your inspirations and motivators, and why? What is it about them or their work that makes you admire them?

AS: Ray Bradbury. Just because his work showed me how vast our imaginations could be. Stephen King because he made horror seem like it could really happen anywhere. And Guy Gavriel Kay, who turned history into something fantastical.


AA: Quick random questions – what is your favorite time of year, type of vacation, and historical location?

AS: September, Hot, Iceland’s various historical landmarks…love that place.


AA: Any final thoughts to share with our readers

AS: Just that I really appreciate the fact that there are readers out there. Sometimes we writers are so busy writing that we forget that.


Thanks so much for joining us, Arthur!

Keep up to date with Arthur’s work on his website.

In the meantime, get your copies of  The Hunchback Assignments, The Dark Deeps, Empire of Ruins and Island of Doom, and participate in the a crowdfunding campaign for Modo: Ember’s End (ends Nov 13. 2013).


Published in: on October 27, 2013 at 8:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Interview with Arthur Slade

This week we are talking with Arthur Slade, author of The Hunchback Assignments series.


Airship Ambassador: Hi Arthur, thanks for joining us for this interview. I feel like it’s long overdue since I first read The Hunchback Assignments.

Arthur Slade: You’re welcome. I’m always ready and waiting to talk about steampunk and all that!


AA: This is a series that one of my nephews enjoys. Would you share a bit what it is about?

AS: It’s the story of Modo, a young hunchback who has been trained since birth to be a secret agent for the British Empire. He does have a rather special ability, he can change his shape and look like other people. But only for a few hours at a time.


AA: There are four books now – The Hunchback Assignments, The Dark Deeps, Empire of Ruins and Island of Doom, the first of which won the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award in 2010. What was the motivation for creating the series? How did the initial idea develop?

AS: It really came from fusing two different ideas. I had been toying with a Sherlock Holmes-type series and was generally interested in Victorian times. But I just couldn’t find that “hook.” I happened to be reading The Hunchback of Notre Dame and got the idea of combining the two stories. It gave me that spark I needed.


AA: You’ve written other series in other worlds. Why steampunk for this one?

AS: I’m just fascinated with all things Victorian. But it also was a way of paying homage to writers like Verne and Wells, who started the science fiction/fantastical fiction genres. At the time I started the series I just envisioned it as a continuation of their work with my own twist, of course.


AA: Did any elements of your own life make their way into their stories? Are there any inside jokes, or references to other books, characters, or people that you admire and enjoy?

AS: I think I may have named a couple characters after band members from Iron Maiden. I also have been to London (actually researching another book) but many of the places I saw while I was there ended up becoming a part of the book. At the basic level Modo is a reader and a little shy and I suppose those are aspects that I’m drawing from my own personality.


AA: What kind of back story is there for the series which didn’t make it into the final book?

AS: Oh, the things I’ve had to cut out! Honestly, I don’t keep charts or too many notes once I’m finished a book. I did plan on having Modo visit India at some point and China…but those may come in the future, if the muse and the publishing gods are willing.


AA: Are there any plans for another series or spinoff?

AS: Yes, but in graphic novel form. We’ve just started a crowdfunding campaign for Modo: Ember’s End (ends Nov 13. 2013). It’s the story of Modo and Octavia when they strike out on their own in the wild west. It takes place in an odd town called Ember’s End. Designed by a rather mad scientist, Dr. Ember.


AA: As other young readers enjoy The Hunchback Assignments, what would you like for them to take away from the story and the characters that they could apply to their own lives?

AS: I guess at the most basic level it would be to never give up. Modo doesn’t ever give up–he may get bruised a lot but he does get things done in the end.


AA: What kind of research, and then balance, went into creating The Hunchback Assignments world?

AS: It was madness all of the research. I read so much Dickens that it was pouring out my ears. And I concentrated on historical accounts that covered both the big picture of Victorian times and the small picture (even as small as what food was popular or which dances). Everything from the music of the period to the various articles that appeared in papers at the time. That all helped me understand the Victorian mind.


AA: What elements did you include so readers could feel the reality of this world?

AS: I stuffed everything in that I could…then my editors asked me to maybe cut back in the amount of detail. So it was a real balancing act of giving just enough info so that the reader feels they are in that actual world without overpowering them. As one editor said, “the reader doesn’t want a description of every bolt in every steamship in old England.”


AA: After four books, what are some memorable fan reactions to The Hunchback Assignments which you’ve heard about?

AS: I get so many letters asking me whether Modo and Octavia will get married. I keep pointing out that they’re only fourteen and fifteen when the series starts. But I also get letters about characters who were killed off or other plotlines that I could explore. Always fun to read.


We’ll break in our talk with Arthur Slade.

Join us next time for the conclusion where Arthur talks about his writing journey and process.

Until then get your copies of  The Hunchback Assignments, The Dark Deeps, Empire of Ruins and Island of Doom

And participate in the a crowdfunding campaign for Modo: Ember’s End (ends Nov 13. 2013).

Published in: on October 20, 2013 at 4:33 pm  Comments (10)  
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Interview with Karina Cooper, part 3

Welcome back as we conclude talking with Karina Cooper, author of The St. Croix Chronicles, which includes Tarnished, Gilded, and Corroded. Karina can also be found in The Steampunk Museum.

Part One can be read here.

Part Two can be read here.


Airship Ambassador: What do you do to keep a balance between book, and tour life, and the rest of your life?

Karina Cooper: I don’t tour much, so that’s one thing off my plate. I do attend cons now and again, but even those will come and go depending on whether it’s a lean year or not.  Honestly, it really does come down to a balance between writing and real life. I’m very fortunate in that Aron understands that writing is as much a part of his wife as breathing, food, and coffee is. I try to structure my writing days so I write when he’s at work, but sometimes, deadlines mean I spend 14 hours at the computer. He’s very tolerant—and it really gives him time to play video games.

I won’t lie, though! My career comes first in a lot of things, and my few close friends really understand that, but it can be difficult. My husband and I recently attended therapy together so that we could figure out ways to get the most out of our limited time together, and it really was the best thing we’ve done. It’s a lot of work to be this busy and still make sure those around you are getting the time they need. Good marriage takes effort; I’m down for that.

I think that’s true of any couple whose jobs are demanding, though. We don’t have kids, so it really is just us to maintain a personal relationship. It’s worth it to us to make that effort, so we do. It’s not easy, but it’s rewarding. I get my words and my husband, and that’s great.


AA: Do you get to talk much with other writers and artists to compare notes, have constructive critique reviews, and brainstorm new ideas?

KC: Yes and no! I’m not much one for brainstorming and group plotting. The main reason is that my writing schedule is insane—I write four books a month, not including short stories and novellas. Nobody really has the time to keep up with me, and I don’t have a lot of extra time for reading other peoples’ work. It’s really just a question of time supply. That said, we’re always talking about the industry, the projects we’re working on and that sort of thing.

Honestly, hanging out with authors is like hanging out with your support group. Sometimes, you make headway on a project, but mostly you just reach out and touch base with people who really understand when you complain about deadlines, emails, reviews, or that sort of thing. It reminds us that we may be crazy, but we’re not alone.


AA: How have you and your work grown and changed over time?

KC: I am so not going to answer this. Primarily because I can’t—I don’t know. I mean, I’m sure I have. But ten years from now, I’ll read whatever I write here and laugh and laugh. I can’t answer this without sounding all sanctimonious and righteous, so I won’t. I have grown, I feel like I have, but I’m a long way from all grown up.

When I grow up, I want to be like Malachy McCourt, with a thousand great stories and a wicked alcohol tolerance. That’s all I know.


AA: Well, I can certainly back you up on the not-growing-up part… oops, inner voice. Anyway, how is the Pacific Northwest for writing? Does location matter for resources, access, publicity, etc. Also, I’ve heard that a move is pending in your future?

KC: The Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful places I have ever lived. It’s green and filled with wildlife and water and great people.

It’s also rainy, gray, dreary and summer is way too short.

Look, I think one of the reasons Seattle has so many writers around is because we can’t do anything else in the wet seasons—which is 340 days of the year. I know people who love it here. If it had more sun, I’d love it here, too. I love people who live here, that’s for sure.

Problem is, it’s way up in the corner of nowhere, so getting anywhere except Seattle is very expensive for con and tour travel. The cost of living is also very high, so if we ever plan on owning a house, it’s ridiculously expensive. Yes, we need a house—I can’t get a dog until we have one!

I’ve been very open about my struggle with depression, and I’m sad to say that the rainy weather only aggravates it. Unfortunately, I don’t write very well when depressed—which kind of flies in the face of every story about writers ever. So, much to my dismay—and relief—the mancandy and I will be moving in a year or so. We’re planning to move to Atlanta, GA, where we have friends and my family is close(r) to.


AA: I’ll certainly miss you both when you move to MUCH warmer climates. I’ve heard that chances of spontaneous human combustion are much higher in Atlanta. Less than Phoenix, Arizona, surely, but still great than Seattle. You’re living on the edge! And when we are on opposite coasts, it will be a harder for all of us to meet for dinner, except at conventions. Hmm, Dragon*Con… OK, back to you, you’ve written some other series, too. What are those, and have you heard from crossover readers? What kind of reactions have you received?

KC: I’ve written a paranormal romance series called the Dark Mission, which starts with Blood of the Wicked. The series takes place in a post-apocalyptic Seattle, at a time when witches are accused for the destruction of the world and a war brews between the persecuted and the order hunting them down. It’s been called “paranormal romance and urban fantasy crossover done right” by reviewers and “intensely gritty and sexy”. I have a lot of crossover readers, which I am very grateful for, and some readers exclusive to one or the other. As a rule, I find that a lot of the romance readers aren’t too happy with the lack of romance in The St. Croix Chronicles, while non-romance readers say there’s too much romance in it.

Really, both series are wildly different. The end result is that while a lot of readers seem to like both series on their own merit, you just can’t please everyone—and that’s okay. I just hope everyone has a good time reading; that’s invariably my goal!


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

KC: Uh… Um. Every single one of my hobbies involves storytelling. No lie. I read (when I can), and I play Live Action Role Playing games (which is basically storytelling). I enjoy RPG video games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect (storytelling!), and that’s about all the time I have. When my work lasts from 8am to 8 or 10 pm, there’s not a whole lot left over.

I guess that’s why they say everyone should get a job doing what they love. It’s work, don’t get me wrong, but I enjoy it!


AA: What other fandoms are you part of in some way? (as a fan or other participation)

KC: I am a terrible person. I’m not really involved in any real fandoms, more of a fringe enthusiast. Obviously, I enjoy dressing up for my live action games, and I like costuming, but I’m not really a cosplayer. I dabble in video games, but I’m not really a hardcore gamer anymore (for the Horde!), and I have friends involved in many things, but I only occasionally go play. I love steampunk, but I’m not completely saturated in it the way some of my favorite steampunks are. I love reading yaoi—I refuse to call it a guilty pleasure, since I don’t feel guilt!—and watching anime.

I don’t know if I necessarily identify with fandoms as I do with a broad “geek” interest.


AA: Oh, that is sad. Yes, you are a terrible person. It’s probably why everyone loves you so! How do those interests influence your work?

KC: Everything influences my work! I don’t know, how does oxygen fuel your brain? I get inspired by everything, anything. A word, a laugh, a look, the color of the sky when I get up in the morning, the taste of my coffee, a line in a movie. A wayward thought.

I don’t know. I’m inspired. I guess that’s a good way to be?


AA: Overall, who would you count as your inspirations and motivators?

KC: Neil Gaiman is the reason I’m writing. I was inspired by his concept of a writer’s gazebo, and upon learning about it, I decided then and there I’d be a writer so I could have one. As a person, I am inspired by his choice to live the way he chooses to live—more people need to live this way.

Terry Pratchett is the reason I’m published, inspired by a riff he made from Dorothy Parker’s classic, wherein he said, “Too many people want to have written.” I thought, Screw that, I’m gonna write! And I do. I love writing—the chaos, the deadlines, the frustration, the long hours, the edits, and pain, and all the happiness that comes with.

Cherry Adair is the reason I got published to begin with. She taught me how to plot, and made me sign a piece of paper that said I’d get the book finished, polished and sold. That book was Blood of the Wicked. It’s a debt I will never be able to repay.

My husband is my motivator. I want to make it big one day so that he can quit his job, get whatever low-impact job he wants to do for fun (so he can get out of my hair) and keep him as a “kept man”. Which is all a roundabout way of saying I write because he supports me, because he told me I could when I was sure I couldn’t, and because I hope to one day use my writing to support him. That’s how I show my love—I give things. I want to give him a life earned with creativity.


AA: Quick random questions – what is your favorite fabric, danish, and quote?

KC: Favorite fabric: silk! Especially when it’s really soft and cool.

Favorite danish: cheese! I would murder for a good cheese danish.

Favorite quote: From Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett:

God moves in extremely mysterious, not to say, circuitous ways. God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players*, to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.

Footnote to above: * ie., everybody.


AA: Yes, yes, and to repeat one of our common tweets, “All your Danish are belong to us!” LOL!

KC: Ahem. All your danish are belong to me.


AA: Any final thoughts to share with our readers

KC: Life is weird. It’s also beautiful and busy and interconnected and scary and boring and not boring, and pretty much altogether too short. So, you know, enjoy it. I really just want readers to enjoy the things I write, and if they don’t, to go read something they will enjoy.

I mean, if I could have one wish, I’d wish this: Be happy.

So, to you, my dear Ambassador, and to all your readers: may you be happy! And thanks for letting me burble for a while. I assume the bourbon is in the cabinet…?


AA: It’s behind the … well, you’ll find it.

Thanks for sharing Cherry’s story, and part of your own, with us! You are always such a delight to spend time with!

Keep up with Karina on her website, and grab a copy of her books,

Tarnished, Gilded, and Corroded.


Published in: on October 13, 2013 at 9:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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