Welcome back to the conclusion of our talk with steampunk YA author, Arthur Slade.
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AS: Oh, my first six novels went unpublished.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).