Read Part One here.
Airship Ambassador: How did elements of your own life make their way into the story?
Lev AC Rosen: Every character is a reflection of me – even the nasty ones. I think that holds true for every writer, though. More specifically, I’m queer, like Ashton, and Jewish, like Miriam, and I think those are important things to talk about in Victorian London – the disenfranchised. In fact, one of my favorite moments in the book, and one that feels a lot like me critiquing myself, is when Fiona tells Violet that what she’s doing is a boon for rich, smart girls everywhere – the idea that Violet is fighting for acceptance based on her sex… but there are people who have a lot more to prove than she does.
AA: One thing you’ve mentioned in other reviews and interviews is that this is not a YA book, although one would understand why people would think that. What have people’s reactions been when they knew that, versus those who didn’t?
LR: Well, those who don’t know often send me emails saying that my book is inappropriate for children. I think it’s fine for high schoolers, generally, but YA can sometimes reach younger than that, and I don’t think the parent of a 7th grader wants their kids reading about vibrators. In fact, I’m fairly sure of it, because of those emails.
AA: What kind of backstory is there for All Men of Genius which didn’t make it into the final book?
LR: I have some deleted scenes up on my website, but you have to earn the passwords – maybe you can figure them out, though. But I can tell you, in brief, two of them were alternate versions of each other – a scene which was just totally cut by the end – wherein Jack pulls a prank. One with bees, and one with bunnies. I just felt like Jack hadn’t earned his reputation as a prankster. My editor disagreed, and once we cut the scene, everything worked much better. The other two scenes were Fiona based. I love Fiona, but these two scenes made her seem borderline insane, one where she climbed down a chimney, and another where she plays with matches. They weren’t really moving the plot forward, and while they were sort of funny, they were also, like I said, insane. And Fiona is strange, but not a pyromaniac.
AA: Are there any plans for a sequel or spinoff?
LR: Not right now. I mean, I wouldn’t rule it out, I love the world, I have ideas, but it’s not my focus right now.
AA: When readers finish the book, what would you like for them to take away from the story and the characters that they could apply to their own lives?
LR: I’d like them to take away a certain open-mindedness – the idea that everyone has a story which maybe you can’t see and is making them who they are at the moment. Also the idea that not everyone is equal and that if you want something you have to fight for it.
AA: What are some memorable fan reactions to All Men of Genius which you’ve heard about?
LR: There’s been a lot of great fan art. I try to post it all on my blog or tumblr or twitter. That’s pretty exciting. And I’ve been told that there’s some slash fanfiction involving Dr. Who, which is sort of beyond my wildest dreams.
AA: If you weren’t an author, what else would you be doing now?
LR: Architect, maybe, if I were better at math.
AA: What do you do to keep a balance between book, art, and tour life, and the rest of your life?
LR: I keep a fairly precise schedule – right down to the day. I have a daily to-do list, which has stuff like “write scene with motorcycle” or whatever, right alongside “groceries” and “interview with Airship Ambassador.” Just keeping organized, and making sure you know what you can accomplish in a day – that’s the important part. That, and keeping to it.
This is the end of part two in our chat with Lev AC Rosen.
Join us next time for the conclusion when Lev talks about his other interests and influences.
Get your copy of All Men of Genius today