Read Part One here
Read Part Two here
Airship Ambassador: Do you get to talk much with other writers and artists to compare notes, have constructive critique reviews, and brainstorm new ideas?
Harold R. Thompson: It’s safe to say that I interact with other storytellers on a daily basis, due to the nature of my day job, and that’s great. I don’t really get to talk to other writers much, though that seems to be slowly changing. I don’t personally know many writers, believe it or not.
AA: How have you and your work grown and changed over time?
HT: I’m in the process of trying to get another novel ready for publication, and I wrote the first draft in 1999 and the final draft in 2005. As I go through it, I keep thinking, “I wouldn’t have written that today.” My interests have changed and my mind has broadened. Having a family will do that, I think.
AA: A constant sea of change for all the items vying for our attention. Writing can be a challenge some days. What are some of your methods to stay motivated and creative?
HT: I’ve never really had a problem with motivation when it comes to writing. Once I start a project, I become obsessive until it’s finished. I may stop for a while in between projects, take a rest, but then the mood will come over me and I’ll start jotting ideas. That can happen anytime, anyplace. The actual discipline of writing, of assembling those ideas, is something I’ve been doing for so long now that it’s just part of my life. Every evening I sit at the computer and I usually get some work done, even if it’s only for half an hour. I guess I trained myself.
AA: How is Nova Scotia for writing? Does location matter for resources, access, publicity, etc
HT: Nova Scotia has an old literary tradition and a fantastic and colourful history. It also has an inspiring coastal landscape. As a writer, you can live in a place like this and it doesn’t cut you off from your readers and publishers, because everything can be done through electronic communications, if you want. There are tons of resources on line.
AA: It does sound like a wonderful place to live. Do people outside the regular reading, steampunk, and convention communities recognize you for Tunnels? What kind of reactions have you received?
HT: So far, since the book has been out, aside from the steampunk fans, only my mother has said anything. Luckily, she liked the story.
AA: Yay for Moms, everywhere! If you weren’t an author, what else would you be doing now?
HT: Taking photographs or making movies. Maybe getting more exercise.
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?
HT: It’s helped in the obvious way by generating income so I can live and so continue to write. For most people, writing is not terribly lucrative. That’s just a reality. I’m also lucky in that my day job is also in a creative field and involves a subject I love, which is history, so the two jobs have a symbiotic relationship.
AA: Looking beyond steampunk, writing and working, what other interests fill your time?
HT: It’s summer, so I spend a lot of time on my mountain bike, but I also enjoy photography and video. I’d like to do more film/video, but it’s more complicated than other storytelling media because you can’t really do it on your own.
AA: How do those interests influence your work?
HT: Getting out in the woods or on the trail always makes me want to get back to doing something creative, for some reason. As for the film and photography, they mesh with my writing because I’m very visual, and imagine every scene as a scene from a movie.
AA: There’s only so much time in a day – what interests don’t you have time for?
HT: All of the above! Especially video. And sleeping. There’s never enough time for that. I’m not kidding.
AA: I hear that! More sleep would be so nice. What other fandoms are you part of?
HT: I’m a bit of a quiet fan. Of course I’m a big “history nerd,” but I’m also a long time Star Trek fan, and Star Wars. I also enjoy comics and am still a huge Batman fan, after all these years.
AA: All very good interests! Are there people you consider an inspiration, role model, or other motivating influence?
HT: I admire the work of a great many writers and artists, too many to pick just a few, I think. I will say that one of the things that really inspires me while writing is music. If I can, I play music in the background and it helps me focus. I have pretty varied tastes, but most of the time I listen to prog, hard rock, and jazz. Right now I’m really into Rush (and by “right now,” I mean for the past thirty years). So that’s a big motivator.
AA: Rush has some great music, and there’s even a steampunk book, Clockwork Angels. What event or situation has had the most positive impact in your life? What has been your greatest challenge?
HT: Having a family has had the biggest impact, and reminds me to count my blessings, which is probably my greatest challenge. Writing can be disappointing and frustrating when things don’t work out the way you hope or intend. My family helps me shrug and keep going.
AA: Three quick-fire random questions – what is your favorite sea animal, action movie, and appetizer?
HT: Sea turtle, the last fifteen minutes of Last of the Mohicans, and bacon-wrapped scallops.
AA: Any final thoughts to share with our readers?
HT: I’d like to thank those who’ve read the story and hope they enjoyed it or at least got something out of it. I never set out to write steampunk, but this anthology gave me the opportunity, and I’ve enjoyed the experience. Since then, three of the dozen or so short stories I’ve seen published in the last year have been what you would call steampunk. If there’s a steampunk bug, maybe I’ve caught it?
Thanks, Harold, 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 Harold’s latest news on his website.
You can support Harold and our community by getting your copy of Clockwork Canada here.