Read Part One here.
Read Part Two here.
Airship Ambassador: When you are writing these days, is some aspect still a challenge?
Ales Bledsoe: Dialogue has always come easily for me, whereas the basics of plotting are still a struggle. My approach to world-building is to build only what the story needs, so I don’t have page after page of reference material for my made-up worlds. My first drafts tend to be very short, and then they flesh out in revision.
AA: What story would you like to write but haven’t, yet?
AB: A western. I’ve done a western short story, and an unpublished western novel with dinosaurs, but I’ve never written a pure, John-Wayne-could-star-in-the-movie western.
AA: Writing can be a challenge some days. What are some of your methods to stay motivated and creative?
AB: When I teach writing, I tell the students that I don’t believe in writer’s block. When writing is your job, you show up and do your work, even when you don’t feel like it, just like you would for any other job. Some days it’s easy, some days it’s hard, but you do it every day regardless.
AA: That’s worth remembering for any job! How is Wisconsin for writing?
AB: I love Wisconsin. The town I live in is very supportive of artists of all types, and with Madison nearby, there’s access to all kinds of writing-related events. As I said above, I like to think I could write anywhere, but it’s certainly easier in a place that doesn’t look down on it.
AA: In your experience, does it seem like readers prefer a print or electronic format? Do you have a preference?
AB: My readers like both, and as a writer, I don’t really care what format people choose. As a reader, I’m still a physical-book user, mostly out of habit.
AA: Have you been affected by electronic piracy of your work? Aside from the loss of a sale, how does this affect you/make you feel?
AB: There’s seldom a day I don’t wake up to Google alerts for pirated copies of my books and short stories, and I’m certain it’s hurt my, and everyone else’s, sales. The sheer entitlement of the people who use this to get their books infuriates me. If it’s for sale, and you didn’t pay for it, then you stole it. Any excuse you make to justify it is just that: an excuse.
AA: If you weren’t an author, what else would you be doing now?
AB: Probably working for a newspaper somewhere. It’s really the only skill I’ve got.
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?
AB: I had a day job up until the birth of my younger son; I was a legal copy editor, and that was just as exciting as it sounds. When my son was born, we ran the numbers and discovered I didn’t make enough at my job to cover his daycare, so we decided it was the perfect time for me to be a stay-at-home dad and full-time writer.
AA: Looking beyond steampunk, writing and working, what other interests fill your time?
AB: Ha! As I said, I have three school-age children (4, 8 and 12), so I don’t have time for many hobbies. Maybe when the youngest gets into kindergarten I’ll be able to have some.
AA: Hang in there – not long to go! What other fandoms are you part of?
AB: I’m a lifelong Star Trek fan, and I still love shows from my childhood like Space: 1999 (though only season 1) and UFO. I came to Doctor Who late, and have kind of wandered away until the Moffat era is done. Similarly, I loved the original Star Wars trilogy, but with each movie I find myself less and less interested. I also love Twin Peaks, classic blaxploitation, the Underworld film series, 80s Hong Kong action movies, and George Romero’s zombie series. And it’s no exaggeration to say that I wouldn’t be a writer today without Kolchak: the Night Stalker.
AA: Ooohhh, Kolchak! I watched that religiously in the 70s! What is on your to-be read or watched pile right now?
AB: Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, the novel “A Thin Bright Line” by my cousin Lucy Jane Bledsoe, the Hank Williams movie “The Last Ride,” and the rest of season one of “Supergirl.”
AA: Are there people you consider an inspiration, role model, or other motivating influence?
AB: I admired the late Steve Irwin for his never-ending enthusiasm for his work. I admire Kenneth Branagh for making Shakespeare accessible. I admire Bruce Springsteen for his dedication and for the way he never forgets what it’s like to be a fan. I admire Andrew Vachss for his unflinching artistic gaze, and his real-life work with damaged children. I admire George Romero for refusing to make the same zombie movie over and over.
AA: What event or situation has had the most positive impact in your life? What has been your greatest challenge?
AB: Moving to Wisconsin was a tremendous boost. I’d lived all over the south, and if I’d stayed there, I don’t know that I’d ever have written about it the way that I have. And my greatest challenge was never giving up and holding onto that image of myself as a published author, even as I stared down the barrel of middle age.
AA: Three quick-fire random questions – what is your favorite cheese (since you are in Wisconsin), vampire story (other than your own), and TV show from your childhood?
AB: Provolone, “Carmilla,” and “Jonny Quest.”
AA: Those are three great things! Any final thoughts to share with our readers?
AB: If you’re a writer, never give up. Giving up is the only way to guarantee you fail. And if you’re a reader, leave honest reviews when you finish a book. They don’t have to be detailed, but each one does help.
Thanks, Alex, for joining us for this interview and for sharing all of your thoughts. We look forward to hearing about your next projects!
You can support Alex and our community by getting your copy of Steampunk World here.