Interview #104 – Author Scott Wilke

This week we are talking with Scott Wilke, author of The Legend of Everett Forge.

 

Airship Ambassador: Hi Scott, welcome to the airship!

Scott Wilke: Thanks for inviting me!

AA: This is pretty exciting, the release of your first book! What is The Legend of Everett Forge about?

SW: The Legend of Everett Forge is a Weird West Steampunk tale set in an alternate 1889 where Machines control the American West. The story follows the outlaw, Everett Forge, as he ventures into the Machine territory in search of vengeance against the Machine leader, Omega.

 

AA: Ahh, a goal of revenge, man versus machine, and Wild West justice. Why choose a steampunk setting and look?

SW: To be honest, it wasn’t a conscious decision. It just kind of developed that way. The story started out in my head over a decade ago as a simple short story about an unnamed gunslinger fighting his way through a town filled with steam-powered robots. At that time, I wasn’t really familiar with Steampunk. I mean, I had a general knowledge of the aesthetic from film and books, but I didn’t realize the depth of it. I revisited the story a number of times over the following couple years adding more to the character and the backstory. After college I moved to Phoenix, AZ and when I went to my first Phoenix Comic Con it finally clicked! There was a large group of Steampunk cosplayers that I saw and I just couldn’t stop staring at them. I told my wife, “I love that look! I love the tech. It’s so cool!” It was that same day, as I’m walking around looking at all these indie comic creators that I finally said, “I need to try this!” So I went home that very night I read up on everything Steampunk I could possibly find and started work on The Legend of Everett Forge. The rest is history.

AA: How does Legend express your vision of steampunk?

SW: Legend explores the darker side of the relationship between man and machine. What happens when something as advanced as artificial intelligence is introduced into a world still learning to adapt to even minor technological advancements? How much distrust will be felt from the human viewpoint as well as the A.I. viewpoint? Ultimately, I think it adds a new perspective to the genre. A lot of the story will be viewed from the robots side of things, something I don’t think is done very often. I look forward to exploring the psyche of a Steampunk robot’s mind.

 

AA: That’s true, usually automatons of various kinds in steampunk stories aren’t usually treated as equal sentient beings.  What was the initial spark for creating Legend?

SW: I wish I could say the inspiration was something profound…it wasn’t. haha. Truth be told, I was inspired to create Legend because I really wanted to see robot cowboys. Since I was a kid I’ve loved robots and I grew up watching Westerns with my parents. Sadly, I couldn’t find a lot of books that married those two things. I remember a professor in college told me, “If you can’t find the stories you really want to read, write them yourself.” So, I did.

 

AA: That alone is good motivation to create something. What prominent themes will readers find in Legend?

SW: Family and friendship. In that we have the relationship between Forge and Omega. They weren’t always at war. There was a time they were friends and even considered each other family. So what led to the rift between them? We also explore Forge’s history with his family, more specifically, his father. In Issue #2, there is an important scene between the two that shines a lot of light onto Forge and helps explain why he is the way he is.

AA: What will readers learn about the main characters, Everett Forge and Omega?

SW: Forge is your quintessential lone wolf. There are only a couple people he truly trusts, but even them he keeps at a distance. Or tries to at least. He’s a man driven by anger and hatred. He’s a man blinded by an all-consuming desire for revenge. But, deep down, he’s a man who just wants to find peace. He wants to live a normal, quiet life, but just never got the chance. Omega, the Machine leader, is very much like Forge. He’s untrusting and extremely volatile.

Just to give a quick background of the character, Omega is the only Machine to be built with the full range of human emotions. So, similar to Forge, Omega is driven by anger and hatred. The only difference between them is the reasoning for these emotions. But, as people will come to find, even their reasons are not all that different from one another.

 

AA: Interesting. Do they change throughout the arc of the whole story, or do they cause the world change around them, instead?

SW: That’s tough to say as I don’t want to give anything away. Short answer, they do change, but as for how they change…you’ll have to read to find out.

 

Time for a pause in our chat with Scott. Join us again when Scott talks about some of the behind-the-scenes details.

Keep up with Scott’s latest news on Twitter and Facebook.

Support Scott and our community and get your copy of The Legend of Everett Forge here.

Advertisements
Published in: on March 27, 2017 at 7:40 pm  Comments (3)  
Tags: , ,

Interview #103 – Author Adam Dreece, Conclusion

Welcome back for the conclusion in our talk with Adam Dreece, author of The Yellow Hoods series.

Read Part One here.

 

Airship Ambassador: What was the reason behind setting the series in a steampunk world?

Adam Dreece: In today’s world, our devices work like magic, with few of us having any real physical sense of how they work. Our interpersonal relationships are such that we immediately go to first names, and our clothing has stepped away from elegance and flow. We also have the feeling that there’s nowhere to go, and there are many places we’ve been but we aren’t striving for (e.g. the moon).

In a steampunk world, there’s a sense of inventiveness and exploration, that sense that the world’s there to be discovered and explored. The technology is big and imaginable, allowing most of us to think up ways that maybe, just maybe, we could make such a thing. Then there’s the clothing and the interpersonal relationships that have a romance to them.

AA: Yep, the outfits are the way to hook people on steampunk LOL. What can you share with us about the main characters?

AD: In The Yellow Hoods, I’ve got quite a cast of characters.

There are the three teens: Tee, Elly and Richy.

 

AA: What kind of steampunk gadgets and machinery are in the Yellow Hoods world?

AD: There are a number of them, put probably the coolest ones have to be the mechanical horses called King’s-Horses and the two types of airships: Skyfallers and Hotarus. I’m going to try to give a peek as to what they’re about, without ruining anything. This is going to be tricky. Strap in, let’s go!

The King’s-Horses were invented by brilliant inventors Nikolas Klaus and Christophe Creangle about 40 years BEFORE the series start, in the middle of a war on genius called Age of the Abominator. We learn about them in Book 3 – All the King’s-Men, and they help provide a basis for how come certain other inventions, like shock sticks, exist.

The Skyfallers are airships that are an evolved version of air balloons, while the Hotaru is a different contraption all together.

And one cannot forget the steam train itself! Or the high-pressure communication system invented by Dr. Neuma, known as the Neumatic Tube.

AA: Airships, trains and mechanical horses are definite pluses! Any other items of interest?

AD: Where to begin? Probably the most interesting one, according to my readers, is that the story is very much layered. As we enter Book 2 – Breadcrumb Trail, the plots and sub-plots develop a lot more complexity. On the surface, you have the Yellow Hoods themselves and a crisis they’re trying to resolve, but then you’ve got the ambitions of various players, and as you get into Book 3, the subterfuge and more.

A core element of the series is how I’ve made fairy tales and nursery rhymes real, but haven’t made them front and center as an explicit retelling. My inspiration was Ring-Around-the-Rosie and its relationship to the black plague. So I’ve taken things like Rub-a-Dub-Dub, made a dub-dub a wooden duck which is rubbed for luck, and the heart of the rhyme as being about a secret society that has lead various factions from the Moufan-Men to the Baker’s Dozen. All the elements for dozens of rhymes and fairy tales are there, if you can find them.

 

AA: That will be an interesting twist and then readers can say “Oh, I see what you did there!” With all of that, anything else that might be interesting?

AD: What OTHER elements? Hmm. The one thing that I keep coming to is really discovering just how far I’m willing to push these characters. At one point, someone called me the “young adult version of Game of Thrones.” I’ll leave it to the readers to figure out if that’s earned or not.

AA: How did personal elements influence The Yellow Hoods?

AD: In many ways. One pivotal example is that I took my struggle with chronic pain, and how I had 15 months of horrible pain and channeled that, and the lessons from it, into one of the characters introduced in book 2. The equivalent of an eleven-year-old Spanish/Moroccan girl loses her arm shortly before the book begins, and she has a personal journey in dealing with that pain to find her true self and heroism.

I also took my severe-asthma and brought that to a character in Book 3 in a funny and powerful way. It’s one of the great moments in that book.

 

AA: Wow, great way to turn big negatives into something that works for you. Book 5 is coming very soon, will there be a Book 6?

AD: While Book 5 – The Day the Sky Fell officially finishes off this series, it is not the end of the world or Yellow Hoods. My plan has always been to write a sequel series, which is now officially called Mark of the Yellow Hoods. In addition, I’m planning some spin-offs. Stay tunes!

AA: Because I’m curious, might readers see or hear any more of Nikolas Klaus and Christophe Creangle?

AD: Nikolas appears immediately in Book 1, while Christophe arrives in Book 3. You also meet Christophe’s daughter, Christina Creangle, who arrives and plays a really important role from Book 2-4. I had so much fun with these characters, and playing with that nod to the legend of Santa Claus.

 

AA: Say no more – no spoilers! The series is doing well in the dual age groups of 9-15 and 28+. Was that planned or did either niche come as a surprise?

AD: I had planned it from the outset, but I had no idea whether or not I would achieve it. As time went on, I found that it very much was that. While some readers were not

 

Thanks, Adam, for the behind the scenes look at The Yellow Hoods series!  We look forward to the imminent release of Book 5, and then hearing about the next series in this world.

 

Keep up to date with Adam’s latest news on his website, Twitter, and Facebook.

You can support Adam and our community by getting your copies of The Yellow Hoods series here.

Published in: on March 15, 2017 at 8:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Interview #103 – Author Adam Dreece

This week we are talking with Adam Dreece, author of The Yellow Hoods series.

 

Airship Ambassador: Hi Adam, it’s great to finally have a chance to talk with you!

Adam Dreece: Thank you for having me!

AA: There are four, soon to be five, books for The Yellow Hoods.  As a whole, what is the series about?

AD: The Yellow Hoods takes place on Eorthe: a world right at the point of emerging on the steampunk from, with the invention of the first steam engine and airships. Fairy tales and nursery rhymes are real, from a secret society called the Tub led by a butcher, baker, and candlestick maker, and two master inventors in their twilight years: Nikolas Klaus and Christophe Creange.

Book 1 – Along Came a Wolf opens the series with a seemingly innocent beginning, and introduces us to the teen trio of Tee, Elly and Richy, and a strong supporting case. We get to watch as their sheltered life in a small mountain town is shattered, and they learn that the world’s infinitely more complicated and intimidating than they could have imagined.

The series gets a lot more intense as it goes, always balancing poignancy with cheeky humor. My inspiration, in many ways, was Good Omens. That special Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett mix, with a touch of Richard Asprin thrown in.

 

AA: Sounds like a good mix, and isn’t that how life can be, too? What was the seed for creating The Yellow Hoods?

AD: One night when my nine-year-old daughter couldn’t sleep, I told her a story about this wolf who was being teased by these three little pigs, and he knocked on a granny’s door for help. A girl in a red hood came out and helped, and then I had one fairy tale crash into another, resulting in a whole band of girls in various colored hoods. She laughed, a lot. No problem going to sleep after that.

A few weeks later, when I was stuck writing another book, my daughter asked me if I could write down that story. So I went to do that, and my natural multi-layered self took over. You can still see the footprint of that simplistic tail in the beginning, and then see how it transforms and builds in intensity as it goes.

I wanted to write a series that my daughter could enjoy now as a tween, later as a teen, then as an adult, and then one day as a parent, and connect with it on different levels.

AA: There are works of various kinds that I thoroughly enjoyed as a child, then as a teen, then as an adult. It’s fun to discover the multiple layers of meaning, content and context to keep the same story being new each time. That’s quite an accomplishment and I hope your daughter, and all of your readers, appreciate that ongoing gift. What can you share, spoiler free, about the upcoming fifth installment, The Day the Sky Fell?

AD: Book 5 releases in April 2017 and I’m SUPER excited about it. The story arc that really kicked off in Book 2 – Breadcrumb Trail comes to an end, and we see the “grand game” come to a conclusion. We have grand airship battles, the plans dashed, and an enemy vanquished which will leave a horrible scar on one of the Yellow Hoods.

I decided to make it an end to the series, as our heroes have been through a lot in about a two-year period. But, fans should not despair, as I’ve always promised that I’d be writing a sequel series. The better news? I’ve got a few other things planned in this world.

 

AA: Whew! Readers can easily get caught up in an engaging fictional world, and while each story can satisfy the need to know what happens next, there’s always that craving which remains to know and experience more. In one of the write ups about the series, you mention that it was” emphasizing teamwork and family connections as well as empowerment and self-esteem.” Why are those underlying key elements in the overall structure, and how did those rise to the top of the list for you?

AD: One of my reviewers wrote that, and I thought it was really neat that she picked up on that. I wanted the books to have positive role models. I have strong and smart female characters that are reflections of the amazing women who’ve been in my life, and not the typical “pretty pink princess” or “boy characters with a wig and female name.” I also wanted to show that people can be stronger together, rather than reinforcing that reoccurring them in many books that people are at their best when they go solo. Lastly, I also get a lot kudos for having gay characters where I just treat it as a character trait, and don’t make it a story-telling flag pole. Again, I just looked at the people in my life and wanted them represented.

I don’t consciously sit there and ask myself how I reflect these positive elements, but I do take the time to think through my characters and their actions. How do I challenge them versus their beliefs, and how do they fight back, or in one case, come back to them. Having led teams for years in the software world, I might have learned a few things about how to bring people around, and how to identify when someone’s breaking away from the values of the tribe.

AA: You have experience with the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game since high school, and then you wrote a D&D supplement for a contest being run by Wizards of the Coast back in 2000. How did that start your path down the steampunk road?

AD: You really, really do your research don’t you? WELL, back then I decided to create a Victorian-style world that had taken a sci-fi approach on magic. Meaning, they had levitating carriages, and were using mana to power machines. I play tested it with several of my friends, and it was pretty solid and well balanced, giving you that magic and bullets feel with an inventive feel.

Unfortunately, UPS screwed up and the submission was rejected. I was a few months into my new job at Microsoft after several months of unemployment (dot com bust), so I decided to put it aside and focus on my career. But it didn’t go to waste.

When I was writing Along Came a Wolf (Book 1 of The Yellow Hoods), I came to a fight scene and had to make a decision about what to do so that a twelve-year-old girl could have a reasonable chance against a middle-aged man with a gun. Magic? That felt like cheating. Super-powers? Worse. Nothing but realism? Ah, no. Steampunk-it-up? Yeah! I took the basic ideas, kept them very grounded, and away I went.

AA: Some of those early ideas are now part of your free online serial, The Wizard Killer. What is that story about, and why share the early free preview?

AD: Yes! When I sat down to write The Wizard Killer, I decided to use the heart and soul of that setting I’d made in 2000, but give it a post-apocalyptic twist, giving me a post-apocalyptic fantasy setting.

I wrote The Wizard Killer in an episodic serial style, and used a binge-worthy TV show as a model. That meant every week, I’d write an episodic. Each episode had to have a mini-arc, a reason for being, that kept the tension and moved the story ahead. It was a complete experiment, and worked out really well.

Part of that experiment was deciding to release the raw (unedited, unrevised) episodes as I wrote them. I wanted to see if I could build an audience for it, and I wanted feedback as I went. Well, the response was awesome. I’m currently writing Season 2 and posting raw episodes, though this time because of the added complexity of what I’m striving for, I’m posting episodes a bit after I’ve written them.

 

We’ll break here in our chat with Adam. Join us for the conclusion when he talks about characters and the various steampunk elements in the books.

Keep up to date with Adam’s latest news on his website.

You can support Adam and our community by getting your copies of The Yellow Hoods series here.

Published in: on March 14, 2017 at 7:22 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , ,