Interview 111, Noah Lemelson, author of The Sightless City, Part 3

Welcome back to part 3 of our interview with Noah Lemelson, author of The Sightless City.

Read Part 1 here.

Read Part 2 here.

Airship Ambasador: There is that phrase about advanced science and technology being like magic, which does feel like what the Engineers can do. How did you help the readers to feel the The Sightless City history?

Noah Lemelson: I tried to give hints of the history through landscape, architecture, and objects. It’s a world of ruin, where a lot is reused, and everything new is built on something older. People scavenge old weapons, refurbish old vehicles, and decorate their homes with both the art and trash of past eras. I tried to show how people were adapting to this broken world, and how the remnants of the past still affect the present.

AA: It’s an enjoyable read, and truth be told, I was rooting for Sylvaine as the underdog. Looking now at writing, and rewriting, The Sightless City, what was your schedule?

NL: I started writing the novel in 2015, and it went through a lot of different forms, starting as a series of short stories, then one novel, then a trilogy. I began to look for an agent and publisher in 2019, and it took a year before I found success at Tiny Fox Press (never did get that agent). Luckily, I had done most of my editing before sending it out, so the editing schedule with Tiny Fox wasn’t all that high pressure.

AA: Low pressure is nice to have, and your proactive editing must have paid off. Some people find writing a short story with memorable, meaningful characters and concise story to be a challenge, while others find that easier and writing novels is the challenge. How is that situation for you, and what is your approach to make it easier?

NL: I write both and find neither to be inherently easier or harder. You have to be much more strategic with short stories, you can’t waste time, or give yourself the space you might allow yourself in a novel. Novels are more about balancing many factors over a long time. Precision vs logistics.

AA: If someone likes “X”, then they’ll like The Sightless City. What is “X”?

NL: The Half-Made World is not a bad comparison, neither is Retribution Falls, and I think people who like China Miéville’s work will find a lot to enjoy in The Sightless City. Basically, anyone who enjoys deep gritty worldbuilding with complex characters and a layer of dry humor will find something to love.

AA: Those are good comparisons to help similar readers learn of your work. What do you think puts this story on someone’s must read/have list?

NL: I think it sits at a unique meld of genres, steampunk and noir, post-apocalyptic, horror, and even some hints of western. There’s no other setting quite like Æthmach, more traditional fantasy mixed with steampunk, all through the dust-scuffed lens of a half-apocalypse.

AA: Looking to the future, if The Sightless City were made into a movie, who would you cast as the main characters?

NL: To be honest, I do not pay enough attention to actors to give good answers here. I think I’d ideally avoid someone big-name, I’d rather it be a springboard for fresh actors who can inhabit the role without the audience baggage of past fame.

AA: The would be a nice opportunity to let someone just run with their expression. How about a soundtrack for The Sightless City, what would that be like?

NL: Hmm… Well, I was listening to a lot of Sunday Driver while writing it.

AA: What are some memorable reader reactions to The Sightless City which you’ve heard about?

NL: I’m not sure if it counts, but my most treasured reaction was when I was able to give my grandmother an early copy of the novel before she passed.

AA: My condolences to you and your family on your loss. I’m sure it was as much a gift and pleasure for her to read your accomplishments. What kind of attention has The Sightless City generated since it was released?

NL: Kirkus called it “A gripping mystery with an exceptionally fleshed-out world,” and Publisher’s Weekly said it was “…sure to entertain any fan of gritty speculative fiction.”

AA: They are not wrong in those comments. How are new readers finding you?

NL: I’ve been trying to reach out through blogs and social media, but truth is I’m not sure which methods are getting the most readers.

AA: Every author I’ve talked with has a different journey to seeing their works in print. What was your publishing experience like?

NL: They key is to get used to rejections. It’s hard to get something published, and there’s a whole lot of no’s before you reach a yes. Once I had a draft I was happy with, the process was just a grind of sending out email, going to conventions, and constantly rewriting my query letter. After a year of this, I saw that Tiny Fox was open, sent in a letter, and after a little back and forth, was pleased to be accepted for publication.

AA: Publishing has always seemed like a challenge for most writers, perhaps even more so now when there are so many other channels of communication and information. Authors aren’t just competing against other printed stories, and then not even just against television, but now there are all other forms of entertainment to take up every spare second in a day. For the aspiring writer, what lessons did you learn about having an agent and editor, their feedback, and your writing?

NL: Most of my editing was before I sent it to a publisher. I think publishers want something close to ready, they don’t always have the time to edit it significantly. Tiny Fox gave good notes, and was flexible in the editing process.

Time for another break in our Interview with Noah.

Look for part 4 where Noah talks more about the characters and the details of their world.

Keep up to date with Noah Lemelson’s latest news on his website and on Twitter.

You can support Noah Lemelson and our community by getting your copy of The Sightless City here.

Published in: on February 2, 2022 at 9:40 am  Leave a Comment  

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