Interview #104 – Author Scott Wilke, Part Two

Welcome back for part two in our chat with Scott Wilke, author of The Legend of Everett Forge.

Read Part One here.

 

Airship Ambassador: Looking behind the scenes, how did you keep the characters relatable to the readers yet still grounded in the circumstances of the story?

Scott Wilke: Issue #1 I wasn’t able to really dive too deep into the inner workings of each character. Truth be told, I didn’t want to at this point. I want there to be mystery yet for the sake of the reader experience. A friend told me, after reading Issue #1, that he could see Forge being either the hero OR the villain. I thought…good! I purposely left out narration in my work too because I want to create an uncertainty in the reader. Is Forge the hero of the story? Is Omega really the villain?

Similar to the Old West, there is this blurring of the lines between good and evil. For instance, if you ask most people whether or not the Earps were “good” guys, they’d say yes. But, if you read more about them and what actually transpired before O.K. Corral, you’d think, “Hmmm, well maybe they weren’t THAT good.” Same for Forge, he’s not a hero. He’s not an anti-hero either. He’s somewhere along the spectrum and I want people to determine his place themselves and not be told right off the bat. Wow, what a digression! So, long story short, there really wasn’t an opportunity to make these characters relatable yet, because we don’t really know who they are yet.

AA: May they aren’t totally transparent in Issue #1, but neither are they quite black-and-white stereotypes, either. What kind of steampunk tech plays a role in telling the story?

SW: Tech plays a pretty large role in the story. I wish I could get into more details on the specifics, but I don’t want to give anything away. Let’s just say there is an airship that plays an EXTREMELY large role. Check out our Facebook page and Kickstarter to get a look at it!

 

AA: You’ve done really well avoiding the spoilers so far. What interesting things will readers find in the upcoming issues?

SW: There are lots of cool things up ahead. Airship battles, pirates, and giant mechs…just to name a few!

 

AA: Toys! Was there a scene which was really memorable to write?

SW: There’s a scene coming up in Issue #2 with Forge and his friend/mentor, Aces King. It is the first time we’ll see the two of them together. It’s memorable in that with every re-write the relationship between the two morphed. At first, I imagined their relationship as one of just friendship. But, as I wrote it, the relationship played out more like a father-son relationship. I struggled to correct this as it wasn’t my intention, but I realized the reason why I couldn’t correct it is because it was natural and organic. It just made sense. Knowing their history, knowing what both of them went through, I realized that…yeah, Aces King views Forge as his son and Forge looks to King as a surrogate father. It just goes to show you how sometimes your stories take on a life of their own.

AA: That idea of ‘characters taking over’ and telling the author what the story really is comes up a lot in these interviews J  Was there any scene that you loved but which just didn’t work in the story?

SW: In issue #2 there will be a scene between Forge and his father. A pretty emotionally tense scene. There was a passage that I really wanted to keep but ended up scrapping because it removed some of the emotional weight from a later scene. I wish I could go into more detail than that, but I don’t want to ruin anything!

 

AA: What kind of back story is there for Legend which didn’t make it into the final story?

SW: To be honest, not a lot of the back story was revealed in issue #1. That was all intentional. I wanted Forge to be shrouded in mystery when you first meet him. I want people to be curious about what happened between Forge and Omega? What set Forge off on his path to vengeance? Why does Omega have a soft spot for Forge? Who is Angel of Death? These were the questions I wanted people to have. Issue #2 will definitely include more back story and explain pieces of all of those questions.

AA: Did aspects of your own life find their way into Legend?

SW: A number of characters in Legend are inspired by people in my life. Aces King, Forge’s friend/mentor, was inspired by my dad. So much so, that my dad actually dresses up as him at conventions. Forge’s other friend, Willa Sawyer, was inspired by my wife. I have a character named Penny who was inspired by my mother and a character named Raven who was inspired by my niece. So, as you can see, Legend has turned into quite the family affair. Beyond that I think some of the hardships I’ve gone through and my family have gone through have sort of bled through onto the pages. Not always in a literal sense of course. For instance, my dad battled cancer back in 2012. A lot of times I feel like Forge’s story is representative of my dad because he faced some pretty unthinkable odds but was able to come out stronger on the other end.

 

AA: What was one memorable story while writing this story?

SW: There was one cry in the corner moment I think and that was after my first failed Kickstarter. There I was, finally having the courage to bring this story to life, a story that had been in my head for 10 years…and no one was interested. As a writer, I had come to terms with rejection pretty early on. But, that was an especially brutal blow. But, thanks to my family, I brushed myself off, got back up, and tried again!

AA: That is really hard, sort of a public judgment. Sometimes though, it’s other factors which play into why a given effort isn’t successful. What research did you do to create the Legend world?

SW: I am constantly doing research as I write. I realize I’m writing a Steampunk Weird West story, but I still want the environment and the history to feel authentic and be grounded in some level of reality. Whenever I give ClickArt Studios new things to draw, I like to provide them with photographs of the actual item from the 1800’s and then have them build the “Steampunk” on top of that. For example, Forge’s guns in the first issue are Magnetic Accelerator Revolvers. The gun itself is actually a Colt pistol. So I had ClickArt start with that design and add the Steampunk pieces on top of it. I think it makes the gun look more believable.

 

That’s a great idea, and a great way for other people to imagine items for their own props and accessories.

Time for a pause in our chat with Scott. Join us again when Scott talks about writing the story.

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.

Published in: on March 28, 2017 at 7:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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.

Published in: on March 27, 2017 at 7:40 pm  Comments (1)  
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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  
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