Monday, September 22, 2014

Author Interview: S.C. Green, The Sunken

I want S.C. Green to be my bestie. Not only is her steampunk dark fantasy The Sunken completely kick ass, she’s also very cool. Below we talk steampunk, dinosaurs and metal music. And check out her Spotify playlist for The Sunken at the end for some steampunk for your ears! 

Tell me about The Sunken.

The Sunken is the first in a four-part series set in an alternate Georgian London, where dinosaurs never became extinct. Christianity has been outlawed, instead replaced by several "Industrian" sects, religions centred around science and engineering. Each of these sects vie for power in the Engine Ward, a district of London. Nicholas Thorne has just returned from France under a cloud of shadow, and he seeks refuge in the Ward from his secret power; he hears the thoughts of animals inside his head, and he believes that by entering the Ward and surrounding himself in steel and iron, he will be able to free himself of their constant noise.

So he goes to work for his childhood friend, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who is rising in popularity as an engineer, against all odds. When Isambard wins a contract with the King to build a high Wall around the city, Nicholas is stoked for his friend. But his glee quickly turns to terror when they discover that the King is hiding something terrible in Windsor Castle, and that the Wall is part of a more sinister plan.

Steampunk + dinosaurs = AWESOME! What inspired this idea?

I've been pretty obsessed with dinosaurs since I was a kid. I even found a mosasaur bone once. I had been thinking for a long time about writing a book set in a historical setting where dinosaurs still survived. When I started getting the idea for an alternate history industrial revolution book, adding the concept of dinosaurs made me really excited, so I did it. I liked the idea of looking at a world that had grown alongside those creatures and how that had played in to their history and their geography and their mythology.

Was there anything you struggled with while writing The Sunken? How did you over come it?

The whole series was very research-intensive. I read a ton of books and even spent a couple of years volunteering at a steam heritage trust learning more about locomotives. It was pretty cool though, because I've even been able to drive a steam locomotive, which is certainly not something you do every day!

What drew you to the steampunk genre?

I've kind of always been into it, but didn't know what it was called. Some of my favorite authors are people like China Mieville and Philip Reeve, who write steampunk even though they might not call it that. I also love Victorian literature, in particular, Arthur Conan Doyle and Jules Verne, so any modern work referencing them appeals to me. I've never really been a fan of epic fantasy taking place in some far off, earthlike "world" where everything is just medieval Europe with wizards and funny names, but I love the idea of thinking about what our world would be like if technology have evolved in a slightly different way.

What’s your favorite metal t-shirt?

Oh, tough choice! Probably tied between my Blind Guardian tour shirt from Wacken Open Air, 2011, which I got at the festival in Germany. Blind Guardian are one of my favorite bands and to be in the crowd while they were playing at a German festival, with my husband and some of my closest friends at my side, was pretty amazing. The other one is pretty old and faded now, but it is an Opeth "Ghost Reveries" shirt from their 2007 NZ tour. It was the first international metal show my now husband and I attended together, and it was pretty bloody incredible. Plus the design is really awesome.

Now that The Sunken is released, what’s next for you?

Oh, so many things! I am frantically working away on the second book in the Engine Ward series, The Gauge War (3/4 done!) I'm also starting work on a dystopian series set in a near-future city (that's NaNo this year), and a short faerie story to tide readers over till The Gauge War comes out. The short story might be released end of this month or beginning of next.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Not really. I write for a living, so I'm pretty much butt in chair, hands on keyboard all day, every day, no matter what's going on or what I feel like. I take a break at lunchtime to, well, eat (otherwise I forget), do exercise and do chores around my property (I live on a lifestyle block, so there's always something to be done!). I try to write 1000 words of fiction every day - I don't always succeed, but the habit is there.

Any favorite place to write?

Recently, my husband and I finished building an eco-house on 4 acres of land in the country. My office is in the attic and it is my favorite room in the house after the bathroom (we have a REALLY cool bathroom! It's all black with a huge granite sink that looks as if it were hewn directly out of the earth by dwarves). Right now I'm sitting at my desk typing this with hot chocolate and two cats sleeping beside me and the rain is pounding on the roof outside. It's pretty amazing.

What 5 books are on your bookshelf right now?

Right now I'm reading Philip Pullman's Northern Lights. On my pile is Claudius the God (sequel to I, Claudius. I've read both before but felt like a dose of Roman debauchery.); Uncle Tom's Cabin (I'm halfway through), and a Pablo Neruda poetry book (I'm visiting South America next year so I'm reading up!)

What do you recommend people see/read/hear?

See: I am really looking forward to the new Hunger Games films. We don't have a TV, so I don't watch a lot of stuff, but currently we are re-watching Poirot and Sherlock episodes. I love detectives.
Hear: Blind Guardian for fantasy geeks, Jordan Reyne for dark celtic/steampunk moodiness, Beastwars for pure NZ sludgey goodness. Amon Amarth for sexy viking beards.

Here’s a brilliant playlist for The Sunken. And go pay a visit to SC’s very cool website Steffmetal.

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