Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Diversify Your SteamPunk Day 7: JRPG's, Deities and 20th Century SteamPunk with Max Gladstone

Today we had the pleasure with catching an interview with a very talented writer who we discovered on an online thread featuring amazing covers with People of Color. After we discovered he mixed fantasy, Deities and a lil' bit of SteamPunk in his series, we had to learn more! Mr.Gladstone with his many accomplishments and writings in the works, We're ecstatic that he had the found the time to sit down and chat with us! So without further adieu......

1.Welcome to our humble blog! My sister and I are plenty familiar with you but for those who are first being introduced to you can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Thanks for having me!  I write books about the fantasyland of late-milennial capitalism: gods with shareholders' committees, wizards with annual performance reviews, etc.  Three Parts Dead hit stands in 2012, and Two Serpents Rise in 2013; the next book in the series, Full Fathom Five, will debut in July of this year.  I've worked as a teacher, a translator, a tour guide, and a bunch of other things that don't begin with T.

2.You chose to use Steampunk in a really neat way in your book, Three Parts Dead.You mixed Religion, Fantasy and Sci-Fi, giving it a very different take. What was the inspiration behind that?

I was struck back during the 2008 financial crash by the extent to which the world I lived in looked like a fantasy setting—global society convulsed as a number of immaterial, ostensibly immortal "persons" (at least according to Citizens United) died due to our lack of faith in them.  So I started thinking about corporations and governments as gods in a D&D sense, and the bankruptcy process as a sort of necromancy, which it really is if you think about it.  I started writing a story about a fantasy world with modern labor and political dynamics, not to mention theology—and the steam technology came in to help stitch everything together.

3.Seeing as how this month on Twinja Book Reviews we're highlighting Steampunk novels, We have to ask.....What drew you to Steampunk?

I fell in love with the genre originally through JRPGs—especially Final Fantasy VI and VII, and Chrono Trigger.  These were pure steampunk in that they mixed the cyberpunk moral compass (resistance to and suspicion of imperial industrial power) with a fantasy setting through the medium of steam technology.  The use of the fantasy toolbox to portray or mess around with modern, or at least post-industrial, society struck me as really cool and full of potential.  I don't know if it was the Mana Reactor or the Magitek Armor that grabbed me first, but some crystal of possibility stuck deep down in the fertile rotten places of my brain.  

That said, I'm not sure a lot of Steampunk folks would claim me, since the style sense of my books tends more toward the 20th century corporate—pinstripes and vests, sleek lines, pants-suits, nary a bustle to be seen.  Vive le difference, I guess.

4.Have you always big a fan of Steampunk? Or did it develop as you were writing the story?

I've been partial to the Industrial Dark & Magic toolbox since I first encountered it in JRPGs around 1994; when I started Three Parts Dead, I knew I wanted to tell a fantasy story set in a post-industrial secondary fantasy world.  The fact that one of the central characters in my story was a god of fire suggested steam technology and magical engineering, which brought in a lot of steampunk elements.  So, a bit of both!

5.Here @Twinja Book Reviews we're highly drawn to lead characters that go beyond the "default" white, cisgendered, christian, male,able bodied character; Did you always envision your lead character to be a Woman of Color? (The cover is great by the way!)

I'm glad you liked the cover!  Tara's racial identity took shape as I made early decisions about the character; the more I write the more suspicious I grow of reflexive action in writing, especially fiction—and character defaults are part of that.  When making characters, if I'm driven to write a particular character in a sort of cultural default role, I try to ask 'why,' and if I don't have a good answer, I reach further.  The apposite word (or character or whatever) is rarely the first one that springs to mind.

6. If you had it your way and "Three Parts Dead" got optioned and made into a movie or TV series, who would be your dream cast to play the characters?

If I know one thing about myself, it's that I'm no good at casting.  I don't watch enough movies or TV to be able to cast my books; I also don't write my characters with particular actors in mind.  If given this kind of opportunity, I'd probably run to an excellent casting director, someone like Rene Haynes for example, and say "what can we do with these characters?"

7. What can you tell us about your current projects?

I'm writing the fifth Craft Sequence book now, and so far it looks like we're back in Alt Coulumb, which is very exciting.  Also this year I'll be writing a sequel to Choice of the Deathless, my game set in the world of Three Parts Dead.  (The first game was nominated for a XYZZY award this year, so yay!) 

8.Where can readers find out more about your upcoming projects and updates?

Check out my website, www.maxgladstone.com—or follow my general blatherings on Twitter, @maxgladstone.

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  1. Great interview! I especially like the comparison between necromancy and bankruptcy. So true!


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