I cant say that I was surprised there were so few that diversified their view of the steampunk genre, but what really caught my eye was that she listed both her book, and Jay Noel's under multicultural. Many authors dont like this term, as they feel it limits what type of people will read their work. But what about us who are multicultural? What about those who seek out stories that represent more than what publishers are giving us?
I'd won a giveaway Susan also hosted, but the gift I was sent to get was unavailable, so when she offered me Jay Noel's "Dragonfly Warrior", I cant say that this prize wasn't a better fit for, and Twinja Book Reviews. So when I racked up all the authors and online presences I knew, I realized hosting an event like this was even possible. I owe all the participants a bit of gratitude for exposing those who look for such, a more diverse way of telling stories. So without further ado....
1. Let's get to the introductions. For those of us just meeting you Jay, why dont you tell us more about us?
Hmm...I'm a long time blogger, and I started my blog back in 2005. It was a creative outlet for me which spawned a popular podcast and grew to the point where it consumed all my time. I wanted to get serious about my writing, and I decided to change my blog to center around my struggles to become a novelist.
I work in medical sales during the day, which means I do all my author-stuff at night. Yes, I'm exhausted, but it's worth it!
2. Before I get into questions about your book "Dragonfly Warrior", I have to ask, why steampunk? Was it a sub genre you've always felt connected to? Or did it just fit the story you were telling? What are some of your favorite elements of steampunk?
The first full length novel I read was The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, which led me to reading more of his books. Then I picked up Jules Verne. To me, they're the granddaddies of steampunk. I enjoy the retro-futurism and anachronism of steampunk - meshing history with science fiction.
It's not only fun, but opens the doors to unique and interesting possibilities.
3. Your novel "Dragonfly Warrior" is based on a Steampunk Japan. What was the inspiration behind this? What drew you to a fictional Japan-esque setting?
I'm in love with the history surrounding feudal Japan, especially right around the turn of the century during their Meiji Period. It's the epitome of steampunk. I like to focus on the PUNK aspect of steampunk, which includes challenging authority. Whenever there's a major change in society, there's always conflict. The Meiji Period was about Japan opening its doors to the West and the clash of cultures. Society was undergoing HUGE upheavals - the old vs the new.
Can't get any more steampunk than that.
4. Kanze Zenjiro is the main character in your novel "Dragonfly Warrior." Why do you think his narrative is important to the story? Why do you think audiences might relate to him?
Writing Zen's character was frightening, actually. I broke modern conventions with him, and I was scared that it wouldn't work. At first, he seems invulnerable and a caricature of the typical epic hero. Some would say he is a cardboard cut out in the beginning. But very quickly, you realize that he's very naive and innocent. And his idealism and arrogance sets him up for a big fall.
Even though I didn't intend this book to be Young or New Adult, several young people have picked up my book and loved it. It's definitely a coming of age story for sure. There's a big loss of innocence theme running through it, and I think readers pick up on that too.
5. Steampunk has typically been reclusive to Eurocentric culture until most recently. Seeing some interesting articles on your blog :) What other settings do you plan on taking your characters?
I have been touching on Africa in the second and especially third book in my series. I do plan to write another spin-off trilogy and we will dig deeper into other countries and cultures in my world. I'm looking forward to taking steampunk in some fun and new directions.
6. What are some of your favorite steampunk works? Why did you connect with them?
Other than H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, I've also enjoyed Cherie Priest. Priests's Clockwork Century series is pretty amazing. It's an interesting take on alternative history with steampunk elements that I enjoy. I'm a fan of alternative history because I love to speculate about all the "What Ifs" in the world. I'm also a history geek, and these books let me play in a whole new historical sandbox.
7. Writing advice time! What are some tips you can give as an accomplished author, that might help aspiring writers with writing outside their own experience, and incorporating diverse characters in their writing?
Wikipedia is a great resource, but it can only take you so far. Seek out people with firsthand knowledge of other cultures to get a more personal perspective. Attended cultural festivals and other international events to get more immersed in more diverse societies. Facts are great, but each culture has its own aesthetic, feeling, and life. Don't just try to inject diverse characters or setting in your work - make it central to your writing. Make it so your story COULDN'T have happened in any other setting or with any other characters.
My book wouldn't not have worked in a Eurocentric setting, for example.
8. Finally where can everyone find anything and everything Jay Noel?!?
My official website is jaynoelbooks.com
Also, my blog is at jaynoel.com