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Interview: Emily Thompson

Emily Thompson is the author of the Clockwork Twist series. Book 1: Waking is available now, and Book 2: Twist comes out January 14, 2014.

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What do you do when you are not writing?

I probably spend about half of my free time writing, or at least thinking about my stories.  I forgot how to flip that switch off a while ago.  But when I’m not actually working on my books, I love to read a good book, go out to see a movie, or sit at home and marathon sci-fi TV on Netflix.  I find that in-taking copious amounts of stories and media helps to keep my muse in fighting form.  Plus, I’m a serious sci-fi/fantasy TV junky.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

As a Steampunk writer, my first instinct is to say Jules Verne.  But I must admit that although I adore Verne and have read nearly all of his books that I can find (in English), he isn’t actually the writer who I most look up to.  His characters are lovely, his stories fantastic, and his style is charming.  But I can’t read French, so I can’t really appreciate his voice without a translator.

When I really think about the artistry of the English language, I go right for Oscar Wilde.  There are many great writers in our language who can inspire and challenge us to grow as artists, but I’ve read sentences by Wilde that make me just stop and stare in awe.  There’s a grace and depth to Wilde’s writing that really speaks to me, and it represents a level of care that I often feel is lacking in more modern English writing.  If I could hone my craft through diligent work and study for the rest of my life, then someday I might just be able to write half as well as Wilde.  And that is the goal I strive for in my writing.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

There are two new authors I simply adore.  One is Tana French, who writes some of the best psychological mystery novels I’ve ever seen.  Her stories feel real and honest, even when things start to turn toward insanity.  Like Mary Shelley, Tana French can turn her characters slowly mad with such finesse that you start to taste what it would feel like to lose your mind, yourself.  Her books are wonderfully creepy, without a moment of gore.

The other author I love right now is Félix J. Palma.  He bends literary rules to their breaking points, smashes the forth wall to bits, and his books are unrelentingly long.  And yet, I adore his work.  Even the very first few pages of The Map of Time glimmered and crackled with powerful writing magic.  I was swept instantly into his story, and forever delighted and surprised throughout.  I swear he is the reincarnation of Verne, upgraded for modern Steampunk.

I find it interesting to know what environment people write in. Do you use a pen and paper, laptop? Quiet room, music or what?

I love to write in a café.  I’ve got a simple, slow, but light and reliable little laptop that I take with me to various coffee shops around where I live.  Some trip-hop or chillstep playing on my headphones, a decent cappuccino, and a handful of undisturbed hours is all I really need to get the pages done.  Sometime I try to write in other places, but it’s never as easy for me.  I think I’ve trained myself by now that café time = writing time.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

There’s a tendency in Steampunk, and a lot of other modern fiction, to go the gritty dystopian route.  I love a good goggles and zombies story as much as the next person, but I don’t like to see a predominance of one type of book in the genre.  For me, Steampunk is also brilliant for escapism.  What other genre has airship pirates?  So, when I first set out to follow Twist around the world, I made a conscious decision to keep delight and wonder at the forefront of the story.  Things don’t always go smoothly for Twist, and he’s going to face quite a few difficulties and dark moments in the future books, but every trial he encounters is put in place to help him to grow and I make sure he enjoys the results.  The only thing that I want people to take away from my books is a sense of adventure, and a truly good time.

What sort of Starbuck’s coffee would your characters order?

What a lovely question!  I would imagine that Twist would order something simple, non-sweet, and bold: a double, dry, cappuccino perhaps.  The clockwork princess doesn’t have a stomach or taste buds, but if she did I’m sure she’d get something like a strawberries and cream Frappuccino, with extra caramel sauce and whipped cream.  Jonas Davis, on the other hand, wouldn’t be happy with something easy.  He’d probably get a no-water chai, with an ad-shot or two, and a pump of mocha just for fun.

READ MORE FROM EMILY THOMPSON ON HER WEBSITE.

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