Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Writer Chat Wednesday with Jason G. Anderson, author of Gears of Wonderland


Welcome to Writer Chat Wednesday! Continuing with Steampunk week, I chat today with Jason G. Anderson, author of Gears of Wonderland, a wonderfully fun steampunk tale set in Wonderland. Jason is an imaginative storyteller and I'm so psyched that he took a moment to visit with me. Come back Friday for my review of Gears of Wonderland


Natalie Wright (NW): When and how did you become interested in Steampunk? For anyone interested in reading books in the Steampunk genre, can you recommend some good ones that you enjoyed?

JASON ANDERSON (JA): My initial interest in steampunk came purely from the visual aspect. The Victorian-but-not clothing, the strange machines, the bizarre city scenes with airships and other unusual elements in the picture, etc. Then I read (and watched) various steampunk, or steampunk inspired, stories, and became hooked.

One book I whole-heartedly recommend is by indie-author SM Reine. It’s a novella I read over Christmas, titled “The 19 Dragons”. As the name suggests, the story focuses on 19 dragons, but they all live in a unique steampunk world that depends on them remaining alive for it to exist. Which isn’t good when someone starts killing the dragons one by one! The story itself is crafted in a very unusual way, as it switches viewpoint to each of the dragons in turn to tell the tale. I loved it, and highly recommend it to everyone remotely interested in the steampunk genre.


NW: What inspired you to write Gears of Wonderland?

JA: Back in October 2010 I was getting ready to take part in NaNoWriMo, planning out the story I was going to write (totally unrelated to Wonderland or steampunk). Then I saw the SyFy version of Alice, and immediately got struck by the idea of a Wonderland that had aged and changed along with our world. I tried to ignore it, and focus on my original story idea, but the thought just wouldn’t get out of my head. So I began developing the idea further, and it was the story I wrote for NaNoWriMo.

The two core ideas I had was the Knave of Hearts taking over Wonderland, and that the land had gone down the steampunk route (since the original stories were written in the Victorian period). Everything else came later. The final published version isn’t too different to what I had at the end of NaNoWriMo. I reworked parts of the first quarter of the story, and added a few extra scenes throughout the rest, but it didn’t end up changing much at all.

Actually, I lie. The first draft of Gears didn’t have the White Rabbit in the story at all. That was a real head-slap moment for me when I realized – how can you have a story about Wonderland that doesn’t have the White Rabbit? So he got worked into the story during the revision.

Another thing that changed was the title. My original working title was Wonderland in Darkness, but I figured it was rather uninspiring, and didn’t convey the steampunk aspect. So I changed it to the current title as I approached the end of the first draft.

NW: Laura, James' girlfriend, is such a -- difficult -- woman. I was happy when James, early on, had an opportunity to get a break from her! Is the Laura character based on any real life girlfriend(s)?

JA: “Difficult” is one word to describe her! No, Laura isn’t based on anyone I know. Some nasty people have claimed that I must be writing about my wife, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I wanted the opening scenes of the novel, with James’s boss and Laura, to show how submissive James was at this point in his life. He was unwilling to fight for the things he wanted, or even consider ‘rocking the boat’, no matter how bad their demands became. Wonderland becomes a chance for him to leave those habits (mostly) behind, and grow in confidence.

NW: Will you write a sequel to Gears of Wonderland?

JA: That is my current plan. I didn’t set out to write a series originally, but I had a lot of fun working with the characters as I was revising the book into its final form that I’d like to go back to the setting. A few people have also asked about a sequel, so it seems to have struck a chord with a few readers at least.

I have a few ideas floating around in my mind on what the sequel could be about (the fallout from what happened at the end of the novel, and Kara’s search for her mother), but nothing solid yet. I’ve got to survive my current WIP first!

NW: Why did you choose to self-publish? And are you interested in pursuing a traditional publishing contract?

JA: To be honest, I decided to self-publish because I couldn’t imagine being a traditionally published author!

I’ve always been a fan of having full control over whatever I create. Back when I went to university, I wrote software for Apple computers that I sold online as “shareware” (basically you download the program to try it out first, and if you like it you buy it from the author). More recently, I wrote several small roleplay gaming supplements, that I sold as PDF.


When the urge to write novels became too large to ignore, being an indie author didn’t seem much different to what I’d done before. That’s not to say that I’d never accept a traditional publishing contract. But they would have to offer me much better than their “standard” terms to entice me. And whatever they offered would have to not screw over my current readers (unlike a current indie-turned-traditional author that my wife was a fan of, who signed a deal that blocks sales of their current & future books outside of the US).

NW: You live in Tasmania, which is so far away from so many places! Have you always lived there? And does your environment inspire your writing at all?

JA: We’re not that far away from the rest of the world :)

Yep, I was born in Tasmania, although at the opposite end of the state (Devonport). I moved to Hobart, the state capital, to attend university. After I graduated I managed to find a job down here, so I stayed. I also met my future wife at university, which was another reason not to move back to my parents place!

I don’t really know that I could say the environment has inspired my writing that much. I guess because Tasmania doesn’t have the level of development, or the large cities, that other places have, I tend to think more in terms of open spaces and green surrounds (which featured in Gears). I can’t say that it’s helped with my post-apocalyptic short stories though :)

NW: Will you write more books in the Steampunk genre? And/or what other genres do you write in?

JA: Other than the sequel to Gears, I’m not sure if I’ll write more in the steampunk genre, at least in the near-future. While it’s not the wisest idea to spread yourself over different genres, the next few ideas I have for books are in the sci-fi and urban fantasy genres. Plus I have my Atomic Wasteland series of short stories, which are all set in a post-apocalyptic world.

It all depends how strong the idea for the story is when it comes time for me to start a new book I guess!

NW: What are you working on now? Can we look forward to any new titles from you soon?

JA: I’m currently working on a sci-fi thriller titled “On Ice”. It’s about a group of scientists who are studying the polar region of an uninhabited alien planet. They become cut off from the main base of the (planet-wide) expedition, and have to deal with a situation that goes from bad to worse very quickly. As people start dying, they begin to realize that there may be a reason the planet is uninhabited!

The novel in part is inspired by my own work. I work in the Antarctic science field (as an assistant, not a scientist), and wanted to write about something that was ice-related. Setting it in modern-day Antarctica didn’t appeal, but putting it in the future did. I’ve been able to talk with a few people who have spent time “in the field”, to get a feel of what it’s like to work in that sort of environment. Hopefully I won’t mess up too much of what they told me! :)

I’m frantically working on the book now, and hope to have it out sometime in April.


Thanks Jason for stopping by. I'm looking forward to reading On Ice and hope you'll stop back then to chat about it.


Until then, check out all of Jason's titles:






You can connect with Jason here:


Blog: http://www.jasonga.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jason.g.anderson
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JasonGA

Bio:
Jason G. Anderson lives in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia with his wife and several cats. During the day, he helps Antarctic scientists manage the vast quantities of data they collect. At night, he dreams of other worlds and realities much different to our own. His writing interests include sci-fi, urban fantasy, post-apocalyptic and steampunk.