What drew you to Steampunk?
I’ve been a sci-fi fan since I began reading novels (thanks to Heinlein and Bradbury) and I followed the rise of steampunk in the ‘80s with interest, so steampunk seemed like a natural “literary” choice for me. This series first started with the idea of writing books inspired by Victorian-era novels so it felt natural (and more fun) to push it in the direction of steampunk. It really combines sci-fi, fantasy, and horror--my three favorite flavors of fiction.
The Hunchback Assignments Book I and The Dark Deeps Book 2 are strong case-file adventures that begin the Hunchback series. Are there more plans for a multi-book storyline?
Yes. My intention is to write six or seven episodic novels. Each tells its own story, but the long “arc” will bring an answer to what happens between the conflict of The Permanent Association and The Clockwork Guild and how Modo adjusts to his role in society and his appearance.
What was the hardest part about writing The Dark Deeps?
The research. I want these books to be as believable as possible so I try to add as much historical detail and accuracy as I can. Researching submarine knowledge in the 1900’s was extremely interesting, but also a great big pile of reading. Plus, like every author, I get addicted to the research and forget that I’m actually supposed to be writing the book.
Modo is an interesting choice as a main character. What drove you to choose a hunchbacked character as the hero?
There were several reasons. One was that I had recently reread The Hunchback of Notre Dame and was so moved by the book that I wanted to do an “ode” to it. The Hunchback Assignments grew from a publisher pitching me on writing a Sherlock Holmes type novel. I didn’t want it to just be Sherlock, so I substituted Quasimodo instead then changed it to a secret agent instead of a detective. That’s the literary influence. On a more personal level my daughter Tori was born with Down Syndrome (she died in 2008 due to complications from treatment for leukemia). In her short life she taught me how little I knew about people with handicaps and also how society often treats them as the “other.” Not one of us. So I was taken by the idea of having a hero with a handicap.
Doctor Cornelius Hyde, Griff, Modo, and Captain Monturiol all have their roots in classic novels of the Victorian Era. What other characters or concepts have you borrowed from that period for The Dark Deeps?
Captain Monturiol actually has a double inspiration. She is obviously inspired by Captain Nemo, but I also drew my inspiration for her from a real life 19th century submarine designer named Narcis Monturiol. He was a brilliant man and did invent a perfectly workable (and safe) submarine years before anyone else and nearly went mad trying to get his creation out to the public (he believed it would end war because it could sink all warships).
The socialist concepts of Monturiol’s Icaria are all influenced by Monturiol and his fellow socialists of the time. A group of socialists from Europe actually tried to create their own utopian country (called Icaria) in Texas. The project failed miserably. I just tried to imagine how different it would have been if they’d tried to build their country under the water.
Obviously this book is influenced by Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. He was such an intelligent and detailed writer that it helped me understand how much people in the Victorian age knew about science and nature and, of course, submarines.
Both The Dark Deeps and The Hunchback Assignments have their basis in classic novels. Did you always intend to use classic stories as the basis for Modo’s adventures?
Yes, at some level. I don’t want to be limited by having to choose a novel or story to base the books on, but I do find so much inspiration from those books. After all you can draw a direct line back from the Sci-fi/fantasy/horror of today to the novels published in Victorian times.
Which character would you say is most like you?
Modo. Not that I have any shapeshifting abilities, but that he’s a reader and I’m a reader. Although maybe I need a bit of Miss Hakkandottir as part of my personality when it comes time to negotiate the next contract.
In all the research you did to write The Dark Deeps and The Hunchback Assignments, what was the most interesting thing you discovered?
That would be hard to pin down. I actually kept finding so many interesting things that I created an Odd Victorian Factoids piece for my website (http://www.hunchbackassignments.com/index_steamtrunk.php). I’d have to say the oddest and most interesting thing is that the flush toilet was made popular in Victorian times by a man named Thomas Crapper. Yes, crap meant the same thing then that it does now. So did he choose to become a plumber because of his name? Fate? Destiny? Fact is so much stranger than fiction.
What’s next for Modo and Octavia? For the Clockwork Guild?
The third novel is titled Empire of Ruins. It’s about Modo’s investigation of a rumored Egyptian temple in the Australian Rainforest that holds a powerful item called The God Face (this item will drive whoever sees it insane). Both the Permanent Association and The Clockwork Guild want it. The novel finds its roots in “adventure” novels from the period (Allan Quartermain novels being one example). And it’s also inspired by the whole race for Africa and colonization of the rest of the “uncivilized” world.
What are you working on now?
Next will be the fourth book in the series, The Shadow of Notre Dame. Where Modo will return to Paris to discover more about his roots. I think he’ll be mightily surprised when he finds out that he’s actually French (having spent his whole life raised as an English gentleman).
Thank you once again to Arthur for stopping here along his blog tour promoting The Dark Deeps. If you want to follow Arthur on his blog tour, make sure to check out these blogs:
Previous stops on The Dark Deeps blog tour:
Friday, September 17 - ArtSlade.com http://arthurslade.livejournal.com/
Saturday September 18 - Cynsations http://cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com/
Upcoming stops on The Dark Deeps blog tour:
Monday, September 20 - STEAMED! http://www.ageofsteam.wordpress.com
Tuesday, September 21 - Steampunk Tribune http://www.steampunktribune.com/
Wednesday, September 22 - Suvudu http://suvudu.com/
Thursday, September 23 - Steampunk Scholar http://steampunkscholar.blogspot.com/
Friday, September 24 - Through the Looking Glass http://lookingglassreview.blogspot.com/
And I also have a surprise for you all: I have two ARCs of Arthur Slade's The Dark Deeps to give away to two lucky readers of Free the Princess. So here's what I propose: Come with the most inventive Steampunk twist on a character from a classic novel. The two most creative offerings will each win an ARC.
The Rules are thus: Put your entry in the comments of this post by week's end -- Friday, September 24 -- and I will announce the winners on Monday, September 26.