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Author’s Interview – Marcin Wrona July 6, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in Author Interviews.
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Marcin Wrona has agreed to do an interview here on the Akamai Reader today! He is the author of The Whitechapel Gambit and the trilogy Moonlit Cities. The Moonlit Cities includes the titles Pale Queen’s Courtyard, Golden Feathers Falling, and When On High.

1. Was there a single event or catalyst that led you to your writing career?

I’ve always been interested in language in general, and in entertaining people, so it was more a lifelong process than a single event. Maybe the most immediate cause was dissatisfaction with the business world once I got out of university. I was in finance, and I spent much of my day shuffling numbers around a spreadsheet. From a certain angle, that doesn’t look much different from splattering Word with words, but I found I could never really point to something and say, “I did that. I created that.” Writing is challenging and fun, and there’s something enormously satisfying about having a final product and not just constant, endless process.

2. If you could sit down with your favorite writer, who would it be? What would you say?

I wish I’d had the chance to sit down with Kurt Vonnegut, not just because he seems like he’d be a hilarious person with whom to commiserate on The State of Things, but because I’d really love to know what he was slipping into editors’ drinks that made them take a chance on some of his (awesome!) oddball books. Alas, I’m a bit late for that. Nowadays, I’d really love to sit down with John Irving or Guy Gavriel Kay and just chat.

3. Do you prefer writing steampunk over straight fantasy?

I wouldn’t say that I have a preference. The Whitechapel Gambit was huge fun to write in part because it was a bit of a departure from my usual voice, but aside from the trappings–which are great fun–I don’t really see steampunk as an entirely separate genre. Ultimately, we’re still talking about speculative fiction, and The Whitechapel Gambit has stronger fantasy elements than most steampunk anyhow. I do love fantasy, mind, and I’m happy to sneak it into all sorts of things.

4. Where did you get the inspiration to use such a strong Mesopotamian influence in your Moonlit Cities series

I’ve always felt that Mesopotamia (and Persia in particular) gets short shrift in the Western conception of history. The Persian empire was not only effectively the first true empire, but it was surprisingly progressive in a lot of ways, once you get past the standard imperialist problems of killing people and taking their stuff. It’s massively, massively more important than a footnote before we start in on the Greeks and Egyptians, and as far as fantasy goes, it’s ripe for the plundering. Cool monsters, cool outfits, giant beards. We love that stuff!

5. How did you get the idea to put the city in The Whitechapel Gambit underground?

When I first started thinking about what eventually morphed into The Whitechapel Gambit, it was a completely different book: the initial idea was more of an alternate (steampunk) history in which an English doctor finds himself aboard a zeppelin hijacked by a chess-obsessed French anarchist and his protege. At some point, I decided I wanted to do something a little grimier and more punk than steam, and the plan changed. The anarchist turned into Sir Nicholas, and the setting turned into something a bit more Manchester-esque, but I don’t entirely remember how that went underground. I think it was a case of the cart leading the horse. I had this image of a city using mechanical suns, and it wasn’t until I thought about why they might need such a thing that I realized where we were.

6. How much background research do you like to do for your books?

I do (and then discard!) a lot of research. I find research always gives me a lot of interesting ideas and highlights the importance of themes I might not have stumbled upon myself. And it’s fun! That said, I’m not interested in verisimilitude for the sake of it. If I’m writing historical fantasy, I want it to feel historical, but I don’t feel bound to ape specific events, and I’m not beyond hacking history up if it would better serve the book. That’s one of the joys of fantasy, really. If I were writing straight historical fiction, I feel I’d have a responsibility to work with and around the facts. With fantasy, there’s more room for experimentation.

7. Can you talk about any works in progress you have going on and any future releases?

I just put the finishing touches on a second draft of a new fantasy novel, and one that’s intended to lay the groundwork for a shared setting for other novels (but not a true series structure; I find stand-alone novels more satisfying to write and read). It’s a tale of a shattered world, of islands that float above a century-long storm, and a woman and her airship crew who will find out how exactly that came to pass. It will most likely be ready for release at the end of July or beginning of August. After that, my plans include, in no particular order: a mafia movie in fantasy novel form, a sci-fi YA book or possibly short series, and some modern-day fantasy.

Thanks to Marcin for the interview!

Contact Marcin:


Purchase The Whitechapel Gambit




1. State of the Nation, July 2012 » crow on a wire - July 16, 2012

[…] An interview with me recently went up on the Akamai Reader, so check it out here and have a look at the […]

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