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Author’s Interview – Marcin Wrona July 6, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in Author Interviews.
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1 comment so far

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:

BLOG – TWITTERFACEBOOK

Purchase The Whitechapel Gambit

AMAZON

Author's Interview – Marcin Wrona July 6, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in Author Interviews.
Tags: , , ,
1 comment so far

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:

BLOG – TWITTERFACEBOOK

Purchase The Whitechapel Gambit

AMAZON

Review: Pale Queen’s Courtyard July 3, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Fantasy.
Tags: , , , , ,
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Title: Pale Queen’s Courtyard (Moonlit Cities)

Author: Marcin Wrona

Publisher: Marcin Wrona

Publish Date: April 23, 2011

ASIN: B004XTTVCC

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

Summary:

Leonine, a thief and a sorcerer, is on the run from the Hunt in the city of Ekka where sorcery is outlawed. Kamvar is a soldier in the Hunt and is now questioning his commitment and his oath to the Hunt. When their paths cross with a 9-year-old girl, a powerful sorceress in her own right, both men will learn who they truly are.

Review:

Pale Queen’s Courtyard is a book I picked up because I liked The Whitechapel Gambit so much.  I found I wasn’t disappointed in this book. This tale is an epic fantasy with sweeping descriptions of the rich landscape of Ekka. Ekka was inspired by conquered Mesopotamia.  You could almost taste the dates.

The characters in this story sprang to life with every word. From the slaves to the guards, you could practically smell the incense.

Leonine was particularly vivid. Despite his ruthless nature, he was entirely sympathetic for some reason that I couldn’t fathom at the time. I suppose he was a product of his environment. His sorcery was outlawed. His family had been ripped away from him because of it. He had to make his living through thievery and he was constantly on the run. When young Ilasin enters into the story you’re given even more reason to like him as he becomes endearingly attached to her.

Kamvar was a simpler character. He made an oath to his god to follow the dictates of his religion and hunt down Daiva, sorcerers, with his fellow Huntsmen. Unfortunately that oath gets questioned when he’s asked to hunt down a 9-year-old girl for the sake of politics.

Much of the plot takes place on diverse paths between Kamvar and Leonine’s adventures. There’s no sense of discontinuity though and it all flows very smoothly. The switching perspectives gives you alternate views of what it’s like to be the conqueror and the conquered. It also gives you differing perspectives of what it looks like from opposing sides of  history.

The action is pretty evenly paced. There aren’t many places in the story to get bored. There are one or two occasions when it does slow down but it’s not for lack of reason. Truthfully, those brief periods gave me a chance to catch my breath. I still thought the pace faltered here and there.

Between the world building and the character development, this book is definitely worth picking up. There are two more books in the Moonlit Cities series, but they’re stand alone books.

Review: Pale Queen's Courtyard July 3, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Fantasy.
Tags: , , , , ,
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Title: Pale Queen’s Courtyard (Moonlit Cities)

Author: Marcin Wrona

Publisher: Marcin Wrona

Publish Date: April 23, 2011

ASIN: B004XTTVCC

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

Summary:

Leonine, a thief and a sorcerer, is on the run from the Hunt in the city of Ekka where sorcery is outlawed. Kamvar is a soldier in the Hunt and is now questioning his commitment and his oath to the Hunt. When their paths cross with a 9-year-old girl, a powerful sorceress in her own right, both men will learn who they truly are.

Review:

Pale Queen’s Courtyard is a book I picked up because I liked The Whitechapel Gambit so much.  I found I wasn’t disappointed in this book. This tale is an epic fantasy with sweeping descriptions of the rich landscape of Ekka. Ekka was inspired by conquered Mesopotamia.  You could almost taste the dates.

The characters in this story sprang to life with every word. From the slaves to the guards, you could practically smell the incense.

Leonine was particularly vivid. Despite his ruthless nature, he was entirely sympathetic for some reason that I couldn’t fathom at the time. I suppose he was a product of his environment. His sorcery was outlawed. His family had been ripped away from him because of it. He had to make his living through thievery and he was constantly on the run. When young Ilasin enters into the story you’re given even more reason to like him as he becomes endearingly attached to her.

Kamvar was a simpler character. He made an oath to his god to follow the dictates of his religion and hunt down Daiva, sorcerers, with his fellow Huntsmen. Unfortunately that oath gets questioned when he’s asked to hunt down a 9-year-old girl for the sake of politics.

Much of the plot takes place on diverse paths between Kamvar and Leonine’s adventures. There’s no sense of discontinuity though and it all flows very smoothly. The switching perspectives gives you alternate views of what it’s like to be the conqueror and the conquered. It also gives you differing perspectives of what it looks like from opposing sides of  history.

The action is pretty evenly paced. There aren’t many places in the story to get bored. There are one or two occasions when it does slow down but it’s not for lack of reason. Truthfully, those brief periods gave me a chance to catch my breath. I still thought the pace faltered here and there.

Between the world building and the character development, this book is definitely worth picking up. There are two more books in the Moonlit Cities series, but they’re stand alone books.

Review – The Whitechapel Gambit May 27, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Steampunk.
Tags: , , , , , ,
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Title: The Whitechapel Gambit

Author: Marcin Wrona

Genre: Steampunk

Publisher: Marcin Wrona

Publish date: April 24, 2012

Available at: Amazon 

From Amazon:

When the Haversham sun grinds to a halt before dawn, Daniel (or David) Squeak expects that he and his fellow sunwell workers are in for an awful day. What he doesn’t expect is that a furious foreman will be the very least of his problems. One gear turns another, and Squeak finds himself injured, sacked from the only work he’s ever known, and afraid for his very life.

The mysterious Sir Nicholas offers Squeak a way out of his predicament, but this knight is no saint. As Sir Nicholas slides around the pawns and bishops of a decades-old plot, it’s Squeak who finds himself in motion: from sunwell to manor, from soot-stained Haversham to wealthy Rawlish, and even to the deadly jungles of the surface.

Workhouse lads are resourceful. Everybody knows that. But the bloody alleys of Haversham are not nearly as dangerous as the glittering avenues of King’s Court.

Review:

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

This Steampunk adventure was true to its genre. It didn’t just have token automatons inserted into the plot as background. They were an integral part of the story. That’s one of the things I found so delightful about this story.

Another thing I found so wonderful about this story was the alternating viewpoints of young Squeak to older Sir Daniel, who are one and the same. You can see his growth and progression from a workhouse lad to a young man of quality. Through it all he remains loyal to those he loves and to those he holds in esteem.

The whole cast of characters were colorful and full of life. From his childhood friend, Bing to Sir Nicholas, his mentor. They were all vividly portrayed. Even the Robins, who served as police in their society, were a blast of fresh air.

The action in the story was non-stop. It was one tumble down a winding path down another. That was a definite page-turner to say the least.

Another page-turner was the way the society and the world in which they lived in worked. I would say the world building wasn’t as polished as it could have been but you definitely got the feeling of a grimy, soot-stained underworld teeming with life.

I would have liked there to have been more attention paid to the upper surface tribes, but I still got  a sense of who they were and what they were about. I still got enough of an understanding so that I wasn’t totally left unsatisfied.

When I was done with the book, I was left a bit bereft at the thought that this might just be a stand-alone. I would have loved to continue on with the adventures of Squeak and his companions!