My Bookish Ways

Interview: Paul Crilley, author of The Lazarus Machine

I’m thrilled to have Paul Crilley on the blog today! Paul’s brand new steampunk adventure novel, The Lazarus Machine, is out on the 6th from PYR, and he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. 

Please welcome Paul to the blog!

Paul, your brand new book, The Lazarus Machine, comes out in just a few days! Will you tell us a bit about it?
It’s a steampunk mystery-adventure in the vein of Dr Who, Sherlock Holmes, Indiana Jones, and James Bond.

Sebastian Tweed and his father are conmen, and are currently making money by conducting fake séances for the rich and gullible. Octavia Nightingale is a junior researcher at The Times, and is trying to find out what happened to her mother, a reporter who went missing about a year ago.

During a séance that goes spectacularly wrong, Tweed’s father is kidnapped by a group of masked villains led by Professor Moriarty. When Tweed tries to find out what his father has gotten mixed up in, he comes into contact with Octavia, and they both realize their problems are linked. They decide (reluctantly) to team up, uncovering a conspiracy that is much, much larger than they first thought.

I read that you always wanted to be a writer. What’s one of the very first things you remember writing?
The first thing I wrote was a “novelization” of a Judge Dredd comic called The House of Death. I think I’ve still got it somewhere, handwritten and stapled together.

What do you love most about writing fantasy?
The fact that you can make everything up. There are no real limits. As long as it makes sense within the context of the world you’ve invented, the only thing stopping you is your own imagination. You can have cities built on the backs of massive dragons that fly across a water world. You can have people descended from the survivors of shipwrecks that have been swallowed into the gut of a colossal killer whale, living in a town made from the ruined boats. (If you wanted to.) You just have to come up with how they live. What they eat, that kind of thing. That’s where the fun lies.

What are some of your biggest literary influences?
I started out by reading The Hardy Boys when I was about nine. (Perhaps that’s why I love mysteries so much.) After that I moved on to Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams, then I pretty much read anything I could get my hands on. Besides Pratchett and Adams, my other influences are writers who have a real poetry to their writing, like Neil Gaiman and William Gibson. Let’s see. Who else? I love Elmore Leonard’s writing. His dialogue has a real zing to it. Plus Colin Dexter for his amazing Inspector Morse books.

Steampunk as a genre has really come into its own in recent years. Why do you think it’s so popular?
I’m not sure. Maybe because it’s still fresh enough that everything hasn’t been done yet. There are still so many variations within the genre that it doesn’t feel like everyone is treading on everyone else’s feet.

If you could read one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
Probably The Lord of the Rings. I read it when I was 13, and I remember it opening my mind as to what you can do in a book, how free you can be to create.

What are you reading now?
I read lots of book at the same time, and I pick up whatever I’m in the mood to read. Right now the pile by my bed consists of: A Storm of Swords, by George RR Martin. Breverton’s Phantasmagoria by Terry Breverton. London Lore by Steve Roud .The Hobbit (I’m reading it to my seven year old daughter, and she’s loving it). The Hydrogen Sonata, by Iain M Banks. Retribution, by Val McDermid. Restoration London, by Liza Picard, and How to Write a Damn Good Thriller, by James Frey,

In your bio, it says you were born in Scotland, moved to South Africa, moved back to Scotland, and now you’re in South Africa to stay. If someone were to visit you there for the first time, where would you take them? What do you love most about living there?
It’s a beautiful country. Really stunning. There’s a game park about two hour’s drive from where I live. A real, out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere park. No modern amenities. You take your tents and your food and you camp there, and hope you don’t get disturbed by lions.

When you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
Reading to my kids, watching movies, reading books, and playing computer games, and going to gym.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about upcoming projects or events (or anything at all!)?
I’m currently working on Tweed and Nightingale book 2, and it’s going well. The relationship between Tweed and Octavia has changed somewhat, as they are now quite good friends. So there’s more teasing and banter going on between them. I’ve also written another series set in Victorian London, called The Invisible Order. It’s about all the creatures of the Fae, (faeries, gnomes, and piskies and the like), fighting a thousand-year old hidden war in the streets of London, and the secret society of humans who are trying to stop them taking over. I’m really proud of the first two books, so if your readers happen to like The Lazarus Machine, Rise of the Darklings, and The Fire King are out there on the shelves to tide them over till next year.
Keep up with Paul: Website | Twitter

About The Lazarus Machine: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound
An alternate 1895… . A world where Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace perfected the Difference Engine. Where steam and Tesla-powered computers are everywhere. Where automatons powered by human souls venture out into the sprawling London streets. Where the Ministry, a secretive government agency, seeks to control everything in the name of the Queen.
It is in this claustrophobic, paranoid city that seventeen-year-old Sebastian Tweed and his conman father struggle to eke out a living.

But all is not well. …

A murderous, masked gang has moved into London, spreading terror through the criminal ranks as it takes over the underworld. As the gang carves up more and more of the city, a single name comes to be uttered in fearful whispers.
Professor Moriarty.

When Tweed’s father is kidnapped by Moriarty, Tweed is forced to team up with information broker Octavia Nightingale to track him down. But he soon realizes that his father’s disappearance is just a tiny piece of a political conspiracy that could destroy the British Empire and plunge the world into a horrific war.

About Paul (via his website):
Paul Crilley was born in Scotland in 1975 and moved to South Africa when he was eight years old. He was rather disappointed to discover that Africa was not at all like the Tarzan movies he watched on Sunday afternoons and that he would not, in fact, have elephants and lions strolling through his back yard. (Although he does have plenty of monkeys who raid his kitchen for fruit and bread.)

His parents being of a rather fickle nature, they decided to move back to Scotland in 1986, only to return once again to South Africa in 1988, where Paul has remained ever since.

Paul has always wanted to be a writer, and luckily for him his parents didn’t think it too strange that he spent every available moment reading. In fact, they pretty much encouraged it, making sure he always had new books to read, so a lot of what you see or read here is probably their fault.

When he was eighteen he met Caroline, and they have been together ever since. They have two children – a five year old daughter and a two year old son. They live in a village called Hillcrest, which is on the east coast of South Africa. They have two dogs and seven cats.

Although Paul loves writing Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction, he also likes to work in as many other fields as possible. He writes adult fantasy for Wizards of the Coast, (The Chronicles of Abraxis Wren, a crime/noir/fantasy mashup featuring the acrebic Abraxis Wren and his long-suffering assistant Torin). He spent most of last year working as a freelance writer on the Bioware/Lucasarts MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic, something of a dream come true for Paul, as he has always been a Star Wars geek. (His earliest movie-going memory is going to see The Empire Strikes Back when he was five years old.) Paul also writes for South African television.

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