Please welcome Felix Gilman to the blog! Felix is the author of Thunderer, Gears of the City, and his newest novels are The Half-Made World and The Rise of Ransom City, which just came out! Felix was kind enough to take a moment to answer my questions and we’ve also got a copy of The Rise of Ransom City up for grabs to one lucky winner!
Your brand new book, The Rise of Ransom City, just came out! Will you give us a teaser?
First thing to say perhaps is that it’s a stand-alone sequel that follows a new character (he had a walk-on in the Half Made World but otherwise new) called Harry Ransom, Professor Harry Ransom if he thinks he can get away with it, the inventor of the Harry Ransom Lightbringing Process, who’s touring the frontier towns drumming up investors in his wondrous Process when he crosses paths with Liv and Creedmoor (who were the protagonists of the last book, and who have a TERRIBLE SECRET) and thereby gets caught up in the events of the Great War, loses his horses and his wagon and a boat, blows some things up, makes his fortune, visits the Big City, sells his soul, falls in love, blows some more things up, and encounters wolves, several deranged gunslingers, and a giant evil train.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a bit about your background?
As a small child, I used to hoard school notebooks and fill them with very very long stories that were straight ripoffs of whatever I’d read lately.
At university I talked a lot about being a writer, which isn’t the same thing. And I spent my twenties starting various things and not really finishing anything.
The first thing that I finished was my first book, Thunderer. I wrote it during a six-month period between jobs.
What do you love most about writing fantasy?
Trying to create a mood of strangeness, the uncanny, the weird, the grotesque. Playing around with myths and symbols and trying to make new ones.
What are some of your biggest influences?
Michael Moorcock is a huge influence, for mood and tone. Though I wish I could write as short and fast as he does.
Ursula LeGuin. Susan Cooper. Mervyn Peake. Alan Garner.
These are all things I read as a child, when you’re really susceptible to bone-deep influence.
What have been some of your favorite reads this year?
This question always embarrasses me because I’m always at least a few years behind the times. My favourite fantasy read this year was probably Steph Swainston’s Above the Snowline, which came out a few years ago. I’ve been re-reading Johann Huizinga’s The Waning Of The Middle Ages in connection with a new thing I’m starting now, and remembered what a beautiful, beautiful book it is. It’s an attempt to capture the “medieval mind” and it sort of reads like the very best sort of science fiction.
What are you reading now?
John Mandeville’s Book of Marvels and Travels, a 14th century account of the various marvels and wonders of the world. Mostly bullshit.
When you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
With the baby. Otherwise sleeping.
The New Year is right around the corner! What’s next for you in 2013?
I’ve got a recently-completed manuscript about Victorian occultists astrally projecting themselves to Mars (inspired by an account in Alex Owens’ fascinating history The Place Of Enchantment, another favourite book of the year). Tentative title: The Revolutions. It should come out late next year, touch wood.
I’m working on a new thing inspired by the John Mandeville book, in which a 14th century bookseller and illuminator goes on a long weird journey to France, the Holy Land, India, and the stars.
Keep up with Felix: Website
About THE RISE OF RANSOM CITY
This is the story Harry Ransom. If you know his name it’s most likely as the inventor of the Ransom Process, a stroke of genius that changed the world.
Or you may have read about how he lost the battle of Jasper City, or won it, depending on where you stand in matters of politics.
Friends called him Hal or Harry, or by one of a half-dozen aliases, of which he had more than any honest man should. He often went by Professor Harry Ransom, and though he never had anything you might call a formal education, he definitely earned it.
If you’re reading this in the future, Ransom City must be a great and glittering metropolis by now, with a big bronze statue of Harry Ransom in a park somewhere. You might be standing on its sidewalk and not wonder in the least of how it grew to its current glory. Well, here is its story, full of adventure and intrigue. And it all starts with the day that old Harry Ransom crossed paths with Liv Alverhyusen and John Creedmoor, two fugitives running from the Line, amidst a war with no end.
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