The Electro-Addictive Moth-Flame is the second book of The Darkside Codex. Author Daniel Ausema takes the world in a whole new direction, penetrating into the desperate lives of Darksiders and opening the door to the academic and scientific realms in Southwatch. So let's introduce him to Darkside readers. You can purchase a copy of The Electro-Addictive Moth-Flame at the Musa Publishing website.
Addiction and mad science come together beneath the poisonous Dark Cloud of Southwatch!
An experimental operation by a shady scientist left Mellia immune to most electrical currents, but addicted to high voltage that pushes her to the edge of death. When she isn't chasing a fix in the factories and tunnels of Southwatch, she is an expert at fixing the wiring in broken gas masks.
A job offer from a professor offers what she needs most: money. As she fixes masks, though, she grows curious about his work. Can he really breed plants that will survive beneath the Dark Cloud of the city? The only way to test his theories is to travel into a region of the Cloud so foul that every mask fails. Running an electric current through the filters might be the last chance to keep their masks working, but that means Mellia has to go along with the professor and his students. Playing with electricity inside the abandoned levels of the city may be the last thing her addicted body needs.
- What first sparked your interest in the Darkside Codex?
I like fantasy worlds with a steampunk feel, so that caught my attention. It's such a rich era for telling all sorts of stories. That wasn't necessarily enough to get me writing, but then I read about the Dark Cloud and how it divides the city vertically, and I could see a lot of cool stories happening down beneath that toxic mess. Plus I'd worked with various people from Musa with stories in Penumbra, and such, so I knew that side of things would be a pleasure.
- What gave you the idea for Steam Monkeys?
One of the things I've always remembered from a high school history class about the industrial era was the kids who were forced to work in the factories because their small size was helpful for crawling into the small spaces and freeing a stuck part or fixing whatever needed fixing. So for me, those kids are always a part of any steampunk setting. In fact, I may have used the same phrase in my Spire City stories—the kids working in the factories are dismissively called steam monkeys and boiler rats (or is it the other way around?). So I simply used the same phrase here, but then Mellia's history became entwined in that, and the mechanical modifications became a part of what steam monkeys are in this place.
- What happens now for Mellia?
She'll always struggle with her addiction. I think she'll find a way to continue and even succeed, but it'll always be something that looms behind her, that she half wishes could still claim her. But despite that, I see her joining the faculty at Rootledge College and training people to manipulate electrical currents in new and surprising ways. Will she end up with Professor Simuel? I'll leave that question for readers to imagine.
4.Is it harder to write in a shared world than in a world you create yourself?
One of the things I most enjoy about writing is creating a strange and memorable place. So in that sense, a shared world is very different. I wouldn't want to only write in shared worlds. At the same time, there's something freeing in it. It takes a certain pressure off as I'm writing so that I'm free to explore things in different ways than I otherwise might. But no matter whether it's a shared world or something original, you can always be sure that I will bring that place to life. Readers will always feel themselves immersed in a place full of real cobbles and steam pipes, or whatever the story might demand, of realized people interacting with their locations and not merely performing in front of a static backdrop. Imaginary gardens with real toads, to steal that metaphor.
5. Are you planning to write another Darkside book?
Yes, probably. I'm currently reading through the revised Darkside Codex bible and deciding what might spark my interest next. I'm liking the underground farms this time. Hmm, what crazy things might be happening down there, and what secrets might be hiding?
6. What part of the world do you want most for someone else to write about?
Someone else? Hmm. Probably the underwater city of Atragon. Sounds like a fascinating place, and the mix of tension and cooperation with Southwatch should provide a lot of fodder for stories, but at this point it's not what I'm thinking I'll explore in my next story there.
7. What part of the world would be where you'd most want to be?
Far from the Dark Cloud! Someplace with mountains and forests and, especially, clean air. Within the city, though, probably the White Cliffs, among the artists, or else somewhere in the mix in University Heights. Intellectual stimulation and creativity, but ideally in a section of those neighborhoods that isn't too run-down or rough...
8 . So are you a sunsider or a darksider?
As a writer, darksider absolutely. I mean, sky pirates are beyond cool, and maybe I could be convinced to write about them, but it's beneath the Cloud where all the stories that really interest me will be taking place.
Daniel Ausema is the creator of the Spire City serial, also published by Musa, and has had short stories and poems appear in many places, including Penumbra, Daily Science Fiction, and Electric Velocipede. He is a stay-at-home dad and lives in Colorado.