Friday, May 23, 2014

Meet Andrew Leon Hudson, Author of TDC 3: The Glass Sealing!

Available today!
1. What aspects of Southwatch are you exploring in TDC 3: The Glass Sealing? 

One of the things I love most in science fiction is the opportunity it presents to reflect facets of the real world, and at the risk of being too typically British I've zeroed in on issues of class--but I didn't want to present a superficial conflict between selfish rich fat cats and hard-working paupers. Although I was partly inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement (where the participants sometimes feel like they fall into such extreme categories!), in normal life people's ethics and motivations are rarely so clearly defined.

Nobody sets out to be "evil", but when conflicts arise we can all become the villain of someone else's story. In The Glass Sealing I present people from across the social spectrum who each strive for something "good" according to their means--personal improvement, social equality, startling achievement--but who find those aspirations compromised and are changed by the experience, sometimes much for the worse. They may become enemies, but they remain heroes in their own minds. 

But from good intentions can come terrible people...

2. What about the Darkside Codex world made you want to write The Glass Sealing? 

I was already a fan of Steampunk, Weird Westerns and other Alternate History fiction before I encountered the Darkside Codex. I immediately liked the hook of the Dark Cloud, of Southwatch's citizens being starkly divided into the privileged and persecuted by a physical barrier, not just sociological ones. Although this is an original, created world setting rather than the usual pseudo-Victoriana of many Steampunk stories, it seemed to me that it still had a connection to historical England; the industrial revolution created new wealth, new poverty and shook up the established social order, while London's pea-souper fogs could kill anyone caught in them unprepared. Southwatch may be fantastical, but it isn't outright fantasy; there is precedent, echoes of the real world, and I think that gives the series weight.

3. Is it easier or harder to write in a shared world? 

It's tricky to do, certainly, but coming to a world that already existed was a real source of inspiration, and I would say I enjoyed writing The Glass Sealing every bit as much as anything I've written beforehand. Maybe the real question is whether it is easier or harder to edit in a shared world. There may be rules going in, but while you're spinning out the story itself you only have yourself to answer to--it's after you finish that you truly have to toe someone else's line!

4. Who's your favorite character? And why? 

I'm pleased with how both my main protagonists developed, but I have to pick two others as my favourites. I used a number of underworld characters from the Darkside canon and it was great fun making each one distinctive, but the gang leader Black Tom O'Connor stood out. Finding a balance between his being charismatic and amoral, and making him not merely a dangerous criminal but also believably fearful of greater dangers--all that was very satisfying.

My other favourite is one of my characters: Ben Shay, who clawed his way (part way, at least) out of the slums only to find himself in the employ of Black Tom, and is forced to use his knack for going unnoticed by working as an eavesdropper and informant. In The Glass Sealing Ben is given a glimpse of what a better kind of life might be like, and in future stories I'd like to show what happens as he goes looking for one of his own.

5. What is your background as a writer? 

My original dream was to write for the movies. I worked in the prosthetic make-up department of a big budget scifi production straight out of university, got the bug, and spent the next few years writing scripts. Very bad scripts. I then studied a Master's degree in screenwriting and wrote some better ones, until the real world caught up with me and forced me to get a paying job. 

I switched my focus to writing novels in my spare time, then turned to short fiction in order to actually finish something. That made a big difference: I'd had story structure drilled into me, but now my prose improved and I settled on a style that I enjoyed. I got a few stories published and was just starting to tackle longer pieces again when the Darkside Codex came along, so I dropped everything else to give it a go--and I'm glad I did.

6.  How do we find you online? 

I maintain two blogs (that I'm willing to admit to): one with my writing news and links, another where I review books, films and anything else that takes my fancy. I'm not a feverish social networker, but I can also be found on Goodreads and Twitter from time to time.

Twitter: @AndLeoHud

7. Are you a Darksider or a Sunsider? 

Darksider, no question. I burn in the sun but the shadows can't hurt me!