March 17, 2011

Unread Interview: Jack Hessey

So, today I'm starting a series of interviews, probably weekly, although I don't work well on a schedule, with authors whose books I couldn't accept for review, for one reason or another. I decided to give these authors some space either way, because I think it's fair. 

So, our first guest is Jack Hessey and his latest book is Steam Queen, a steampunk novel that sounds really interesting!

From Amazon: Europe is a dangerous, virtually lawless place. Armed bandits prowl the railway lines in their armed Steam Locomotive looking for easy marks, and heavily armed mercenary engines travel from town to town looking for work in a world where every day is a struggle for its civilians.

Erica, an emotionally disturbed girl from England finds herself joining one of these mercenary teams. What follows is a trek across Europe to where two mighty cities, each representing a different way of life, stand on the verge of a war which will shape the way Europe develops.

On one side are the Steam using traditionalists of St Vith, led by the charismatic and cunning General Roosje Cuvelier. On the other, stands the mighty Winterscheid Diesel Empire under the iron fist of the merciless Kaiser Sigmund Eisenburg.

Two vicious armies, treachery from her own allies and the world’s deadliest super-weapon are just a few of the dangers that Erica must face in her journey.

1. Tell us about your book (s)

Steam Queen: This is a steampunk novel set in an alternate universe where steam has evolved to be the world's major source of power and trains are used as weapons of war. Europe is a sort of almost lawless wasteland with railway lines criss-crossing the continent connecting all the little towns and cities. They're dangerous places to travel with bandits, mercenaries and hijackers preying on the trains travelling along.

It follows an emotionally disturbed girl called Erica who joins one of these mercenary teams and gets herself caught up in the middle of a war between a steam-using city called St Vith and a Diesel-power using town called Winterscheid. It's a sort of clash of cultures between the two and Erica quickly discovers that neither side is in the right and that in a war, both sides are capable of doing pretty nasty deeds.

On Angels Wings: A children's fantasy novel. It's a fairly light-hearted tale about a newly graduated Guardian Angel called Susie trying to protect Jill, a grumpy teenager. They both accidentally get on the wrong side of a rogue angel tasked with choosing people's destinies who sets out to kill Jill in revenge.

The rogue angel, Cassidy's attempts to kill Jill start out quite pathetic but eventually turn quite serious and sinister near the end. I sort of aimed for her to show just how far some people are willing to go in the name of petty revenge but, despite the somewhat dark ending, the book is pretty child-friendly and lighthearted. It's my mam's favourite of the two :)

2. Have you ever wanted to be a writer? When did you start writing "seriously"?

I’ve always enjoyed reading and always fancied writing. I just never thought I’d be any good at it though. In 2009 though I just had an idea hit me for a book and so decided to try writing one. It was easier than I thought. Once I started writing the ideas just started flowing. Steam Queen was my first novel, I finished it in March 2010 and in I think July/August, I got a contract from Lazyday Publishing.
I wrote On Angels Wings whilst submitting Steam Queen to agents & publishers and submitted that to Lazyday Publishing too which also got accepted.

3. Do you read much? What kind of books do you usually read?

I possibly read too much! My favourite genre's are fantasy, horror and war. They've got to have something about them which stands out though. Like, I can't read most vampire books purely because the genre is so overdone and most of the vampire books I've tried are so unimaginative. Likewise, I can't really read one of the many LotR knock-offs.

My favourite fantasy books are Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines quartet and The Harry Potter series. The Mortal Engines series are excellent, really unique in terms of the setting and the characters which feature. Harry Potter I love the world that Rowling created and, she is the best in the world imo at making the reader care about the most minor of characters. All the characters in her novels are memorable, right-down to bit-part guys like Stan Shunpike and Fenrir Greyback.

With horror I love Richard Laymon's books. Especially The Travelling Vampire show which is a really underrated novel. It's fantastic and I heard there's a movie coming out soon which should be fun. The setting of the novel was great, so creepy and full of strange things that happen which didn't get a full explanation in the book and which didn't play a huge part in the overall story. It just added to the whole atmosphere and feel for the book, giving it a lot of depth.

War books, I'm a fan of real-life biographies. Just finished reading Sniper One by Dan Mills which is his account of the siege of CIMIC House in Iraq. I can't recommend it enough.

4. What are your favorite or least favorite scenes to write?

I quite like writing both action scenes and, scenes with a lot of interaction between characters. I find both of them to be really fun to write. Especially when writing scenes for Erica (From Steam Queen) interacting with different characters in the novel. Because of her unique, odd personality it made it a lot of fun.

My least favourite has to be emotional scenes. I always struggle to write them and they take a lot of editing to get right. Also, I know I would suck at writing romance scenes so I just leave romance out altogether. My stories so far have worked without it anyway.

5. Do you relate more to any of your characters? Why?

Can't say I do really. Then again, I’ve never got the whole “relating to a character thing” Even in my favourite tv shows, book series, films, video games etc I've never really found characters to relate too. I always prefer the unique, quirky characters like Luna from the HP series and, Anya from Buffy the Vampire Slayer :)

6. Which genre do you feel it would be a challenge to write?

Romance and Erotica. I don't read romance at all and know any romance scenes would come out at George Lucas levels of tacky. Both genre's just don't appeal to me at all. I know I'd get giggly or something if I tried writing any smut since I'm a bit immature.

I don't even have small degrees of romance in my books because I'm worried it'll turn out lame. It's just something I'm not capable of doing.

7. What inspires you? And how's your writing environment - music, place, etc.?

Haven't really got an inspiration. I just think of something and write. Haven't really got a special writing environment either. I just do my writing either in my bedroom, in the living room or occasionally if I've got free time at College. There's no special atmosphere or setting or anything that I need to be able to write.

8. What would you say about the book - your words, no blurbs! - to convince someone to read your book?

The main character of Steam Queen kills a dog, beats up a child, cuts a man balls off, mutilates an enemy soldier, throws someone in a river, locks an enemy soldier in a sewer, kills two of her teammates, punished people for the slightest thing and yet still manages to remain interesting and gets the reader wanting her to succeed. She's awesome and I think she's a complete change from the cookie-cutter, good-guy characters who pop up in many YA books.

For On Angels Wings, it's a fun, light-hearted story about a useless, clumsy, Guardian Angel trying her best to protect (and annoy) a grumpy 15 year old girl whilst accompanied by a cowardly St Bernard Angel. It's just a fun book :)

9. What are your plans for the future, writing-wise? New books, sequels, publishing deals, etc.

At the moment I'm currently submitting a superhero novel called True Hero? It's about a media-icon/celebrity superhero who is the most popular hero in the world suddenly struggling to cope when she realises she is a fraud. I've also submitted a number of short stories for anthologies/magazines that I hope will get published. Currently, I'm just waiting to hear back before starting a new project. If True Hero? gets accepted then I'll start on a sequel to that, if not then I'll start a new novel or, do a heavy rewrite of the book.

Thanks for your time, Jack and best of luck with Steam Queen - I know I am dying to read it ;)
Here's to hoping it comes out in print or I can get a cool e-reader soon ;)