You ask me about the meals in my stories. The friends dine together a lot. In my life I love to eat. Eat out, eat in, good food cooked well. But sharing the experience, that adds quality of life. I love to eat out with friends, or to cook a meal for them, or to be cooked for. Good food, good wine, good friends it’s the stuff of life. Location too is important. Dining, like life is all about ambience, mood. You can find it, you can create it, you can enjoy it. When you get it you have to be a part of it, like being an actor in a play or a film. One of the differences I found going to Steampunk conventions in different countries. In some places the visitors dress up in their bowler hats, goggles, boots, ladies in extravagant dresses. They are into the ideas, the stories of Jules Verne, Phillip Pullman, Cory Doctorow. They assume a character they have created and stay in character all weekend. They create and share in an ambience. In some other places, Steampunk is just a tribe fashion, like mods and rockers.
When I wrote the Rabbit Chronicles, a lot of events and characters were based on real people, real events. I still do that a little. A trip to London or Stockholm will inspire elements of stories. A few characters are based on people I know, friends. Mostly now it’s imaginary characters and events.
When I was writing the Rabbit Chronicles, which I started at a Swedish Sci Fi / Steampunk convention, the story started at that convention, with people I met there. If anyone gave me their email address I used to send out a weekly chapter from the new book. The main villain in the book is based on a guy who emailed me back a few times because he liked the stories. I asked him if he wanted to be in the book, and did he want to be a hero or a villain. So the Hrym was born.
I had about twelve characters and because the friends dining together was so important, and as I was returning to Swecon the following year, I invited all the real people out to dinner at Linkoping at my expense. Three from England and eight from Sweden. We had a great dinner and it became part of the book. The ones who turned up in real life are the ones in the story who survived. I finished writing the book the next day.
Yes, my own character died quite early on. I wasn’t comfortable writing about myself, even if it is imaginary. The surviving characters have reappeared in what is now a trilogy. The Adventures of Miss Ann Thrope is my second book in the trilogy and I hope to have the third book ready for July, six weeks from now.
Even during the last few days, in Stockholm, I have written every day. I’m off to Uppsala tomorrow for the convention. Looking forward to meeting old friends.
My next project. Well, as I said, the third book is going well. My friend Faramond Frie will be at Swecon signing books. He arrives tomorrow. We are working on a graphic project together which we hope has potential for the future. As well as a writer he is a great artist and has done the covers for my last two books. We were at a Sci Fi convention in Ghent, Belgium, a few years back where we were just across the aisle from his childhood inspiration, Ian Gibson, who worked on the Judge Dredd comics. He got to spend half an hour talking to him. Whether it’s in the pages of a book, or your life, it’s an amazing adventure. You get to choose.
Thank you very much.