Next: Iron Thorn is set in an alternate 1950's. Can you talk a little bit about how you came to choose that particular era?
I'm a big WWII buff, but there's a LOT of alternate history centered around that era, so I wanted to try something different. I've always been really interested in the Red Scare as well, so I decided to take the McCarthy era, an era that's traditionally idealized by fiction and film but in reality was a time of strife and change (the beginning of the Cold War, the birth of the civil rights movement, fights for women's equality and gay rights) and inject a steampunk setting, imagining that the atomic age was replaced with something much more sinister, and that the totalitarian future McCarthy imagined actually came to pass.
It really does result in a place that's almost unrecognizable as the US--it almost feels like reading about totalitarian city-states.
Once I'd determined that steampunk devices had taken the place of atomic developments, it was pretty easy to extrapolate how the world would be--full of dissension, poverty and ruled with an iron fist by those lucky enough to profit from the aftermath of a magic-powered world war. And knowing that in THIS version of the world, there were other, supernatural worlds sitting side by side opened up vast possibilities for alternate paths history might have taken.
Thank you for the perfect segue. Speaking of the supernatural world sitting side by side with ours, talk to me about H.P. Lovecraft and how he came to be so much a part of this world. For readers who aren't up on their Lovecraft but who might be inspired to give him a try, would you make some recommendations?
I've always really enjoyed Lovecraft's stories. They're bleak and horrifying but at the same time very human, with powerful insight into the nature of humanity and sanity. For those beginning with his work, I'd suggest At the Mountains of Madness, Dagon, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, Herbert West: Re-Animator, Pickman's Model and of course, The Call of Cthulhu.
I always particularly liked The Shadow Over Innsmouth. It's probably time I re-read more of them.
I think steampunk has vast possibilities as a genre, possibilities a lot of authors don't exploit for whatever reason. Personally, I see no reason why steampunk and fantasy can't mesh, why you can't have a steam-powered clockwork city also inhabited by the Fae or a heroine with uncanny powers to control the machines that make up her world. I don't think there's a "right" or "wrong" way to tell stories in the genre--obviously, if you take it too far, it's no longer steampunk, but I don't think you need to be an obsessive purist to tell wonderful stories. Mixing fantasy and SF in Iron Thorn worked for me, and was the story I wanted to tell, and I think that's the most important thing.
I'd been thinking about writing YA for a while, and this was the idea that grabbed me. Aoife really spoke to me, and I knew I had to tell her story. It's a vastly different experience from writing adult, but I really loved it and I'm so glad I tried it.
What's next up for you, and when do we get to return to Aoife's story?
Next up for Aoife is The Nightmare Garden, which is coming February 14, 2012. We get to see the aftermath of the events in The Iron Thorn, find out more about Aoife's father and the secrets he's been keeping, more about Aoife's abilities, and of course, we spend a lot more time with Dean, which I hope will make readers happy--it sure made me happy!
Yeah, I restrained myself from talking about Dean because I didn't want to sound like a girl with a crush. It is VERY hard not to read this book and not develop a mad crush on Dean. Anything else you'd like to talk about?
Thanks for having me, and thanks for reading the books. And thanks to Kate for these great questions!