What was the first idea you had for Kira, and how did the story grow from there? What inspired the bleak, post-apocalyptic alternate future depicted in your story?
With my memory, it’s always a struggle to answer questions like that! The first idea I think I had for Kira was Kira herself. I had a picture of her in my head, and when I was searching for steampunk images, I happened across some artwork that matched my mental picture almost perfectly. Every time I wondered what she’d say or do next, I’d look at the image and she’d tell me!
From there, the story unfolded itself, as usual. I knew I didn’t want her to live in the city of New Haven itself, so I gently guided it in that respect—otherwise, everything just happened on its own, with very little (read: “no”) planning.
The setting itself came about because I was interested in both the Victorian and wild west styles of steampunk, and I decided there was no particular reason I needed to be restricted to just one.
Since the Last War, which left the world devastated, the Government has rebuilt and advanced. The Wastelanders, on the other hand, live in shanty towns in the desert, and struggle to simply live through each day. Despite being so close to each other, this means the two areas are very different in nearly every way.
How did you go about developing your corset-sporting, sass-mouthed, tough-as-nails titular heroine?
I don’t recall making a conscious decision to have a girl as my main character—she just ran around the street corner as I was busy writing, threw herself into the story and decided that she’d be the heroine. Her obvious traits are her mouthiness and fondness for violence as a problem solver, but I wanted her to be a bit more behind all that. She’s not as confident as she seems—certainly in situations that can’t be solved with violence or swearing. She’s doesn’t have a huge amount of self-confidence. She knows her skills, but when it comes to any kind of acceptance of herself, it’s a different story.
This comes through mostly in her speech. Her natural way of talking isn’t particularly refined, but has changed over time to a slightly odd, refined cockney. This is because of a man, whose refined speech makes her feel stupid. She tried to emulate his speech somewhat, and pronounce words correctly in a misguided effort to be seen by him as intelligent.
It was interesting to see how different she is behind the tough façade. Not entirely easy, though, since I’m not a girl, and so don’t think like one.
Your previous book, and current work-in-progress, are both feature-length space operas. What was it like working with the smaller canvas of a novella?
The only time I’d tried a short story before was in school, in a mock exam. It wasn’t particularly short. I ended up not answering any other question, and I still didn’t finish the story. I think it involved a subway train, a lake and a duck. Maybe a goose. It wasn’t very good. Just as well it was a mock.
I wasn’t really expecting to be able to write a short story that was actually short, and still get in everything I wanted. It’s quite difficult to cut out everything that doesn’t further the story or characters, and still keep it feeling fluid.
On the other hand, a short story/novella is conducive to mystery. In a longer novel, it would be a lot harder to get away with not explaining things, and leaving it more of a “you’ll have to wait and see.” In Kira, there are several mysteries, the answers to which simply weren’t relevant to this particular story, so it’s acceptable to leave them unanswered…for now!
What are you working on now?
Now that Kira is out, all I have to focus on is book two of the NEXUS series. I’m coming near to the end of editing that now.
I have another short story waiting for me to go back to it, but it’s not like anything I’ve done before, so it’s not easy going at all. I also have to be in a certain mood to be able to write it, so it’s entirely possible it won’t see the light of day for anywhere between a few months to a few years!
But I still have the main series going—books three and four are planned, so I can working again as soon as book two is out.
Kira is available at: Amazon US (Kindle e-book), Amazon UK (Kindle e-book), Smashwords (multiple e-formats)