I had the honor of reading an advance reader’s copy of Addleton Heights by author George Wright Padgett. In addition to that honor, I got to interview him for the release celebration!
Who did the cover art? How did you find them?
God bless the internet. I discovered a fantastic Italian artist by the name of Michele Giorgi (http://michelegiorgiillustrator.com). I have a commercial graphic art degree and have done my covers in the past, but Addleton Heights was different. This novel is solidly situated in the steampunk genre, so I wanted a classic romantic image with all the flourishes. While I do plenty of layout and design, I’m no illustrator; it’s an entirely different discipline, so I sought out someone with those skills.
I came across Michele’s art on the internet when I was a third of the way through the first draft and fell in love with his style. He hadn’t had any book cover commissions at that point, but I took a chance and contacted him in the hopes that he’d try something different. I emailed him with highlighted samples of his work which struck the tone I was looking for.
Many of the Steampunk images I’d come across to that point were often dark and grimy. I love those murky atmospheres, but wanted to go a completely different direction in an effort to make the book stand out. The end result is an image of bright sunshiny day in January with the snow gently falling to the ground. It’s wonderful contrast to many scenes contained within.
Is there any possibility of a graphic novel using the same illustrator in our future?
That would be amazing! I’d love to see that happen someday. Michele, if you’re reading this, I’m 100% up for it.
How much research was involved with writing a Steampunk novel set in the turn of the century (1901)?
Believe or not, I found myself doing as much research on this novel as I did for the space clone mining novel Spindown (www.georgewpadgett.com/spindown)
I tend to get caught into these perfectionist cycles where I compulsively need to know everything about the subject before putting anything on the page. The idea being that the more that I can understand the world that the characters exist in, the easier it is for me to immerse the reader into the scene. The end result is great because I get to transport the audience into the center of wherever I’m taking them; the downside is it’s a slower process. For instance, because I tend to go overboard, I now know all about the migratory birds of the Nantucket/Martha’s Vineyard area though there’s only two or three mentions of birds in the entire novel.
I’m not complaining; I love learning so the research was fun. A huge component steampunk stories is their connection to history/alternate history, so I spent time studying about the area’s whaling oil industry losing out to Pennsylvania coal as a source of energy, the use of immigrants for the transcontinental railroad, Queen Victoria’s death later in the month the story takes place, the Boxer Revolution in China, etc. Weapons play an important part of the story, so I spent time with weapons expert Drew Heyen to make sure everything was authentic. Hopefully there’s enough history in the book to satisfy the cravings of those that are looking for it, but not too much as to bog down the story for those that have come to it looking for a mystery-action experience.
How was writing Addleton Heights different than writing your other books?
First of all, it’s the first full-length work that I’ve written entirely in first person narration, meaning we only see what our detective hero, Kip sees and thinks. He tells us everything we need to know. He has this delicious deadpan sense of humor mixed with a bitter melancholy. Life has been hard on him and he’s developed all of these colloquial sayings that he spouts out when describing things. These ‘Kipisms’ (as I came to call them) were a blast to write.
Also, I wanted to be true to the genre while offering something enjoyable to those uninitiated to steampunk stories. While the steampunk genre doesn’t officially have any set rules, there are elements that help to frame the story. As the story developed, I sent chapter sections to a group of beta readers for feedback. Doing it while the novel was written, allowed for me to tweak it as I went to ensure everything was ‘firing on all cylinders’. As a bonus, one of beta readers, a fellow writer, Christian Roule was well versed in the genre. More than once, he’d respond to what I’d submitted to him by saying, ‘It needs to be steampunk-ier here’. He and others helped me balance the story and not overwhelm it until it became a gadgets manual.
I love that you cross genres and have not pidgeon-holed yourself as a storyteller. When did you first meet the world of Steampunk? Did you find the genre or did the genre find you? (Did you read something Steampunk that inspired Addleton or did Addleton birth itself in your brilliant brain that resulted in needing the Steampunk label post development?)
Years ago I was signing books at a science fiction convention with some other authors. We were sitting across from a friendly booth of steampunk ‘makers’. They were selling all of these fantastic clothes and enhancement components (cogs, gears, and whatnot). I asked fellow author, Leo King (www.foreverwhere.com) who was next to me ‘What this steampunk thing was all about?’ He proceeded to educate me in the ways of alternate Victorian history. It was such a fresh concept to me, and I’ve been a fan ever since.
As for the story of Addleton Heights? The concept that serves as the core mystery (finding the Jason character) was an idea that I when I was seventeen. I’ve carried the idea around with me all of that time until it found a home in this novel.
You write every sub-genre of the science fiction realm… are there dragons in our future? (I, for one, would love to see what you came up with involving dragons…)
Dragons, huh? Currently I’m hard at work on a kind of time travel hide and seek adventure called Drift Pattern, but I do have a rough draft for a story which involves dragons and people using them for transportation. The working title of this fantasy-ish tale is ‘Kern’. Maybe we’ll see that in a few years.
As a woman, I adore reading Janae. She’s bold and fierce, but not without flaws. She is not flat, but dynamic. She’s not all wonderful, nor is she a ninny. Tell me about her and your experience writing her.
I’m fortunate to have a number of strong women whom I admire in my life. I wanted to pay homage to these ladies by avoiding writing some messed up ‘damsel in distress’ trope.
Enter: Janae Nelson. She is a force of nature! She’s my favorite character that I’ve ever written. I spent a lot of time to achieve a balance within her of being strong without forfeiting her femininity. I was careful to make sure that no man ever rescues her in the story; that she would save herself. I attempted to turn the stereotype on its head by having the damsel do some saving of her own when the male lead gets tied to the metaphorical train tracks.
If Addleton Heights were to become a major motion picture tomorrow, who would your ideal cast be?
Oh this is a tricky one… When I write I do ‘cast’ the characters with actors from movie roles and people that I know (I even print out photos for reference as I’m writing about them).
The problem with sharing this type of thing with a reader is that it’s unlikely that we visualize the same exact ‘players’. If I envision a grisly Kurt Russell for an old sea captain character, but you imagine an unshaven Dustin Hoffman for the same part, then I reveal who I’ve chosen in the role, does it reduce or nullify your experience? As with painting, what’s on the canvas is a conversation between the artist and the person witnessing it. The viewer’s interpretation is neither ‘right’ nor ‘wrong’, but in the same vein, the creator of the art shouldn’t have exclusive say once the paint has dried. In that same spirit, I humbly must decline to answer here and leave that to the reader’s imagination.
You’re typically a one book storyteller, completing a story in its entirety at the first go. But I’m dying for more Addleton Heights – is there a continuing series in our futures?
Detective stories are typically based on a single event; if it’s a who-done-it the question is who the murderer is and possibly the ‘why’ of the mystery. One thing that’s nice about these types of novels is that once the case is solved there can be another one right behind it. So we may see Kipsey again someday.
How can readers order posters and prints of the book cover and map to go with their copies of the book?
Warmest thanks for your interest and support of Addleton Heights.
George Wright Padgett has done it again – blown my mind with an awesome and fun reading experience.
Addleton Heights will be his third published work, but it’s an epic debut into the Steampunk genre and the world he has built and the characters he created have me smitten.
Just like everything George tackles, he writes his detective story with artistic spunk. Flare abounds from start to finish.
I believe so much in this book, the story, and the time period, I’m obsessed with the idea of launching the book release at the Cabinet of Curiosities at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Of course, this launch is expensive (mainly because booking the museum after hours costs a pretty penny), but would be worth it.
So, Grey Gecko Press and I have set up a Kickstarter page. Please, please, if you appreciate my reviews, value my bookish opinions, and/or love supporting indie authors and publishing houses, check this out:
Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Genre: Science Fiction
The Martian is freaking amazing. Just as amazing, it seems, is the author Andy Weir, as I was just as entertained by his essay and interview in the back of the Broadway Books edition I was reading.
In addition to being clever and snarky, the book has a fun history. Originally it was self-published on a website. It got such a following that it was then released for kindles… and was so popular there that Weir got a book and a movie deal practically at the same time.
Oh, and, Weir loves Doctor Who, so there’s that.
I’m a little late to the game, I wish I had discovered him sooner so I could say something original and exciting about The Martian (I would have loved to interview him) – so this review will be short and void of spoilers. But if you’re in the mood for some suspenseful comedy set in space, all MacGyver style with the science, you need some Andy Weir in your life.
I can’t wait to see what he writes next. If you’ve already read The Martian, you might also want to check out the work of Heinlein and/or George Wright Padgett.
In case you haven’t seen it yet – here’s the movie trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ue4PCI0NamI
I loved Spindown – almost as much as I love the author, George. Recently, he asked me to read his latest novel that will be released to the public in November. It’s amazing! But I’ve had to keep my blogger mouth a little quiet about it, until now…
Welcome to the Cruel Devices cover reveal:
Be prepared to purchase November 30th, 2014. It’s exciting work, and if you’re a Stephen King fan, this one is definitely for you!
Title:A Fancy Dinner Party
Editor: Hilary Comfort
Publisher: Grey Gecko Press
Genre: Thriller/ Horror
Length: 184 pages
For nearly two years now, I have had the joy of being acquainted with a small, local publishing company called Grey Gecko Press. As a whole, they are fun and spunky, and I enjoy both hosting events for them and attending ones where they are present.
At one of the more recent signings, Jason Kristopher handed me a copy of A Fancy Dinner Party. I was warned not to read it too late at night – or when I was alone.
I took my time with it, limiting myself to only one or two stories per sitting. The anthology features ten different authors, a fantastic forward by Jonathan Maberry, all neatly packaged and edited by Hilary Comfort and the folks at Grey Gecko Press.
I did read it at night. But I did not read it alone!
These stories are a lot like the group who wrote them, spunky and fun – even when they’re scaring the crap out of you. I enjoyed the anthology, I love that I have a copy signed by all the contributors and would highly recommend it to short story lovers…
and science fiction lovers… and readers of fantasy, and horror, and thrillers…
As the back jacket says, there’s even a bit of Americana and Japanese folklore. The book has so much to offer and is a prime example of Grey Gecko Press, yet again, putting their best foot forward. I especially liked the dedication at the front: “For all the new and still-struggling authors whose stories have yet to be told.”
With the chapters arranged like a menu and a forward urging us to “Sit back, tuck in your napkin […] and dig into this bizarre feat,” the book keeps the menu theme alive from start to finish. Well done.
As a reviewer of an anthology, I can’t just stop there and fail to mention one crucial point – my favorite course, of course!
GGP managed to save the best for last: George Wright Padgett
I loved his story The Arrangement and it was truly the cherry on top of a very disturbing dessert!
The ebook of A Fancy Dinner Party is $2.99, well worth the download. Good luck reading alone.
I love this man. Check out the Interviews tab to find my own interview with George Wright Padgett.
Name: George Wright Padgett
Age: Acts like: 9 1/2 Actual: Middle-aged
Where are you from:
A little about yourself; ie your education Family life etc:
I’m a husband (25+ years) and father of two children (13 year old girl/10 year old boy) a jazz piano player, a graphic artist, and sometimes a playwright. I also live with a mini dachshund that goes by Jenny.
Tell us your latest news?
My first horror novel, Cruel Devices is in the hands of the editor and is due out this winter. I also just signed a contract for a 2016 release of a steampunk detective novel entitled Addleton Heights. Both are being released by a small press publisher in Katy, Texas known as Grey Gecko Press.
When and why did you begin writing?
Looking back over the years I’ve always enjoyed telling stories. Only recently did I realize that I’ve unofficially…
View original post 1,785 more words
Author: George Wright Padgett
Publisher: Grey Gecko Press
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: 372 pages
There are books you read and love but cringe when someone suggests they make it a movie. What if they screw with the magic? What if they ruin it? But there are some books that as you read, before you even finish the book, just BEG you to become a movie one day. That’s Spindown.
Visually striking, the novel drops you right into the action from the first page, dripping with images of a future on the largest moon of Jupiter where clones are created to function their entire existence as slaves on a mining outpost. The writing style reminds me of Robert A. Heinlein (author of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress) and Gershom Reese Wetzel (author of Teres, which is unfortunately not available for the public yet); and the story reminds me of some of the more futuristic sides of Doctor Who (episodes like The Rebel Flesh, and such).
Always a sucker for dystopian societies, I love the premise and the journey these characters have from mindless machine-like worker bees to passionate beings with more than a vague idea of what is means to be “dormant dead” and no Hemlo to suppress emotions.
I had the pleasure of meeting George Wright Padgett at Comicpalooza this year. His publisher, Grey Gecko Press, had a booth there. In all the hoopla la and excitement, he had a personality that stood out in a crowd and after gathering some information on his book, I was able to set up signings with him at Half Price Books.
The signing at the Humble location was a blast. Grey Gecko Press brought a banner to put up in the store which looked pretty stellar, the book trailer was running on a flat screen in the background, and we had cupcakes from The Martin Epicurean. Pulling off fun events in a bookstore has just as much to do with planning and organization as personality and conversation with the author themselves. Padgett is quite entertaining and could be an event in himself with or without the book!
So this past weekend at the convention, I was approached by a guy who said his name was Tom Padgett and that his son’s name was Tommy Padgett. He told me that he saw the banner (pictured) that bore his last name, and was thrilled to see another ‘Padgett’ as the author. I don’t know if he (or Tommy) even cares for the sci-fi genre, but he bought a book simply on the sir name.So here’s my strategy for my next three projects: Each novel will be released under a different pseudonym in hopes of securing higher sales from the consumers that buy books based on their own last names. Be sure to tell your friends, family, and co-workers to be on the lookout for new books from ‘George Smith’, ‘George Davis’, and ‘George Johnson’. We’re gonna sell millions now that we’ve got this figured out!