close

The Qwillery | category: David Barnett

home

The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

qwillery.blogspot.com

Interview with David Barnett, author of Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl - September 19, 2013


Please welcome David Barnett to The Qwillery. David's most recent novel is Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl.







TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

David:  Well, thank you for having me! I quite like the big full moon you have here all the time; I think the light’s quite flattering.



TQ:  Why and when did you start writing and what is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

David:  I suppose, like probably a lot of other writers, I was one of those kids who read voraciously and writing my own stories just seemed a natural, automatic extension of that. It never really occurred to me, though, that “writing” could be a job, or at least a vocation to aspire to. I wrote a truly awful fantasy novel when I was about 17 which is locked in a leather case in my attic and will never come down from there. I don’t even think I sent it off to anyone. I just thought writers were people other than me. I suppose I started writing “properly”, ie with an intention to get published, when I reached the age of about 29 or 30 – I think I felt I’d had enough “life” by that point to be able to put something into my writing. As to the most challenging thing – finding time to write. No, that’s not correct, making time to write. With a full-time day job (as a journalist) and a family, writing fiction has to be slotted into life, and that generally means you’ll find me hunched over a keyboard very late at night.



TQ:  What was your inspiration for Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl?

David:  A whole bunch of stuff – Victorian adventure novels, pulp fiction, the penny dreadful story papers of the Victorian era, modern adventure classics such as the Indiana Jones movies. I threw all of that into the pot and Gideon Smith is what came out – I wanted to write something with a lot of derring-do and adventure, but with contemporary sensibilities. Hence it’s not just adventure for adventure’s sake, but a mild look at the nature of heroism, too. Though without getting in the way of the adventure!



TQ:  How did you develop your world for this novel? How much research did you do?

David:  I knew I wanted an alternate-history setting, and that started with the basis of the British Empire pretty much as it was in 1890, but with a little more influence in the rest of the world. The “steampunk” trappings of advanced technology (for the era) are there to expedite the story, not merely as flavouring. Thus we have airships, which help me move my characters quickly around the globe, and automatons. Perhaps the biggest alternate-history idea is that the American revolution never really happened and Britain retained control over the East Coast of America. There are lots of factions in Gideon’s America, with New Spain holding what we know as Mexico and a breakaway Japanese faction on the West Coast. That is explained in more detail in the second book. Naturally, all this required a lot of research, but once I was happy that what I wanted to do could be logically extrapolated from what really happened, I threw most of it out of the window and let my imagination take full flight.



TQ:  How did you decide which historical figures you wanted to appear in the novel?

David:  I knew that Bram Stoker was going to be a major character from the off because I wanted the book to leap off from the point he – in real life – was holidaying in Whitby and got the inspiration to write Dracula, in July 1890. After that other real-life figures – and characters from Victorian fiction – kept popping up. If they fit the narrative and the story then I’m happy to have them on board, but I don’t want to shoe-horn real personages in just for the sake of it.



TQ:  You have quite a bit happening to your two main characters. How did you keep their separate plots separate and then did you find it difficult to bring them back together?

David:  It wasn’t really difficult, to be honest; Gideon and Bram Stoker’s stories are entwined at the beginning and then diverge, coming together again for the final act. To be honest, Gideon was always meant to be the focus of the novel but other characters – Stoker especially – began to establish themselves more and more during the writing of it. I’m quite a loose planner, preferring to create a framework for the novel and then letting the story breathe a bit and take its own directions, so I was quite pleased (and somewhat relieved) when it seemed to all work out.



TQ:  You have managed to successfully merge traditional fantasy elements with steampunk. How did you stop yourself going to far in one direction or the other?

David:  It was an intuitive thing, really. I didn’t measure the different elements out as though I was baking a cake; it was more a case of what felt right. Gideon’s world isn’t a great deal different from ours, aside from the alternate history and the different tech. But to the average person, who can’t afford to fly in airships and never sees an automaton or anything wondrous, it’s pretty much just the Victorian era as it was experienced in real life. The supernatural and fantastical elements happen in the shadows and below the surface.



TQ:  You leave us with quite a cliff hanger at the end of Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl. Is there a series planned or will you leave this to our imagination?

David:  There is indeed – two sequels, in fact. Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon will be published by Tor in 2014, and picks up the story straight from the end of the first book, taking Gideon off to explore America. Book three is due out in 2015 and brings Gideon back to London to explore the seamy underworld – quite literally – of the seat of the British Empire. Obviously I can’t give too much away as book one has only just come out, but there might be dinosaurs. And giant steampunk robots. That’s all I’m saying.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

David:  No, thank you! It was lovely to be here!






Gideon Smith

Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl
Gideon Smith 1
Tor, September 10, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Nineteenth century London is the center of a vast British Empire. Airships ply the skies and Queen Victoria presides over three-quarters of the known world—including the East Coast of America, following the failed revolution of 1775.

London might as well be a world away from Sandsend, a tiny village on the Yorkshire coast. Gideon Smith dreams of the adventure promised him by the lurid tales of Captain Lucian Trigger, the Hero of the Empire, told in Gideon’s favorite “penny dreadful.” When Gideon’s father is lost at sea in highly mysterious circumstances Gideon is convinced that supernatural forces are at work. Deciding only Captain Lucian Trigger himself can aid him, Gideon sets off for London. On the way he rescues the mysterious mechanical girl Maria from a tumbledown house of shadows and iniquities. Together they make for London, where Gideon finally meets Captain Trigger.

But Trigger is little more than an aging fraud, providing cover for the covert activities of his lover, Dr. John Reed, a privateer and sometime agent of the British Crown. Looking for heroes but finding only frauds and crooks, it falls to Gideon to step up to the plate and attempt to save the day...but can a humble fisherman really become the true Hero of the Empire?

David Barnett's Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl is a fantastical steampunk fable set against an alternate historical backdrop: the ultimate Victoriana/steampunk mash-up!




You may find the review of Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl here.


There are 2 Gideon Smith short stories:

Work Sets You Free
Tor, August 21, 2013
eBook, 32 pages

"Work Sets You Free", by David Barnett, is an original short story featuring the protagonist of the forthcoming novel Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl (Tor Books [US] and Snowbooks [UK], September 2013). Gideon is a young fisherman in Yorkshire, England, in an alternate 1890, who embarks on a journey to find Captain Lucian Trigger, the famed Hero of the Empire, to deal with a mystery plaguing his home village. This story takes place as the naive Gideon sets off for London, but on the way encounters a very dark side to the British Empire's insatiable hunger for resources...



Business as Usual
Tor, September 4, 2013
eBook, 32 pages

Spring, 1890, and England needs a hero. Gideon Smith is yet to step up to the role as public protector of the Empire, but in the background and the shadows, Mr Walsingham pulls strings to keep the often outlandish threats to Britain and her interests at bay. It is a role that lies heavy on his shoulders, and here we find him composing his end-of-year report to Queen Victoria. Business As Usual is a standalone short story that takes place some months before the events of the forthcoming steampunk/Victoriana novel from Tor Books (Snowbooks in the UK), Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl, which is published in September.





About David

DAVID BARNETT is an award-winning journalist, currently multimedia content manager of the Telegraph & Argus, cultural reviewer for The Guardian and the Independent on Sunday, and he has done features for The Independent and Wired. He is the author of Angelglass (described by The Guardian as “stunning”), Hinterland, and popCULT!. His website can be found at http://davidbarnett.wordpress.com

Website  ~   Twitter  @davidmbarnett  ~  Google+

Release Day Review: Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl by David Barnett


Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl
Author:  David Barnett
Publisher:  Tor, September 10, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
Price:  $14.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780765334244 (print)
Review copy:  Provided by the Publisher via NetGalley

Release Day Review: Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl by David Barnett
Nineteenth century London is the center of a vast British Empire. Airships ply the skies and Queen Victoria presides over three-quarters of the known world—including the East Coast of America, following the failed revolution of 1775.

London might as well be a world away from Sandsend, a tiny village on the Yorkshire coast. Gideon Smith dreams of the adventure promised him by the lurid tales of Captain Lucian Trigger, the Hero of the Empire, told in Gideon’s favorite “penny dreadful.” When Gideon’s father is lost at sea in highly mysterious circumstances Gideon is convinced that supernatural forces are at work. Deciding only Captain Lucian Trigger himself can aid him, Gideon sets off for London. On the way he rescues the mysterious mechanical girl Maria from a tumbledown house of shadows and iniquities. Together they make for London, where Gideon finally meets Captain Trigger.

But Trigger is little more than an aging fraud, providing cover for the covert activities of his lover, Dr. John Reed, a privateer and sometime agent of the British Crown. Looking for heroes but finding only frauds and crooks, it falls to Gideon to step up to the plate and attempt to save the day...but can a humble fisherman really become the true Hero of the Empire?

David Barnett's Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl is a fantastical steampunk fable set against an alternate historical backdrop: the ultimate Victoriana/steampunk mash-up!



Melanie's Thoughts:

The story starts innocently enough with Gideon and his father aboard their ship fishing. Gideon's mother and brother had died years before leaving the two alone together. It is a significant blow when the one constant in his life, his father, mysteriously disappears at sea. Buoyed on false courage Gideon goes in search for the one man he is sure to help him exact revenge for his father, Captain Trigger, hero of the Empire and star of the penny dreadful series that he loves. Captain Trigger is not the dashing hero that Gideon expects but he too has a missing loved one. Gideon and Trigger work together to find their friends, avenge those they lost and try to save the Empire in the process. Danger lurks on every corner and Gideon risks life and limb to uncover the truth.

When I first started Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl I thought I had made a terrible mistake. I love steampunk and most Victoriana but Gideon didn't gel with me. I thought the character was absurdly naive by believing the hero from a penny dreadful could actually be a real person. Well...that was at first and then I was gripped. I waited what seemed an age until Gideon met his mechanical girl the form of the lovely Maria. Rescuing the mechanical heroine of the tale was a turning point in the story as Gideon seems to grow up almost overnight. The book's prologue gives us a hint at who Maria actually is but it takes much longer for Gideon to find out the truth. His quest to rescue Maria and to find out what happened to his father forces Gideon to face some quite horrific facts and as a result make him grow up. Gideon's other companions are well rounded and one even has a whole side story on their own.  I don't want to give away who turns up to help Gideon on his quest as it is a fantastic surprise as to who comes on board to help the hapless hero.

Barnett has created a richly detailed world with fun and surprising characters. I normally treat books that merge fantasy and steampunk with trepidation as it takes an extremely clever author to do this well. I can tip my hat at Barnett's valiant effort to create a story that so successfully combines fantasy and steampunk/Victoriana. There is a lot happening in the plot with characters that you love, and those that you want to dislike but they worm their way into your affections. I can't even begin to describe them all as it gives too much away. What I can say is that Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl is a cornucopia of fantastical fun. Jump on board and join Gideon on the adventure of a lifetime.

Melanie's Week in Review - September 08, 2013


Melanie's Week in Review - September 08, 2013



Forgive me readers for I have sinned. I bought more books rather than reading something from my TBR collection. Plus, I wantonly bought books from Kindle recommendations purely because they were less than £2. I will do better next week! So what did I read?


Melanie's Week in Review - September 08, 2013
I started my book buying bonanza with MacRieve by Kesley Cole which is book 13 of the Immortals After Dark series. I don't normally like this type of PNR but I started reading this series on a recommendation by a friend and now determined to finish it. I am also slightly intrigued to find out who is going to be the ultimate bad guy when so many of the baddies are fighting on the good side. I also liked the front cover. I think the model on the front cover is more how I imagined MacRieve to be rather than the 'hotter' he is described in the book. Second book I bought on a whim was The Alpha's Daughter by Jacqueline Rhoades. I was looking for a quick, 'easy on the brain' read and while this book did live up to that criteria it was just a tad dull. Spending chapters reading about painting and decorating was not my idea of a gripping or compelling read. I am not even going to give you the title of the third book I bought because I am too embarrassed that I bought a book that was sooo bad. I tried to get past page 50 but couldn't do it. I am not a prude but the language was incredibly crude and vulgar. I thought from the book description it was going to be light-hearted and a bit funny, but what I got was something that made me feel like I had been rolling around in a gutter outside a brothel.


Melanie's Week in Review - September 08, 2013
I gave up on my new books and finished Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl by David Barnett. I am reviewing this book next week so keep a look out for it. All I can say is that it was a delight in comparison to what I had been reading.


Melanie's Week in Review - September 08, 2013I am finishing the week on a high and all thanks to Cassandra Rose Clarke and The Assassin's Curse.  I cannot put this book down I am loving it so much. I also loved The Mad Scientist's Daughter and I think Clarke is going to get on my favourite authors list. If you haven't read either of these books then you need to drop whatever you are doing and get them. Clarke is a fantastic storyteller and has an amazing imagination. I think I am going to leave you there as I need to get back and finish this book. I hope you find a book you enjoy as much as I have. Until next week Happy Reading.

Melanie's Week in Review - September 1, 2013


Melanie's Week in Review - September 1, 2013


Happy Labor Day weekend! I hope you are getting lots read on your extra long weekend.

I just deleted my almost complete 'week in review' so rather annoyed with myself and trying desperately to remember what I just wrote. I am not sure what combination of buttons I pressed instead of hitting the 'italics' button but it was enough to delete the whole thing and then saved a 'n'. *Please insert frustration tears here*

Melanie's Week in Review - September 1, 2013
BUT anyway...I digress back to books. I finished reading Delia's Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer. I am planning to have my review up soon so don't want to give too much away. Another book that I am planning to review is Blood Warrior by Lindsey Piper. It was in my box of goodies that I received from Qwill a couple of weeks ago and decided I needed a quick read book. I read book one of the Dragon Kings series, Caged Warrior back in June which I thought was just OK. As I am hoping to have a review for you soon I don't want to say too much other than I feel the series is improving....slowly but improving nonetheless.

Melanie's Week in Review - September 1, 2013I read, either on Twitter or their blog, that Ilona Andrews were going to remove the Curran POVs from Amazon because of too many complaints about typos. As someone who is a tiny bit obsessed by this series I promptly re-read both of the POVs. I can't figure it out. I read the first one really slowly to try to spot the mistakes and while I thought they weren't quite as polished as the full length books there wasn't that much to complain about. I don't think I am that unobservant but perhaps I have a typo blind spot when it comes to this series. Not wanting to be daunted I then had to read half of Gunmetal Magic. I was supposed to be cleaning my bedroom at the time so thought I deserved a cheeky re-read of this book. I continued my Ilona-Andrews-re-read-athon by reading a short story called Alphas Origins from Angels of Darkness featuring Nalini Singh, Meljean Brook, Sharon Shinn and of course, Ilona Andrews. Every time I read this story I am not sure why more isn't made of it. I think it is another excellent example of how well Andrews can write both science fiction and UF. If you haven't read this short story and like the author then I urge you to give it a go. I dare you not to like it.

Melanie's Week in Review - September 1, 2013
I am not a fan of short stories but I kept on going by reading The Mysterious Case of Mr Strangeway by Karina Cooper. This is a prequel to the Cherry St Croix series and goes back to when Cherry is just fifteen and starting out as a collector. I quite enjoyed it and made me really look forward to reading Corroded which is the next full length book of the series and which I am super lucky to have received from NetGalley. I am very nervous however, about this next book as I was almost depressed at the end of book two, Tarnished.

I also started Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl by David Barnett. It has already captured my attention by being very unusual and not what I was expecting. Fingers crossed I will finish it this week. On that note, I think I better get to it and leave you to enjoy whatever it is you are reading.  Until next week Happy Reading

Melanie's Week in Review - August 4, 2013



Melanie's Week in Review - August 4, 2013



Melanie's Week in Review - August 4, 2013 This was a fairly unproductive week on the reading front. Well, marginally unproductive. My best friend was over from Australia and we ended up doing some cultural stuff like going to Tate Britain and some not so cultural stuff like going to see Pacific Rim and riding this funfair ride on the Southbank. It was fun but only lasted 1.5 minutes. I guess that is less time to get vertigo.

My love affair with the Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan continues with my very own reunion reading of the series.  I have been reading Rise of Empire this week. I am not finished with it but hope to be early next week.  I have been trying to not rush reading them and as they are actually 2 books in one so they take longer to read than I think they should when I start out. Several months ago I sponsored Sullivan's newest book - Hollow World through Kickstarter and guess what?  He has released the ARC. It's a while before it will be released but I am super excited about being part of this literary adventure.

Melanie's Week in Review - August 4, 2013
Those of you who read my Week in Review last week will know that I started Broken Elements by Mia Marshall. I quite enjoyed it and so moved onto reading book 2, Shifting Elements. There were some really funny lines in this one and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I will be reviewing both of these books soon so I won't be giving too much away.

I also got some 'goodies' from NetGalley this week including A Thousand Perfect Things by Kay Kenyon, Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl by David Barnett and Delia's Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer (who is a featured author in the 2013 Debut Author Challenge). I am excited about reading these three books....and a few others I have in my TBR.  Perhaps I better get started.

Until next week Happy Reading!

Interview with David Barnett, author of Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl - September 19, 2013Release Day Review: Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl by David BarnettMelanie's Week in Review - September 08, 2013Melanie's Week in Review - September 1, 2013Melanie's Week in Review - August 4, 2013

Report "The Qwillery"

Are you sure you want to report this post for ?

Cancel
×