Monday, July 4, 2016

Interview with Steven Guscott, author of The Book of Prophecy

Today, the Speculative Fiction Showcase has great pleasure in interviewing Stephen J. Guscott, author of The Book of Prophecy

What first made you want to be a writer?
I was going through some difficult times with my health at the end of 2009 and needed something to occupy my brain that wasn’t physically demanding. I had always loved reading and thought it would be fun to write a story. A few weeks after that thought some ideas came to me and the next four days were spent writing characters, plot and ideas for my first story.

How did you create the world of The Book of Prophecy?
I honestly didn’t think much about it. I started writing and the world, environment, and setting were just there. In hindsight I have seen the influences that I unconsciously drew from; it was fun realising a lot of these after the story was written.

What comes first for you: characters, plot or world-building?
Normally it’s ideas and themes. I like writing about perspectives, ideologies and philosophies, and mixing various ones together to see how they play out through characters and in a new world.

Your main characters are three brothers with extraordinary powers. How does this affect the way they relate to each other as brothers, and how does that move the events of the story?
The powers are a catalyst. Dragatu, Phoenon and Unilus don’t get them until halfway through the story so their relationships develop without them first. Once they get the powers things can then either continue as they were, whether good or bad, or change because of this new dynamic. Notice how cryptic I’m being, I’m trying not to give anything away but still answer this great question.

Is it a stand-alone book or will there be a sequel?
The series is called The Chronicles of Elementary, and will be six novels. The next story, The Heart of Nature, is well on its way to being finished. 

Tell us about The Diary of V. Frankenstein. What is your take on the story, and why do you think it continues to grip the imagination?
The Diary of V. Frankenstein follows the idea that Dr. Frankenstein created both the male and female creations, and that they kept their promise to go far away from humanity. The story continues decades after this when Victor is in his twilight years. He hears news that brings up forgotten fears about his creations, and with his son Vincent he goes to investigate.
   The Diary of V. Frankenstein’s main theme is feminism and because of this the story was turned into two different versions, one with male characters as the leading role, and one where it’s switched to female characters. It’s fascinating reading the two versions. The story pretty much stays the same, but having the two versions is pretty helpful for three reasons: 1. If you want to read it with male characters going on the adventure you can. 2. If you want to read it with female characters you can. 3. If you want to look more into how we perceive these ideas they can be read side by side to evaluate our own perspectives and the perspectives of others.
   At the end of the day, it is a fun adventure story, but there’s more to it if people want to dig deeper.
I think the Frankenstein story continues to grip people because it deals with such fundamental parts of being human. We constantly struggle with the natural instinct to judge harshly anything different or new to us. It’s clearly a protection thing, but society is different to when we were hunter gathers and had to be overly cautious so we didn’t die. Frankenstein is just the perfect story to hold up a mirror to all this and makes us question our perception of what a Monster is.

What makes you obsessed with Frank Herbert’s Dune?
The uniqueness. It’s just so vast, different and original that I can lose myself in the world, characters, philosophy, religion, ideology and perspectives.

Have you seen the David Lynch film and is it a travesty of the original or an interesting interpretation?
I’ve seen it. It has its weaknesses, but I actually think it’s really good. Mainly because I feel it captures the weirdness of the Dune world. The Dune world is very different from our own and I think people didn’t like the film because it was so strange to them, even to fans. Plus, the ending is rubbish and that’s what people usually remember most.
It can be done better though, so I look forward to the day someone other than the sci-fi channel tries again.

Apple or PC?
PC all the way.

Do you use Scrivener or Word? Or another word-processing program? Or even pen and paper?
I mostly use Word, mostly. Although, the first draft of The Heart of Nature was written with pen and paper. I wanted to try something new. It was a lot of work typing it up so to be efficient (lazy) I type with Word.

Do you have any pets? Do they influence your writing?
No pets. One day I’ll have an elephant, honey badger and a horse (my favourite ‘real’ animals)

Would you rather see your stories on the big screen or the little screen?
Tough question. I don’t think I’d mind. I would just be very overwhelmed that it was happening at all and be excited to see someone else’s interpretation of it.

What is your favourite Science Fiction (or Fantasy) film?
So many to choose from!! This is a mean question. My favourite film ever is Fight Club and it might just barely creep into one of these genres. However, that’s debatable so I’ll pick Source Code or The Matrix for Sci-Fi and The Fall or The Prince’s Bride for Fantasy (I know that’s two answers for each, and it said ‘or’ not ‘and’ but I’m a rebel).

Are you a Luddite? Or do you prefer to be on the bleeding edge of technology?
I’m a caveman. I’m rubbish with technology!

Are you--or have you ever been--a gamer?
I game from time to time. Mainly with my brothers for nostalgia- we played computer games a lot when we were teens.

Do you have a garden? Have you ever grown your own food?
I’m too lazy to grow my own food. I find growing your own food cool and know how important it is to be in touch with our roots (pun intended), but in my daily life there’s so much else I’m doing. I hope one day things change as it would be fun to do it.

Would you prefer an independent bookshop, or a big chain?
To actually buy a book, it would have to be independent. Actually, it would be independent for selling too. However, I’m not going to be a hipster and say I wouldn’t jump feet first into getting my books into a big chain. Big chains are likely to bring in more money and that would mean being able to write full time, and if lots of money, help other people and that’s the dream.

Do you have your own office, study or writing space, or can you write in a cafe or the library?
Just my desk in my room, but I can write anywhere (well, not anywhere, I can’t write in the sun).  

Who do you consider are your major influences in writing?
Frank Herbert, if you mean authors who influence my writing.

What writer, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
Frank Herbert (I’m a stuck record!)
Imagine being my friend and having to put up with my Dune obsession - luckily I do have other interests.

If you could have any director to shoot the film of your books, who would you choose?
Ridley Scott.

How would you define Speculative Fiction?
I couldn’t possibly speculate (I find defining genres way too hard). It took two years to find out that The Book of Prophecy fits into the Metaphysical Fantasy genre, although I prefer to call its genre Philosophical Fantasy myself.

Do you consider yourself a slave to the muse?
I think it’s a symbiotic arrangement. At least that’s what I tell myself. They would say I’m their slave.

Thank you for the interview Jessica! Those were some awesome questions!!! 

About Steven J. Guscott:

Steven J. Guscott is twenty-eight and has been writing stories since 2010. His first fantasy novel, The Book of Prophecy was published by Kristell-Ink in 2014 and he has had a selection of shorter pieces published too. His short story The Diary of the Frankenstein’s was featured in the charity anthology, Strange Tales from the Scriptorian Vaults.
   Due to the interest in this story Steven decided to expand the ideas and with the help of Sammy HK Smith the novella, The Diary of V. Frankenstein was created. He is currently working on The Heart of Nature, which is the follow-up to The Book of Prophecy.
  When not writing Steven enjoys reading and listening to audiobooks, spending time with his family and friends, and being way too obsessed with Frank Herbert’s Sci-Fi classic, Dune.

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