Friday, October 16, 2015

Interview: A Vanishing Glow by Alexis Radcliff

UFI welcomes Author Alexis Radcliff. Thanks for Joining us!!

What can you tell my readers about yourself that they might not know from looking on your bio or reading in another interview? 

So I say I'm nerdy on all my bios, but it's probably not clear just how deeply my nerdy side runs. I've written and DM'd entire Pathfinder campaigns, participated in 40-man raiding in the early days of World of Warcraft, and if there's a fantasy RPG or book series made in the last three decades, odds are better than 75% I can speak to the major plot points.

All of that has actually come in really handy while writing my own fantasy novels.

What do you enjoy doing on your down time? 

What's down time? I'm kidding, of course, but also kind of not. Being an indie author means being your own startup. I'm either working or thinking about work 12-14 hours a day most days. When I do have down time, I'm usually either reading, playing a game, or just cuddling with my fiance on the couch to watch some Netflix. You've got to make time for the cuddling.

What is your Favorite part of writing? 

Writing is so liberating and empowering. You're inventing all of these people and scenarios, and at least in the case of speculative fiction, you're creating new worlds from the whole cloth of your imagination. I can't think of anything that's quite as satisfying as making something like that.

And then there's also the day that you get to hold the finished product in your hands. That's a pretty great day, too.

Do you have any certain routines you must follow as you write? 

I'm a huge fan of the pomodoro technique. It's 25 minutes of writing as much as you can, then a 5 minute break, then you do it again. After four cycles you take a longer break. I find that it keeps me tremendously focused while still allowing me windows to check my email and talk to fans on Facebook and Twitter. Other than that, I find that writing in complete silence is really helpful. I try to minimize distractions as much as possible.

What are some of your Favorite books or Authors in the Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Genres? 

The Dresden Files is an obvious choice for me -- I think Jim Butcher has a direct, punchy style that's just great. I try to use some of that in my own books (for certain characters). Lately I've also been enjoying Annie Bellet's Twenty-Sided Sorceress series. If you're any kind of a gamer, they're a lot of fun.

How would you pitch A Vanishing Glow to someone who has not heard of it before? 

My go-to Twitter pitch is that readers should expect the intrigue, politics, and plot reversals of A Game of Thrones, with the fun and action of something like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. I also think this series gives more representation to a diverse cast of characters and perspectives than some its peers. Plus there are steampunk cyborgs. What's not to love?

Can you tell us a little bit about the world that A Vanishing Glow is set in? 

The book is set in a low fantasy world where magic has recently been harnessed as an energy source and the resulting technology boom has created something like the industrial revolution here on Earth (only it happens much faster). There's a lot of class struggle happening and also tension around the aforementioned steampunk cyborgs, which are called "constructs" in the book, creating further issues with finding work for the commoners.

There are also some interesting customs around sexuality that I play with in this series. Notably, the culture has deep taboos against sexual encounters outside of wedlock because of the lack of birth control and the risk of children, but activities that don't result in procreation aren't really viewed as "sex" (any more than masturbation would be). This leads to a lot of culturally-approved youthful experimentation with same sex partners, though the expectation is that they'll "grow out of it" and get married (or "joined") by the time they're in their early 20s. The framework creates some interesting character dynamics that have been really fun to explore within the context of the plot.

Do you have a favorite scene in A Vanishing Glow

I'm  really partial to the climax at the end of the book, just because it's so epic and crazy and fun, but I also love some of the early scenes with one of my protagonists, Nilya, and her roommate, Verse. They have this silly, playful banter that was just a blast to write, and I like those scenes because they feel very real to me. Just two friends, hanging out, joking around. I think those interactions are the underpinnings of what makes some of the later stuff punch you so hard emotionally when it all plays out.

Which one character out of all your books was your favorite to write about? What about the hardest to write about? 

Surprisingly, the character that I had the most fun with was a minor character who only gets a few POV chapters: The seasoned reported, Hugh Ketter. He's sarcastic, scrappy, and jaded, which makes him fun to write, but he's also a good person deep down, so you have to like him. He also has some really amusing tics that I get to play off of.

The hardest was actually the main protagonist, Jason Tern. I had to completely rewrite his internal character at one point because he just wasn't coming off as very likable -- he was a little too emo and moody-broody at first. I fixed him now (I hope), but he was a struggle all the way through for me.

What other projects can we look forward to reading from you? 

So of course I'm already planning and working on the next volume in this series, the Mystech Arcanum Volume III. The working title is "A Reaping of Souls," and I have some really cool and intense stuff planned for it that I can't wait to share with everyone.

The other project I'm really excited about I can't talk about too much yet, but I'll tell you that it's a new take on the superhero genre and that the first book will be out sometime in 2016. I'm so excited for this series, because I think it will give voices to characters and stories that we don't often get to hear about from the established comic book literature. If that sounds interesting to you, you should head over to my site and sign up for the newsletter, because subscribers get the first crack at news and samples from  all my series!

Alexis Radcliff is an author, gamer, unashamed geek, and history junkie who spent the better part of a decade working in tech before dedicating herself to her first love, literature.

Alexis lives and works in the Portland area with her adorable (if surly) cat and her equally adorable fiancé. When not writing, she spends her time reading, running, playing way too many videogames, and thinking too much about everything.

Find Alexis and her books

A Vanishing Glow
The Mystech Arcanum Vol. 1+2
A VANISHING GLOW is the exciting opening to THE MYSTECH ARCANUM series, a deep and thrilling blend of steampunk and flintlock fantasy with mature themes.

It is an Age of Revolution, an Age of Industrialism. Constructs, living men who are as much brass and steel as they are flesh, man the factories and wage the wars of a ruling elite who gorge themselves on the fruits of the common man’s labor. Mystech, a brilliant fusion of magic and machine, gives rise to a new class of privileged inventors and merchants even as the country festers with wounds from decades of internal strife.

Only one man holds the promise of a brighter future: Nole Ryon, the crown prince. When his childhood friend Jason Tern answers his call for aid, the two of them set out to fight for the change their country needs in order to survive, even as shadowy foes frustrate their efforts. But soon, Jason and Nole’s idealistic mission of hope becomes a furious manhunt for a political murderer as the nation balances on the precipice of a country-wide civil war. Can they cut through the threads of intrigue to discover their true enemy before everything is lost?

Sweeping from the ancient cities at the heart of the nation to the dusty edges of the war-torn frontier, A Vanishing Glow tells a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and assassins, friends and lovers, who come together in a time of epic struggle. Here a brave officer risks everything to win back his estranged father’s respect; a brilliant young engineer attempts to atone for her sins; a war-weary commander tries to pick up the pieces of the life he lost; and a man touched by the gods struggles to prepare a nation for the coming of an ancient evil which only he can see. In the dying light of a once-prosperous society, amid twisting plots, suffering and betrayal, lost love and shattered dreams, all must fight for what they hold dear. Who will taste the fruits of victory and who will lie bloodied on the ground in the light of a vanishing glow?