I'm very excited that we get to return to Cherie Priest's steampunked Seattle in The Inexplicables, published in the UK this month ... The setting will be familiar to the army of fans who loved Boneshaker, but this standalone novel features a new lead protagonist, a new monster threat and yet another barnstorming adventure-filled plot. You can view a free extract here, and the quotes below are followed by an interview with the author herself. Some great insights into alternate history research, her greatest steampunk posession and more!
PRAISE FOR THE INEXPLICABLES:
'Priest’s nineteenth-century world, its inhabitants, and their adventures have grown ever more rich ... The Inexplicables adds yet another great chapter to their tale' Wired
'Priest’s alternate 1880 is as intriguing and enjoyable as ever' Publishers Weekly
'The Inexplicables is full of adventure and a must read for any fan of the steampunk genre . . . Any reader will quickly become a fan of the series and Priest’s magnetic prose' LiteraryEscapism.com
And now, over to Cherie Priest for some incisive (well, kinda!) questioning:
1. Rector “Wreck ’em” Sherman isn’t a typical charismatic protagonist – being a disaffected teen, peddling the narcotic ‘sap’ for lack of a more tempting career path. What drew you to tell his story?
For one thing, I wanted a new vehicle character with wholly different motives and interests from Briar -- my original Seattle interloper. The intent was to return to the walled-off city, but since the book was several tomes down in the series, I didn't want to bore longtime readers with too much backfill and familiarity.
Rector seemed like a logical choice. He'd socialize with a different crowd, and have different priorities. He could show the reader a new side of Seattle, while still bringing everything home - and full circle, in a fashion. Boneshaker was a parent chasing a child. The Inexplicables is a child chasing adulthood. It felt like a nice bit of symmetry.
2. What’s your favourite part of researching your alternate history novels?
Easily my favorite bit of the research is all the wacky local history I uncover. Real life is always vastly weirder than anything I could make up -- so it's always fun to incorporate out-of-this-world historical fact into my pseudo-historical fiction. Every now and again I get mail from people complaining that a certain plot point or character is simply too outlandish ... and these emails are ALWAYS talking about a real person or event.
3. Have any comments by reviewers or fans on the Clockwork Century ever surprised you, and if so how?
I'm constantly surprised by readers who pick apart the (almost always deliberate) anachronistic details and toss their hands into the air -- declaring that they can no longer suspend their disbelief. It's like these people read RIGHT PAST THE ZOMBIES and that was totally cool, man.
I really want to sit them down and say, "Look, if you're really such a huge stickler for historic accuracy, these probably aren't the books for you. And that's okay."
4. What was the inspiration behind the Inexplicables, the monsters that name this novel?
The Inexplicables were inspired by legends of the Sasquatch (Bigfoot) in the Pacific Northwest, that's all. I wanted a strange antagonist who was very specifically regional, and besides, this way I get to tell people the book features a zombie Bigfoot. That's a pretty reliable eyebrow-lifter.
This is the "steampumpkin" -- a jack-o-lantern I found on sale someplace probably a dozen years ago, after Halloween. I think he cost about five bucks. I've never seen another one since, and have no idea where you'd go about acquiring such a thing, so don't ask. Believe me, if I knew ... I'd have a whole collection of them.
Anyway, he's made of hard molded foam (I think), and painted to look like metal. Inside, his little candle flickers spookily when he's plugged in. Really, he's just a perfect mashup of my two favorite things - Halloween and steampunk. Even though I bought him long before I heard the term "steampunk" or had any affiliation therewith.