Saturday, June 18, 2016
Interview with Kate Coe, author of Green Sky and Sparks
Today the Speculative Fiction Showcase have great pleasure in interviewing Kate Coe, author of Green Sky and Sparks and Grey Stone and Steel. The third book in the series, High Flight and Flames, is due out this summer (watch this space!)
What’s the difference between steampunk and steampunk fantasy?
Magic! Steampunk is Victorian tech, gadgets and goggles, gears and gizmos. I have the brilliant fun of writing in a world that also has magic, and it’s so interesting to explore the conflict (or not) between the two disciplines. I’m mostly using Renaissance-era technology, but I’ve also got steampower and clockwork - it’s great fun to just play with things without worrying too much about genre.
As a Librarian, why are libraries such magical places?
When you become a Librarian, you get inducted into the magical world of L-Space...but in all seriousness, how can you resist somewhere with that many voices and worlds and that amount of knowledge just at your fingertips? Books contain so many thoughts and facts and worlds with just 26 letters, and a library is somewhere you can access all of that for free, in an environment that encourages you to sit and read and learn. They’re so important and so magical (even without the L-Space aspect!)
If you could travel in time, what era would you visit?
I studied classics at Uni and my dissertation was on the Roman Republic, so it’s got to be then. It’s a period of absolute flux, the end of the Republic and beginning of Empire, with so many great characters who were giants and yet only human...plus it would be fascinating to just see the everyday life of the time.
Tell us more about the sloth with the speed addiction...
Duster is my absolute favourite! He wanted to be a pilot, but he fell asleep during the exam. So now he wears a flying cap and goggles, and gets his speed thrills racing down the Library banisters. I absolutely adore the Madcap Library characters, and I really need to get back to writing the stories again!
Apple or PC?
PC. I just can’t get Macs...plus I know enough shortcuts and tricks for PC that I can break almost anything.
Do you use Scrivener or Word? Or another word-processing program? Or pen and paper?
Word; I do jot notes in a hardcopy notebook or on my phone, but I do my long writing in Word or on Google Docs if I need to access it in multiple places.
Do you have any pets? Do they influence your writing?
We have two; a bearded dragon called Pep and a cat called Frankie. The lizard tends to do “sit” and “stay” very successfully, and is very good at just ~watching~ which can be a little disconcerting. Frankie’s more of the “take over your lap and demand cuddles” so he’s not a particularly good influence on my writing!
Would you rather see your stories on the big screen or the little screen?
I think little would suit my stories better; I write novellas, so the plot arcs are smaller, and I follow the interwoven threads of many different characters. Although to be honest, either would be fabulous!
Have you seen Game of Thrones and if so, what do you think?
I read the first book, got fed up with people being killed off just as I remembered who they were, and decided I had better things to do with my time! It looks like an interesting world but not one for me.
What is your favourite Science Fiction (or Fantasy) film?
It’s got to be a Studio Ghibli; I’m probably going for Spirited Away, just because of the combination of sheer weirdness and fantastic elements, and the stunning scenery. I love that it’s not a trite lesson, and that it does have so many amazing aspects that means it can be watched and re-watched.
Are you a Luddite? Or do you prefer to be on the bleeding edge of technology?
I’m not on the bleeding edge, but I do upgrade often enough that I keep fairly up to date. I like having a smartphone but I don’t adopt things unless I think I have a use for them, and my laptop’s a two-year-old Lenovo that’s built to survive the apocalypse - and needs to!
Are you--or have you ever been--a gamer?
I am a computer gamer and an RPG’er! My favourite computer game is Portal; I love the combination of puzzles and sarcasm. I play Pathfinder and Fate RPGs, and I currently GM a Dresden Files RPG with some friends, which contains a suitable amount of idiocy, pratfalls, explosions and general chaos to make it a lot of fun.
Would you prefer an independent bookshop, or a big chain?
I have to admit that I do most of my book shopping online! The last physical bookshop I was in was a Waterstones. I tend to try to support indie presses so I’m probably an independent bookshop person when online, but a chain one in real life, if only because there are so few independents nearby.
Do you have your own office, study or writing space, or can you write in a cafe or the library?
I have a window seat (when the cat vacates it), an old desk and a spot on the sofa (again, when available). I can write anywhere, but only certain things; I can’t write my novellas as they require more concentration, so if I’m writing outside my house then it tends to be short stories.
Who do you consider are your major influences in writing?
My absolute favourite authors are Diane Wynne Jones and Neil Gaiman; I love both of their abilities to take mythology and odd facts, and weave them into compelling and amazing stories. I’d love to be able to write like China Mieville; he’s one of the best writers in my style (aka. random) that I’ve ever read.
What writer, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
I think Joanne Harris would be really interesting to just have a chat with over tea; she’s so down-to-earth and interesting on Twitter that I hope it wouldn’t be awkward! I can see myself just panicking if I met anyone else and not knowing what to talk about.
If you could have any director to shoot the film of your books, who would you choose?
I’m going to have to n/a to this...I don’t really watch films at all, so I’ve got no real preference for live action direction. If Green Sky could get turned into a Ghibli film then that’d be a win for me!
How would you define Speculative Fiction?
Anything with a weird element or a question; anything that makes you think about the world outside this one, that adds another dimension or another force, that makes you question reality and the life inside this universe. The usual suspects are obviously magic, technology, aliens...but you don’t necessarily need anything big to be able to write an extremely good Spec Fic book.
I'm a writer of fiction and fantasy, and I blog at writingandcoe.co.uk. In real life I’m a librarian with a background in classics and law, I live with an engineer and very grumpy bearded dragon, and I fill my spare time in between writing with web design, gaming, geeky cross-stitch and DIY (which may or may not involve destroying things). I also read far fewer books that I'd like to, but possibly more than I really have time for.