Today we have M.K. Hobson, the author of The Native Star and The Hidden Goddess on for an interview. Mrs. Hobson is not only a very talented writer, but she's quite the accomplished seamstress. The dress she's wearing to the left there is made by her! Isn't it beautiful?! She's also giving away a copy of The Hidden Goddess and a hand made fan bag which is long pointy drawstring bag that you can carry a fan in (very handy at cons!). I suspect it will be quite lovely!
Thanks for joining us today for My Favorite Things and the week of all things Steampunk!
Thank you for having me!
When you started writing The Native Star did you already know the direction it would go? Was it all planned out ahead of time, or did it reveal itself more as you wrote?
When I first started writing THE NATIVE STAR I wasn't the obsessive outliner I am now. I just started off with an idea -- pretty much just "magic in 1870s America" -- and felt my way along from there. Unfortunately, this approach gave me nothing but troubles. Without having a plan in advance, I had big problems with continuity and pacing. And fixing those problems meant I had to to tear out and rewrite stuff I'd already done, and I just hated that. I hate wasted effort. I greatly admire efficiency. So, I swore I'd never write another book unless I knew exactly what was going to happen in advance. THE HIDDEN GODDESS was the first book I completely outlined before writing it. I knew all the major plot points, the themes & resonances that I wanted to put in. The actual writing of the prose went very quickly and smoothly on that book. But it's a trade-off, because it takes so much longer to write the outline!
What made you decide to write with Steampunk elements and in this time period?
Of course, when I wrote THE NATIVE STAR (around 2002) the whole "Steampunk" thing wasn't as much in the mainstream consciousness as it is coming to be. I've always loved the 19th century, but like anything else I believe it's better with magic. I think I was most fascinated about the similarities between the late 19th century in America and some of the political and social trends we see today. I do think we're living in a new Victorian age in many ways, and I guess I was trying to call attention to that in some very small way.
Before you wrote The Native Star were you into Steampunk and Victorian style clothing and costume making, or did that come after, or during the process of writing?
I've been interested in Victorian manners, jewelry and costuming since middle school, so that's what, 30 years now? Gee whiz! Anyway, some of the writers I was reading at that time included Dickens, Oscar Wilde, and H.H. Munro. I was enchanted by the feeling and flavor of the era, and of course the dresses were fantastic! When I got to high school I got to indulge my passion for costuming in the theater department, and then later in college when I was (briefly) a drama major. But my costuming efforts have pretty much always been restricted to others. It wasn't until after the book that I really started costuming for myself ... and I'm loving it!
What are some of your most favorite Steampunk authors and/or books?
Gail Carriger, of course, is an absolute hoot, and I hardly need to mention Cherie Priest. Some authors who are a bit less well known (but no less incredible) are Ekaterina Sedia and Genevieve Valentine. Sedia's "The Alchemy of Stone" is utterly brilliant and a must-read for any serious student of Steampunk. Valentine just came out with a gem of a debut called "Mechanique: a Tale of the Circus Tresaulti" which hits some very elegant gothic notes.
What is your favorite aspect of Steampunk?
Of course I love the costuming aspect, but more than that I love being around people who are as fascinated by history and social details as I am. When you're around people who are active in the Steampunk community, you can feel pretty confident that if you talk about the language of flowers or black-bordered calling cards or Isabard Kingdom Brunel was, you won't get a blank stare in return. That's really quite nice.
How did you come up with the names for your characters?
You know, I've been asked that a lot and I always have to say I can't really remember! I know that I wanted Emily to have a pretty standard "Victorian heroine" name, and those usually have both the first and last name start with the same letter. And for Dreadnought ... his name had to be pompous without being precious or prissy ... I mean, readers still had to be able to take him seriously! So coming up with the right name for him was a bit harder. Maybe I should start saying that it came to me in a dream, that makes for a much better answer.
How many books do you have planned for The Native Star series, and do you have any other books planned outside this series?
My goal has always been to write several more duologies that move the family saga on through history, following Emily & Dreadnought's descendents through the changing American landscape. The next pair of books will be set in 1910 and will follow one of their sons. I've got the detailed outline (about written for Book 3, and I know the major emotional points I want to hit in Book 4. Once I have the outline done for that one I can start writing, and I am SO excited. The next two books are going to be darker -- I expect each subsequent set of duologies will get darker as we approach the modern day -- but in a really compelling way, I think. I hope. Fingers crossed.
M.K. Hobson was born in Riverside, California, but grew up in Portland, Oregon. She attended theUniversity of Oregon, where she ran Catalyst Films (the campus film society), helped launch The Student Insurgent (a radical progressive ‘zine that’s still being published) and drove night-shift cab in nearby Springfield, Oregon. After graduating with a degree in English and Communications, she moved to Hiroshima, Japan to teach English. Returning to the United States two years later, she purchased The Northwest Neighbor, a community newspaper founded by legendary Portland mayor Bud Clark. She ran the paper for several years before moving on to a career in the field of corporate communications, working with Fortune 500 clients in the fields of retirement and healthcare.About The Native Star:
Currently, she is one of the co-hosts of Podcastle, the acclaimed short fiction podcast. She lives in Oregon City, Oregon with her husband and daughter.
It’s 1876, and business is rotten for Emily Edwards, town witch of the tiny Sierra Nevada settlement of Lost Pine. With everyone buying patent magicks by mail-order, she’s faced with two equally desperate options. Starve—or use a love spell to bewitch the town’s richest lumberman into marrying her.
When the love spell goes terribly wrong, Emily is forced to accept the aid of Dreadnought Stanton—a pompous and scholarly Warlock from New York—to set things right. Together, they travel from the seedy underbelly of San Francisco’s Barbary Coast, across the United States by train and biomechanical flying machine, to the highest halls of American magical power, only to find that love spells (and love) are far more complicated and dangerous than either of them could ever have imagined.
She is giving away one copy of The Hidden Goddess and the hand made fan bag to one lucky winner.
This is open to US/Canada
Ends July 5th, 2011
You must be 16 or older to enter
Leave a comment about the interview, talk about steampunk, say something intelligent... Just leave a thoughtful comment please ;)
For this one you can get a bonus entry by posting a picture of yourself in a Steampunk or Victorian costume, OR a picture of yourself with either of the books. Email me the photo (leave a comment here letting me know) or post a link to the photo (twitter, facebook, etc) candace_redinger(at)yahoo(dot)com