Japanese steampunk? Hell yes.
STORMDANCER is close to my heart for a variety of reasons - it's set in a world "heavily inspired by Japan", it features oni, and it's written by a true blue Aussie. What's not to love?
You're going to throw things at me for this, but I managed to get my grubby little hands on a copy of this baby (much to Jay's disbelief and paranoia). After zooming through it with many an evil, gleeful cackle, I knew I needed more, so here's an interview with Jay - ahem, Mr Kristoff - to keep me going until the next book... and you going until the first :p
1. Why did you choose to set your story in Japan?
I wanted to write a steampunk story, but I felt like Victorian London and America had been done, and done very well. I wanted to do something people hadn’t seen before, something readers wouldn’t expect and could hopefully get excited about. There were a lot of other amazing cultures in the world at the time of the Victorian era, and I’ve been in love with Japan forever, so it just seemed a natural fit. Steampunk samurai – I mean, what’s not to like?
2. Tell us in ten dot points or less a little about your writing journey (eg how you got started, how you snagged an agent, how your agent snagged a publisher, any particularly painful rejections).
· I wrote a vampire novel for fun. I just had a scene in my head and started writing. I knew nothing about publishing or how to be a writer, I just wanted something to show for my time other than phat purple lewts on my Night Elf Rogue. Eighteen months later, I had a book.
· I did a bunch of research on publishing, because I kinda liked the way the book turned out, and loved the writing process. I soon realized writing a vampire book at the height of Twilight hysteria probably wasn’t such an awesome move.
· I queried the book. A few agents said really nice things about my writing, but nobody wanted to rep it. Sadfase.
· I wrote another book, which started as a dream in my head. Took me about six months, during which time I hung out on Absolute Write and read Miss Snark and Author!Author! and learned everything I could about publishing. The book made my wife cry, so I thought it might be good. I named it STORMDANCER.
· I started querying. Agents seemed to really like it, and I was lucky enough to receive four offers of representation. Happyfase.
· We subbed the book. Again, publishers seemed to really like it. We had three houses interested in buying it, which lead to an auction. The process is described in a little more detail here if you’re interested. Biiiiig happyfase.
· And here we are. :D
3. Do you have any quirks or necessities when it comes to writing? A special place, a certain type of food, a ninja doll watching over you?
I need silence. Like, I’m talking ‘vacuum of space’ type silence here. I don’t care if alien sexbots have abducted the president and I am next, just STFU. If I’m planning a long session, Red Bull is almost mandatory. I’d drink that stuff every day if I didn’t know it’d implode my brain. I have no ninja dolls watching me, but my dog usually keeps me company. Unless he’s being noisy and then it’s GTFO.
4. What scares you most about being a real published author?
That people will realize I suck.
5. What television shows/movies/books/other inspired you while writing STORMDANCER?
Oh wow, so many. Pretty much every manga I’ve ever read has a role in there – stuff like Akira, Battle Angel Alita, Ninja Scroll. Movies like Seven Samurai, 13 Assassins, video games like Tenchu, steampunk books like Infernal Devices, the Difference Engine, the Leviathan series. But the biggest influence on me was music – even though I don’t listen to it when I’m writing, music is a huge part of my life. There’s a Rage Against the Machine album called The Battle of Los Angeles that I had on almost constant rotation during those six months. I’m not sure this book would exist without it.
And there you have it: A terrifying glimpse into the mind of a mad genuis who thought to combine the world of steampunk with the world of mythological Japan. If you'd like to learn more about STORMDANCER and Jay Kristoff, you can visit his website, and if you want to stalk him, he tweets as @misterkristoff.