October 1, 2012

Author Interview: Delilah S. Dawson


I'm not sure who it was on Twitter that first said the name Delilah S. Dawson in a way that made me take notice. But I remember what that person said: She's funny. Follow her if you like to laugh.

So I did, because I like to follow writers who make me laugh. 

Since then, I've found her tweets entertaining and engaging, but I never branched out and actually read her book because...Steampunk? What the hell is Steampunk?

The Mysterious Madam Morpho
Delilah S. Dawson
October 12, 2012
131 pages
Pocket Books


Then I heard she has a new novella coming out, The Mysterious Madam Morpho.  It releases tomorrow, October 2, via Pocket Books (a division of Simon & Schuster). I figured a novella was a great place to start (it being a shorter commitment).  So I reached out to Delilah, got a link to the review copy, and a promise of an interview...

Three hours later, I'd already finished the novella.

And I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Steampunk is (at least from what I glean from Delilah's world): a mash-up of fantasy, period-fiction, a little bit of sci-fi, a lot of romance, and some of the best clothes you can imagine. Corsets! Long skirts! Boots! Capes and coats! It's gorgeous. It's visual. It's rich.

It's...dare I say it on the blog my father reads?

I dare.

It's sexy.

Add to that a group of characters caught up in a pseudo-Victorian-world of misogyny, advanced metallurgy...and  a who lot of blood-thirsty creatures?

Yeah. I dug it.

The Mysterious Madam Morpho was a lot of fun, and I, for one, am now a Steampunk Fan. New genre, here I come!

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I also had the chance for a brief chat with Delilah about the book, her writing life, and anything else that came up.  I dare you to read this, and not want to be friends with her.

LR: First question: Steampunk. Your novella, The Mysterious Madam Morpho marks my first foray into the world of steampunk, and I have to say: consider me a new fan of the genre.  It’s such a fun combination of the real, the fantastical, and the awesome clothes.  But that’s just what I like.  What first drew you to the genre?

DD: I guess what drew me to steampunk is a combination of beauty, rebellion, and imagination. In steampunk, anything is possible, from fantastic inventions to high adventure and strange twists on history. I especially love the fashion, dressing up in corsets, hats, and lots of accessories. But once I was in, I found the warm and welcoming community of fellow steampunks to be an amazing bonus.

LR: Madam Morpho is a young woman who enters the carnival world of Criminy Stain, who was a main focus of your first book, Wicked As They Come.  What made you decide to focus on Imogen Morpho for your first series novella?

DD: Pocket requested an e-novella set in Sang but following a new romantic couple. I wanted to start on familiar ground for people who had already read Wicked as They Come, so I brought a new act to Criminy’s Clockwork Caravan. While researching old-fashioned circus acts, I was charmed by the concept of a flea circus and wanted to make it more lovable and splashy—hence the butterflies. Magic and intrigue had to follow!

LR: I’m a huge fan of all the classic horror movie beasts: vampires, zombies, werewolves, you name it.  In your world, Sang, vampires exist, but they’re a morphed version.  They live almost hand-in-hand with "Pinkies" (normal people), although the animal versions (bludbunnies and bludbadgers being my clear favorites) are perhaps a little more vicious.  It’s a great twist on a classic genre – did you set out to write a classic vampire tale, or did you always envision this other version of them?

DD: Wicked as They Come sprung from a dream—to be exact, the scene where a naked Tish wakes up in Sang and meets Criminy. I knew right off the bat that Criminy was a blood drinker, but I wanted him to be a regular guy, not some magical monster. And that’s where Bludmen came from—trying to figure out how a Victorian-type society would function when many of the people lived on blood. He has some superior attributes, but he himself laughs at the idea that he might be dead.

LR: I loved the little twists comparing Sang to our world…book mentions like Olivia Twist made me giggle.   There are actually lots of humorous bits throughout the novella, and your tweets and blog posts regularly make me laugh.  But my question is: you’re clearly pretty funny, but who’s the funniest person that you know?

DD: Aw, thank you! And whoa, that’s a tough question! If Twitter were a person, I would go with that. I have a crew of high school friends I only get to see about once a year, and we laugh so hard my ribs hurt. My husband knows my sense of humor and can really get me cracking up. And my three-year-old son says hilarious things. He wants to grow up and be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

LR: What has been your favorite part of being a published author thus far?  And…the least favorite?

DD: My favorite part is connecting with people. I’ve made some amazing friends in the publishing world, from authors to readers to people I meet at cons to people on Twitter. And I have a long list of books on my TBR pile, thanks to knowing people with great taste. I also really loved digging into the cake at my launch party last March.

The least favorite part is the criticism, of course. No manuscript is perfect, and it’s really hard to suck it up and accept advice and rework a book you thought was awesome. But my agent, editor, and beta readers have improved my writing significantly, and I’m grateful for that—even if they occasionally make me cry into my cupcakes.

LR: As a writer, are you an outliner, or a seat-of-your-pantser? 

DD: A combination. :) I mull over the book for a long time before I actually start writing and do most of my outlining in my head, developing the story and characters and defining the major plot points. I *always* know how it’s going to end. Once I know exactly where and how to start, I begin writing, and it’s mostly seat-of-my-pants between the mile markers. Books 2 and 3 in the Blud series required outlines first, so I had a much better idea where I was going, along with early editorial input.

LR: All time favorite book?

DD: Watership Down, probably. I snuck it (SNUCK IS A WORD, I SWEAR) out of the library in 2nd grade and never looked back. I’ve also read Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander at least six times. Unfortunately, I don’t have as much time as I once did to reread old favorites. Anything by Tom Robbins or Douglas Adams ranks high, too.

LR: All time favorite movie?

DD: I could not even begin to name one! There are some movies that I rewatch over and over again, constantly, like Mallrats or Forgetting Sarah Marshall or Empire Records or Pride & Prejudice or Clueless or Penelope or Real Genius. And then there are movies that are stylish and beautiful and really strike me, like The Piano or Brotherhood of the Wolf or Sleepy Hollow or Moulin Rouge. And then there are horrible things like Queen of the Damned and Starship Troopers that I can’t admit publicly. And I seriously love all the recent superhero movies. I’m biiig into movies, but not the critically acclaimed sort.

LR: All time favorite song?

DD: Lovecats, Like Cockatoos, Just Like Heaven, Six Different Ways, Plainsong—whichever one it is, it’s by The Cure.

LR: And…because you’re also an artist…all time favorite painter/sculptor/other medium-ist?

DD: I’m into Alphonse Mucha right now. I once saw a painting of a goat in Picasso’s studio in Antibes that changed my life. And I touched my favorite Monet once, just so I could share some atoms with him. We’re metaphysically one, now.

LR: And finally…is there any particular question you haven’t been asked in an interview that you really wish someone would just ask you already?   If so, feel free to answer it here.

DD: Well, I’m mostly an open book, so anyone who wants to know *anything* can always @ me on Twitter. I’m @DelilahSDawson over there, and you can also get book news on my author Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/DelilahSDawson. Ask away!

Thanks so much for having me!

****

No, Delilah. Thank you for stopping by! And best wishes with your release!!



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