Frankenstein and Steampunk

Frankenstein and Steampunk

In this blog post I interview author BG Hilton, whose debut novel is the Steampunk adventure Champagne Charlie and the Amazing Gladys. This exciting steampunk adventure has just been released by Odyssey Books. With an abiding interest in Frankenstein, you can guarantee Hilton’s answers to my questions will intrigue.

Which writer or writers opened your eyes to the magic of storytelling and why?

That’s a difficult one. It’s tempting to say Dr Seuss or Enid Blighton, who are the first authors whose names I was aware of. I suppose if I learned anything from those two it’s that a story can be as simple or as outrageous as you like, as long as it follows an internal logic. In school, I was into Elizabeth Scarborough, Victor Kelleher, Harry Harrison who I love in different ways, before I became a stereotypically cynical teenager and got into Robert Bloch in a big way.

My first ‘serious’ literary novel was Dickens’ Pickwick Papers and I loved how rambling it was. The plot is all over the place and at times Dickens just forgets it completely and has characters tell a fairytale or read a story in someone’s diary. It was a bit of a revelation having read so many stories that just march from beginning to conclusion to realize that there’s nothing wrong with a side trip – and there we are, back at Dr Seuss!

Why do you think people need stories in their lives?

That’s a big question. People use stories as a way to make sense of the world around them. A novel, a banking ledger and a geology textbook are really all just different sorts of stories, in their ways. Stories are the way we impose order on the world. But they’re also the way we seek order, seek understanding. I think that’s especially important in a time like now, when nothing seems permanent or certain. There are always stories there, to help us when nothing else will.

What is your greatest magical power as a writer?

I think I’m good at making people laugh. Not everything I write is meant to be funny, but a lot of it is and there’s no critique I enjoy so much as someone saying ‘I loled. No seriously, I mean it.’ And it’s a tricky thing to do, writing comedy. When you’re telling a joke in person, you can see how your audience is reacting and you can change course or just bail on a joke if it isn’t getting a laugh. When you’re writing, your audience might be reading your joke years later on another continent. So I don’t get it right the first time, what can you do?

Which mythic archetype or magical character most resonates with you and why?

Does Frankenstein count? I’m going to assume so. I’ve always been fascinated with Frankenstein – the doctor as much as the monster. I suppose all writers are a little bit like Frankenstein, creating our characters out of a bit of this and a bit of that and sending them heedless out into the world. But there’s more to it than that. Frankenstein is such a deep metaphor, with so many possible meanings.

What themes or ideas do you find keep arising in your writing?

I find I keep coming back to flawed heroes. I don’t mean stories with hardcore antiheroes or anything like that, but I like my characters to be people who try their best even when they’re not great people. One of my favourite of my characters is a semi-reformed supervillain whose attempts to help people, try as he might, keep bringing him back to building death rays. That’s the sort of thing I mean, characters who just do the best they can with what they have. Can’t get enough stories like that, so I end up writing them.

Tell us about Champagne Charlie….

Hungover aristocrat Edward “Charlie” Decharles awakens in the back of a steam-cab, only to discover that the driver has been murdered. Unused to feeling responsible for anything, he feels compelled to find the killer. As he investigates, he meets “The Amazing” Gladys Dunchurch, a stage magician’s assistant whose employer has disappeared – and not in a good way. They form an alliance – Charlie will help Gladys with his considerable resources and Gladys will help Charlie with her even more considerable brains.

To read more about this Steampunk adventure yarn, you can find Champagne Charlie and the Amazing Gladys on Amazon or at Odyssey Books.

Comments are closed.