Monday, August 4, 2014

Author Interview - Rod Duncan

This time I interviewed 'Rod Duncan' on part of his blog tour celebrating the release of 'The Bullet Catcher's Daughter'. Thanks to 'Angry Robots' and the author for making time for this questions.

So, here it is -
1) Welcome to the blog and thanks for making time for talking to me. So, why don't you start by telling us what makes your new novel 'The Bullet Catcher's Daughter' unique?

The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter is about Elizabeth Barnabus who lives in what appears to be Victorian England.
Armed with an unusual set of skills (learned during her childhood in a travelling conjuring show) she ekes out a living as a private investigator.
But as the story progresses it becomes clear that the Nineteenth Century has long passed. Something has caused history to stall. How this has come about is a mystery that Elizabeth will gradually unravel.
People have been kind enough to say that these things make the book distinctive. It is certainly very different from anything I have written before.

2) So what genre/genres would you say this book belongs to?

It is an alternate history – which makes it speculative fiction. The Victorian aesthetic and anachronous technology have made some people call it steampunk. I’m certainly happy with that description.  

3) Tell us a bit about your protagonist 'Elizabeth Barnabus'?

Her father was a traveling conjurer. From him she learned that people can be easily fooled. Her great illusion combined male impersonation with the quick change. As she grew into adolescence, the corset and the binding cloth became tools, enabling her to choose which gender to project.
As an adult, she misses the freedom of the wandering life. So she uses her childhood skills to evade the rules that society would impose on her. 

4) What will make the readers root for her?

Life has dealt Elizabeth a really bad hand of cards. Her idyllic childhood was cut short by an aristocrat who wanted to possess her. Her family were bankrupted by corrupt officials. And she has had to flee into exile. Despite all this, she makes the best of things.  Perhaps that is the reason that readers warm to her.

5) Can you tell us a bit your influences behind writing this novel?

As influences, I would list stories that play with ideas of history. Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy and Robert Harris’s Fatherland, for example. Also, authors who have managed to create imagined societies. Although I was brought up on Tolkien, it was the stories of Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake that influenced me more. I love the way he describes a whole society from top to bottom – ruler, doctor, cook, teacher, servant, labourer and wet nurse.

But the specific inspiration for The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter was the Victorian buildings and streets of Leicester. This is the city where I live and where much of the story takes place. Where the road surface is damaged, you can sometimes glimpse old cobblestones below. It is easy to imagine the sound of wheel rims clattering over them. Another reality seems to exist just under the surface. 

6) So is this the start of a series or a stand-alone? What more can we expect from you in 2014?

This is the beginning of a series. I’m not going to say how many books it will run to. That would be a hostage to fortune. But the series title “The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire” gives an indication of the scale of the story.

The second in the series is called Unseemly Science. It will be published early next year.

7) Tell us a bit about some good books you read this year so far.

The last three books I read were:

Railsea by China Mieville. Quite steampunky, entirely original, very enjoyable.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. A masterclass in letting readers know more than the narrator. Very funny.

Polar Star. My regular re-reading of this crime classic by Martin Cruz Smith. Beautifully developed characters in a unique and evocative setting.

8) Can you divulge some info regarding you upcoming projects?

That is a hard one to answer because I don’t want to spoil the surprises ahead. But I can tell you that I have been writing about ice and death recently. They are ever present motifs in Unseemly Science. I can also say that as the series progresses, the title “The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire” will begin to loom large over the life of Elizabeth Barnabus.

About 'The Bullet Catcher's Daughter' -

Elizabeth Barnabus lives a double life—as herself and as her brother, the private detective. She is trying to solve the mystery of a disappearing aristocrat and a hoard of arcane machines. In her way stand the rogues, freaks and self-proclaimed alchemists of a travelling circus. But when she comes up against an agent of the all-powerful Patent Office, her life and the course of history will begin to change. And not necessarily for the better…

Expected to be published on 26th August on US & ebook format and on 4th September 2014 on UK.


About Rod Duncan - 
Rod Duncan worked in scientific research and computing before settling in Leicester to be a writer. His first novel, Backlash, was short-listed for the John Creasey Memorial Award (now the CWA Debut Dagger).

After four crime novels he switched to fantasy, and is currently writing a series of alternate history books, called ‘The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire’.

Rod is also a screenwriter, and was once eaten alive in the feature film Zombie Undead.

Links - WebsiteTwitter

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