Andrew Leon Hudson is the author of the third story in The Darkside Codex series, The Glass Sealing.
Please give him a warm welcome.
1. Can you tell us a bit about The Glass Sealing?
The Glass Sealing is a revolutionary novel but only in the sense that it’s about a revolution, not that it’s going to change the world! It’s about one of the dominant conflicts of modern western society, between those who have everything they could want and likely always will, and those who can’t even be sure they will still have a job in the morning. I was inspired by the protests of the Occupy Wall Street movement, but I wanted to transplant them to the time of the Industrial Revolution and adding steampunk to the mix made for a bit more fun.
2. When did you decide you wanted to pursue writing as more than a hobby?
I’ve been trying my hand at writing since I was five or six years old (I started out by plagiarizing comic strips) but I was always more a reader than a writer. After university I worked in the film industry for a while, got interested in screenwriting, and decided to try that as a career. Foolish. But I maintained the dream long enough to study a masters degree in the subject, and what I learned then has formed the foundation of my skill set as a writer of fiction generally.
3. If you could attribute your writing success to one turning point in your life, what would it be and why?
I’m too modest to consider myself a success. When I don’t have to worry about paying the bills because my writing has that covered, then I’ll change my tune. However, maybe the thing that has been most beneficial to my writing was the day my tutor criticized me as being “good at structure and description, bad at character and dialogue”. It challenged me to get out of my comfort zone and develop my weaknesses, and now I have no weaknesses, which is very convenient. That modesty is a major burden though.
4. The Darkside Codex books are written in a shared world. Do you think this made writing The Glass Sealing more difficult or less difficult?
I think it’s more difficult, because while you’re still free to tell your own story you’re also compelled to toe somebody else’s line on some of the details. It’s not always obvious when you’re breaking a rule, and nasty surprises can be lying in wait for you when you think you’re home free at the end. It does mean the wider world is already created for you, but worldbuilding is half the fun, so if you ask me shared worlds have nothing going for them!
Apart from meeting interesting writers and contributing to the growth of something beautiful, of course…
5. Can you give us a brief rundown of your writing process?
Writers tend to label themselves as Planners or SeatofthePantsers, depending on their level of OCD or whatever helps them enjoy the process more. I’m a structuralist, in that when I have an idea the first thing I do is start plotting it out, so I’ll have the main characters and the story’s skeleton in place before I “really” start to write but I’m not exactly a Planner, I like a bit of the unexpected too. Call me a seatoftheplanner, then.
My most pleasing writing experience was with The Glass Sealing, as it happens. I planned the entire story in rough, then wrote a detailed, scene by scene breakdown of the first 50% or so. However, from that point on it became progressively less detailed, and the last chapter was barely a thumbnail saying “this, that and the other happen”. The result was I had a nice tight route to follow, up to a point, but it also allowed me more room to manoeuvre the further on I went, so if little ideas cropped up as I wrote I was able to adapt the original idea to include them. This is more or less my standard strategy for longer projects now.
6. What’s the hardest part of the writing process for you and how do you make it easier for yourself?
In the past, it’s been finishing things (or, rather, forcing myself not to start new ones before I finish the old, putting them on a neverending backburner). I work best when I impose some kind of routine on myself, which is pretty much against my nature, so I guess that’s my stumbling block. Nothing makes it easier to fight your genetic predisposition to kill. Time.
7. Steampunk is a relatively new genre to a lot of people. Can you recommend some good places for people interested in the genre to get started?
Poking your nose into the Steampunk Gazette is a great way to sample the breadth of the genre – it’s not just the archaic literary adventure style of the fiction, but the construction of fantastic devices and costumes (by skilled experts and enthusiastic amateurs alike) is lots of fun. Put a couple of people in steampunk garb together for five minutes, the next thing you know you’ve got strange varieties of Hip Hop and Rock and Roll on your hands, not to mention webseries and short films…
8. Have you done any writing outside of the steampunk genre?
I like to discover what I can achieve in different areas, so I change my focus like my socks: regularly. So far, selling the output has proved to be as easy as, er, selling my socks too: not very. However, my socks are, to labour the metaphor, all fairly dark in colour, so when people do sit up and take notice I’m hoping they’ll see this as marvellous variety rather than indecision.
9. If you could give an aspiring writer any one piece of advice, what would it be?
I think that writing is as much craft as art, and crafts need to be learned but there were few great artists who simply grabbed a brush and started dispensing masterpieces. To me, the idea that you can just write every day and work really hard and never give up until you stumble onto greatness is like pointlessly tasking yourself to reinvent the wheel. For a start, you may never make a good wheel that way at all! Why not study under a wheelwright instead?
The book that gave me my foundation is Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey – it’s superficially about screenwriting, but it’s mainly about how to tell a story that people will enjoy. So my advice would be, “Learn to write stories that readers will enjoy”, and if that sounds useless, read the book and take it from that guy who made all those great wheels before you.
10. What are you working on next that readers can look forward to?
I’m releasing lots of ebooks this year which will include horror, dark fantasy and science fiction stories and novellas. The first, End Trails, is the start of a Weird Western series and is out now via Amazon and Smashwords (where it is available at 50% off if you use the code UW22V before January 19th). And there will be future bargains for everyone on my mailing list, starting with the second End Trails title in February…
Andrew Leon Hudson is an Englishman resident in Madrid, Spain, and has been writing full time since the beginning of 2012. In preparation for this he worked in fields as diverse as prosthetic makeup, teaching, contact lens retail, “intoxicant delivery” and the services (customer and military). He used to have his own company, but it died. His first novel, steampunk adventure The Glass Sealing, was published about ten minutes ago. All true.
Except his name isn’t really Andrew Leon Hudson.
Blog (for writing news and fun): andrewleonhudson.wordpress.com
Blog (for reviews and interviews and fun): cartesiantheatre.wordpress.com
Twitter (for very little fun): @AndLeoHud
Musa Publishing has closed, new links will be added when this book finds a new home.