Today’s author, Chris Pavesic, is a very special lady. Not only has she published some excellent short fiction in her time, she’s also written a spectacular steampunk novel, The Caelimane Operation, the most recent novel in the Darkside Codex shared world series from Musa, to be released tomorrow.
Please give Chris a warm welcome and don’t forget to read until the end so you can enter to win some awesome books.
Can you tell us a bit about The Caelimane Operation?
The Caelimane Operation is set in the shared world of the Darkside Codex. This world, which revolves around the city of Southwatch, was created by Celina Summers and Richard C. White. Stories in this world are based in the steampunk genre, but can have additional elements of science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, horror, romance, paranormal, and/or noir.
After reading the Darkside Codex bible (a text which provides authors the basic concepts of a shared world) I was drawn to the religious concepts outlined by Summers and White. The Caelimane Temple is a powerful organization in the world they created, but it has been gradually losing influence with the general population due to many factors, including the Temple’s inability to banish the dark cloud of pollution that plagues Southwatch. I found it interesting that the Temple elders routinely send out members of the clergy on secret missions, called penusms, to spy on both the human population and the fae. From this scenario my story began to develop.
In The Caelimane Operation, the Temples to the Goddess outside of Southwatch have been burned and human followers of Dione murdered. A seemingly unstoppable army of the undead ravages the countryside. Suspicion for these crimes falls on the fae. It is believed by the human population that only a fae sorcerer could control the amount of magic necessary to raise such abominations. The fae were also the first to worship Dione and there are those among both the Seelie and Unseelie courts who resent the usurpation of their religion by humans.
Catherine, a Hierocrat in the Caelimane Temple, is assigned to infiltrate an annual gathering of the fae that includes members of both courts, find those responsible for the murders, and bring them to justice. With only the help of a traveling group of minstrels and a retired fae investigator, Catherine must solve the mystery before more people are killed. But with members of her own Temple and rogue members of the Seelie Court working against her, events do not unfold as planned.
When did you decide you wanted to pursue writing as more than a hobby?
I have written stories, poems, and novels since I can remember. I have several short stories and poems that have been published in small print local venues. Two years ago I started to pursue this a more than a hobby and, in 2013, I made my first professional sale to Penumbra eMag. “Going Home” was the featured story in the H.G. Wells-inspired issue. (Yes—another steampunk connection!)
If you could attribute your writing success to one turning point in your life, what would it be and why?
The turning point in my writing came when I decided to write the type of novels and stories that I enjoyed reading. Speculative fiction, steampunk, science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, young adult, and noir—these are the types of novels that fill my bookshelves. J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Jim Butcher, Agatha Christie, Piers Anthony, Douglas Adams, H.G. Wells, and Stephen King—these are the authors who have created story worlds that I have inhabited in my imagination.
The Darkside Codex books are written in a shared world. Have you ever considered writing books within a world of your own creation?
Yes–I have two novels right now that are in the outline stage that are set in my own story worlds. I hope to start writing one of them in the spring.
Can you give us a brief rundown of your writing process?
My process differs between short stories and novels. For short stories, I envision the entire story before I start writing—almost like watching a movie in my thoughts. Then I try to capture it in words.
For novels I tend to start with an idea that grows into a story question. (The story question is a way to summarize the plot of the novel in two or three sentences.) This is an important step for me because it helps to capture the core ideas of the story. For The Caelimane Operation I wrote the following story question:
When the Temples to the Goddess north of Southwatch are burned and followers of Dione are murdered, Hierocrat Catherine, a bard of the Caelimane Temple, sets out to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. With only the help of a traveling group of minstrels and a retired fae investigator, Catherine must solve the mystery before more people are killed, but will she succeed when she finds herself pitted against members of her own Temple, rogue members of the Seelie Court, and a seemingly unstoppable army of undead?
I will then write a few chapters of the novel to get a “feel” for the story, and then develop an outline. I review the story question every time I sit down to write so that I can keep my focus on the core ideas and reference the outline for each chapter.
After completing a draft I ignore it for a few days. (This is generally hard!) I then start reading and revising.
What’s the hardest part of the writing process for you and how do you make it easier for yourself?
The hardest part is taking time away from my family and friends to write. It used to seem selfish to sit in a room by myself and type words onto a glowing screen. Because of this, I tried to “force” writing into my schedule. I would stay up until the wee hours of the night, giving up sleep, in order to write. This was not the best idea for my health, wellbeing, or writing. (I never fell asleep at the keyboard, but it was close a few nights!) It took a while, but I did realize that writing can “fit” into my life. I schedule it into my day now, just like I would for any task I need to complete. I don’t feel guilty about working, gardening, or folding laundry. Why should I feel guilty about writing? Just because I enjoy it does not mean it is something I should omit from my schedule. Now if I stay up to the wee hours of the night, it is because I am reading a terrific book I just cannot put down.
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?
Steampunk stories and novels have been part of speculative fiction for more than 100 years. Writers like H.G. Wells, Jules Vern, and Mary Shelly had steampunk elements in their writing.
In television, shows like The Wild Wild West (1965-1969), The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. (1993), Legend (1995), Warehouse 13 (2009-2014), Dracula (2013), and the later seasons of Doctor Who (beginning in 2005 and continuing to the present) have steampunk influences. The Doctor Who Christmas Special, “A Christmas Carol “(2010), starring Matt Smith is an excellent example of the genre.
Have you done any writing outside of the steampunk genre?
Yes—I enjoy speculative fiction of all types. I have written science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, horror, young adult, paranormal, and noir. Fairy tales are a special favorite of mine.
If you could give an aspiring writer any one piece of advice, what would it be?
I would like to share a bit of advice from another writer. Jim Butcher wrote the following on his Goodreads blog, and it is advice that really stuck with me:
“YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE IN THE WORLD WHO CAN KILL YOUR DREAM. *NO ONE* can make you quit. *NO ONE* can take your dream away. No one but you.” (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/10746.Jim_Butcher/blog)
I found this inspirational, and I hope that my readers do too!
10. What are you working on next that readers can look forward to?
Along with several short stories, I currently am working on the sequel to The Caelimane Operation tentatively titled The Fae Accord. I also have outlines for two other novels, one in the urban fantasy and noir category and one young adult novel set in a steampunk story world.
Turns out, Chris is also a talented video editor. Check out her book trailer below:
Chris Pavesic lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.
You can contact Chris at email@example.com