#KrakenSales2018 Interview with Austin Chant!
My small indie collective of amazing queer SFF writers has put together an awesome Sales/Party to celebrate its first anniversary!
From January 26th to February 1st, 19 indie authors have put their awesome stories with queer heroes on sale. And what’s more, we put together a personality quiz to let you see which of our queer heroes you are! You can learn more here.
For today, I am hosting one of the 19 authors, Austin Chant, whom I’ve had the pleasure to read this month! I may have been smitten with his work, and I’m really happy to have him here today!
1. Why southern gothic? What appealed to you in this period or genre?
I think of Caroline’s Heart as Southern Gothic-inspired more than strictly Southern Gothic, to be honest (it’s not in quite the right location and doesn’t engage with a lot of the history that specifically makes that genre what it is). But Southern Gothic deals a lot with the idea of decay being hidden behind façades, which is Cecily’s character in a nutshell, and it contributed a lot to the atmosphere/aesthetic of the book – hot, oppressive, quiet, and dead-but-not-dead. What pulled me firmly to the historic setting was the idea of a trans cowboy, which I obviously couldn’t resist.
All of my love interests have significant ex-lovers, for one thing, and they’re usually dead. I’m working on being less consistent about this, but there you go. A lot of my favorite tropes show up in this book: characters who manage to be their own worst enemies, love interests who are taller and/or older than the protagonist, etc.
I think the worldbuilding is where it stands out from my other works. I got to lean into creating a magic system, which was a lot of fun, and the setting in general is richer and more integral to the story than it is in my other books. Plus, it’s spooky!
3. I love Roy’s quiet stubbornness. It feels really calming to be around him. Can you talk about the challenges writing him? What was the hardest, and what was the easiest?
The toughest part of writing Roy was getting him to stand out next to Cecily! She’s this glamorous, all-powerful sorceress, and she has the personality to match. Meanwhile, Roy is not only not magical, he’s someone who does his best to be inoffensive, unremarkable, unnoticed. He’s a trans dude trying to blend in to the scenery in 1885. But I wanted to bring attention to the ways that he is remarkable — he’s steadfast and loving and very, very determined under the easy-going veneer, and those are qualities even an all-powerful sorceress can appreciate. He struggles to fit in with the loud, performative masculinity in his surroundings because he doesn’t need to stomp around and prove himself, he can just be at ease sipping coffee with someone he loves. That’s what lets him keep on an equal footing with Cecily in spite of the power dynamic between them.
In general, I think Roy was one of the easier characters I’ve written. I’m also a very laid-back person even when I’m screaming internally, so I was usually in tune with his way of navigating the world.
4. I’m not exactly a big connoisseur of all things witchcraft, and I’d love to hear more about the research or spark of idea behind Cecily’s resurrection spell.
My original idea for the resurrection spell was a little more sci-fi or at least steampunk — Cecily was going to be constructing a full-on robot body for her lover with clockwork! and gears! and bringing it to life ala Frankenstein’s monster. Ultimately, though, that clashed with the way I wanted Cecily to do magic. She’s a very airy person, and I liked the idea that her witchcraft is about capturing intangible power from the air around her and weaving it into something tangible. Rather than a literal body being brought to life, I wanted Cecily’s resurrection spell to be about trying to recapture Caroline’s spirit. Her resurrection spell became a sort of spiderweb as a result, like a net to catch a ghost. It’s intangible because that’s the exact thing Cecily is wrestling with, trying to rebuild a person out of memories and associations.
5. What’s next? Are you working on something right now, or have a book slated for publication?
I don’t currently have anything with a set publication date, but my next book will be the sequel to Peter Darling, and it’s currently in a second draft-y state of being. I also have a secret project that will involve at least two romance novels, but I’m also interested in experimenting with more traditional sci-fi and fantasy — those are the stories I grew up with and the ones I’ve always wanted to queer. I also might be working on a tabletop game? Whoops.
Thank you so much, Austin! And, I’m sorry, a tabletop game? That just sounds so great! Colour me highly excited. 😀
I highly recommend everyone pick up Caroline’s Heart now. It’s only 99¢, and worth every sweet minute of it!