Inspired by a dream, S. C. Barrus set out to write a steampunk novel with all the elements of a great adventure. Having finished the manuscript, Barrus placed the project on Kickstarter.com in hopes of raising the money to have it professionally produced. Barrus sat down with the Bookworm to answer some questions about the project.
Give us a blurb about your book.
In the budding age of steam technology, Freddy Fitzgerald risks everything to write the story of a lifetime!
After stealing an ancient map from under the nose of a notorious gangster, Freddy Fitzgerald and Thaddeus Lumpen embark on a quest to find a lost civilization. But as news of the map spreads, Freddy and Lumpen find themselves racing against a violent army of archaeologists, gangsters, mercenaries, scuttlers, and scarlettes.
But their island destination has its own secrets, secrets which can make even the strongest go mad.
“Discovering Aberration” is a witty, action packed Victorian Steampunk adventure that takes you from a country on the verge of revolution to a sensational confrontation on a remote island, where its final, chilling secret will push them to the brink of insanity.
Why should readers care?
If you like a great read, if you want to take part in a thrilling adventure, you should check out a page of the novel. When you read it, either you’ll care and read on, or you won’t and move on. Many people seem to love it, hopefully you will too.
Tell us about the dream that inspired it.
About 3 years ago, I had this insane dream. This isn’t unusual for me. My dreams have a tendency to be extravagant productions. In this dream I found myself on a remote island blanketed with thick, thriving jungle. Through this jungle my team of explorers and I trekked, pressing through walls of great leaves and hanging vines in search of something mysterious and grand.
As we hacked through the foliage, the world opened up around us, and before us was revealed a great lake; a crater with a shimmering light submerged deep below the surface. It was the first sign of our discovery. But as we peered into the depths of the lake, our hearts sank when we saw a horrific sight. Within the lake was a massive beast, a dragon like creature, which swam about our discovery, protecting it over the centuries.
So we did what anybody in this situation might do. We built a rocket and strung it to the ground with massive rubber bands. We climbed inside and the strange device shot us up into the air, and then, when we reached the point at which the rubber bands were stretched to their limit, we were hurled back down into the lake to speed past the great and terrible beast.
It was a silly, adventurous dream. The dream served as inspiration for me to begin writing the novel, but there are no dragons here. Something much more sinister stalks the island jungle.
What draws you to steampunk?
Honestly, I barely knew anything about steampunk before I began to write “Discovering Aberration”. I had played a few steampunk video games like “Arcanum”, but I certainly had never read a steampunk novel (I’ve read a couple since though). I simply was drawing inspiration from Jules Verne because I loved his work so much.
“Discovering Aberration” is a Victorian era adventure novel with sci-fi elements, but I hadn’t set out to write a steampunk novel. Still, I quickly realized I was writing somewhere in the realm of the genre, so I embraced it.
Steampunk is cool because of its unique blend of the old and the new, which “Discovering Aberration” has in spades. We combine an old style of writing and old setting with modern sense of pacing and thrills.
Steampunk is also a very freeing genre. It’s modern incarnation still very young in literary terms, so there is room for growth, for experimentation and fresh ideas. “Discovering Aberration” has all these elements, so I think the steampunk community will continue to embrace it.
I love Kickstarter! I love everything about it. It’s a place fostering creative independence, meaning I don’t need to rely on a major publisher. Instead, I can reach out to my current and future readers, and they choose whether it should be made or not.
For readers who don’t know what Kickstarter is, it’s a crowdfunding platform where creatives post projects and make a funding goal. My project is my novel, “Discovering Aberration” and my goal is to raise $3,700 to fund professional editing and design. Everyday people can pledge their support by investing anywhere between $1 and $5,000 and in return they will receive rewards for their support, like early copies of the novel and other incentives.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
I could list inspiration all day but I’ll try to keep it short. For “Discovering Aberration”, authors who really inspired me have been Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson. “Around the World in 80 Days” heavily inspired the writing style and some of the humor, while “Treasure Island” and “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” together really inspired the tone.
Then comes Cormac McCarthy’s novel “The Road”. This was an intense book where the survival of the main characters felt like it depended on you reading the novel. It’s a feeling I try to capture in the later chapters.
Other authors I love include Kurt Vonnegut, Hermann Hess, John Steinbeck, Orson Scott Card, Jonathan Safran Foer, and lately Patrick Rothfuss, and many more.
Is it safe to say that you are obsessed with Felicia Day?
I wouldn’t say obsessed. I am a fan of her. I think she’s been in some great works, my favorites being “Dr. Horribles Sing Along Blog” and The “Guild”.
There’s a story behind this question, so I’ll explain it for people who don’t know. When I was writing “Discovering Aberration” I was having trouble with the character of Ms. Newton. She was bland and boring, but I didn’t want to leave her as a two dimensional character. Anyway, to make a long story short, I spent weeks re-crafting this character.
While you write novels, you toy with the idea of it being turned into a movie, or I do anyway. I always wonder who would be the best actor to play who. I don’t know for most of the characters. For Captain Aca, I picture Ray Winston, and for Ms. Newton I picture Felicia Day.
After realizing this, I started a Google Plus campaign where I’m trying to get Felica Day to read and comment on one chapter from “Discovering Aberration” which features her character. I’m still trying, which is probably why the internet now thinks I’m obsessed with her. But there’s more to it than that.
Every month I choose a celebrity or public figure I try to contact so I can ask them at least one or two questions along the lines of “Is there any one thing that you attribute to your success?” or “Knowing what you know now, what would you do differently in terms of building your career?” That sort of thing. Some are easy to contact, and happy to answer questions. Others are nearly impossible to contact. And some, like Felicia Day, seem like they might be easy to contact, but are actually pretty difficult.
With the campaign, I’m just trying to have some fun, and if in the end she reads it, that would be awesome. But So then you need to be creative.
What do you do for fun?
I have a 9 month year old boy, so mostly I play with him these days. In between I try to sneak in some muay thai (kickboxing), rock climbing, listening to audiobooks, playing old school videogames (right now I’m playing Heroes of Might and Magic 3 and before that I played Planescape: Torment), and just enjoying life. And then there’s the writing. Apart from family, I spend most of my time writing.
What advice do you have for other indie authors?
It’s hard to give advice when I’m still trying to make it. I spent years simply getting my writing to the place where I thought it was ready to push out there. I test out ideas everyday, evaluate them, then try again. I trust my audience to come through for me and in return I work my hardest to come through for them. I try to foster real relationships with my readers because they are real people who will truly and deeply care for you if you let them, and I care for them in return. I value my work enough to try and give it the very best indie publishing has to offer even though it takes more time and costs more money.
So far, all of that seems to be working. But I’ve got a long ways to go yet. Maybe there’s some advice in there. When I write full time and can look back to what I’ve done and say “That’s what worked, and that’s what didn’t”, on that day I’ll share all my advice with the world.
The Kickstarter is set to end on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 7:00 PM EDT.
- “Discovering Aberration” on Kickstarter
- Sample of “Discovering Aberration” on Wattpad
- S. C. Barrus’s Website
- S. C. Barrus on Facebook
- Subscribe to the New Orleans Book Examiner