Steven J. Guscott is our spotlight author this week for an exclusive interview. Steve’s first novel, The Book of Prophecy, was released last year to great success through independent publishers Grimbold Books, and now he is releasing a short novella, The Diary of V. Frankenstein.
The Diary of V. Frankenstein is an Alternate-Reality look at the classic Frankenstein tale by Mary Shelley. It takes a new approach to looking at what could have happened to Dr Frankenstein and his creation. With aspects of Steampunk, Science-Fiction, Equality/Feminism, and of course Gothic/Horror, this is an exciting new tale that will appeal to fans of the original and new readers.
I love stories that use fictional, unique and original settings/characters to make me think, learn and broaden my perspective.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein ticks all those boxes for me and fascinates me in so many ways.
I just can’t help but love the many layers of the story.
2) How did working from source material compare to your other work (Book of Prophecy)?
Great question! For my first story I didn’t need any source material or research. I had a few people help me improve things, but 95% of The Book of Prophecy came from subconscious sources that just flowed out of me as I wrote.
Using source material required a lot more conscious effort to make sure I got my information right, but luckily I have read Frankenstein enough times to draw upon it with reasonable ease. I did have to double and triple check things though, just to be sure. It also puts a lot of pressure on my re-telling/adaptation story as trying to pay homage to the original was a huge task. I hope I’ve done the original story proud, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see what people think.
3) What’s your usual writing process? Do you write at the pace of the story?
That said, I tend to start off with some sort of idea/concept/perspective, then expand that into a start, middle and end plot. I sometimes have a few characters at the start too, but often see what characters appear as I write the general plot ideas out. At this point I have a good skeleton idea of what’s going to happen in the story, and who it’s happening to.
I then try to write out approximate/rough chapter by chapter occurrences i.e some dialogue/character interaction and plot. This fleshes it out and creates a good body of writing that I can work with. Once this is done I write it scene by scene and developed it as I go and it ends in a first draft.
The last, but most exhausting process tends to be the editing and tightening up any waffling or weaknesses in characters/plot. It then takes about 50 more reads and edits to spot all the little typos that slip through the cracks.
4) How long have you been writing? Can you remember some of your early stories and did any of them lead into either The Diary of V. Frankenstein or The Book of Prophecy?
I started writing in 2010 when I needed a new hobby to keep me busy. A few ideas came to my mind, and they became The Book of Prophecy- and the five books that will follow as part of the series.
A few stories have just evolved as I’ve tried to explore this creative side to my personality.
The Diary of V. Frankenstein was originally just an idea I had shelved to have some fun with in the future. I was encouraged to explore the ideas earlier than I had anticipated by my publisher, Sammy HK Smith for the charity anthology, Strange Tales from the Scriptorian Vaults. I had a lot of fun creating the short story for that. It was hard work, but Sammy was great at helping me turn the short story in to a really fascinating piece.
A year later a friend said they loved one of the character’s, John Idaho Thatcher and wanted to see more of him. I decided to explore this and it turned into the novella The Diary of V. Frankenstein.
5) What has been your favourite part about writing? What drives you to keep writing and gets you through writer’s block?
I just love being creative and exploring characters and perspectives. It also helps a lot when other people enjoy the stories too, as that is a very special feeling to know your story gave someone enjoyment.
6) What sort of tropes and clichés do you actively try to avoid, and are they things you think the genre needs to move away from? If so, how and why?
I’ll be honest I don’t think about it too much. I tend to try and let the story write itself (cliché alert! But it’s true). I try to write what I feel is a reasonably unique and enjoyable story for me and that’s it. Once it’s written I’ll read it through and spot anything that doesn’t feel right, or get called up on it by my editor. Then I’ll hopefully learn and it won’t happen in any following stories.
I hope new readers of my stories enjoy the things I enjoy writing about, but then a lot of writers I know have stories that are very different from one another, and I think that’s how mine will be as I write more, so those who don’t like one, might enjoy another.
I don’t think the genre needs to move away from anything too much, as all perspectives are important. It just needs a lot lot! LOT! more diversity in the main stream media. Thankfully the diversity is there, I’ve seen it in lots of stories I’ve read and it’s beautiful, yet, the problem lies in main stream media’s lack of acceptance of diversity.
7) Tell us about your experience with publishing. How have you found working with an independent publisher?
The publishing world is more brutal than I ever imagined. This, on a basic level, is due to supply and demand. I feel like there is an ocean of writers which can make it hard to get notice. That said the opposition and struggle only help me improve as a writer, and I try to let the struggles make me a better person.
In terms of working with an independent publisher, I couldn’t be happier! I know there are a lot of horror stories about independent publishers, but as I said, I couldn’t be happier!! All the people involved in Grimbold Books are amazing, especially the owners of the company. It is a family and we all do our best to support each other, but I have been so blessed to be supported by Sammy HK Smith who captains the Kristell-Ink press. She has helped me become a better writer and truly believes in everything she publishes. Both the owners are in this for the long game and focus on quality and that sets them apart from so many other companies.
8) What else are you working on? Can you give us some teasers?
The next project will be The Heart of Nature, the follow-up to The Book of Prophecy. The story is written, but I need to do some hardcore trimming and fine tuning. The Book of Prophecy is the first in the series so obviously an introduction to the themes, concepts and conflict between the characters. It was also a bit narrow in its style because it is mostly from one person’s point of view. The Heart of Nature is where we get to see the personal development of multiple characters and the expansion of the concepts introduced. I’m excited to see what fans of the first book think of this follow-up.
I also have another stand alone novella that needs some work. It, like The Diary of V. Frankenstein, pays homage to stories I love. This time it’s Greek Mythology.
9) What do you have planned for The Diary of V. Frankenstein’s book launch?
I feel very fortunate because I’ve been invited to a Gothic Literature event in Sheffield, England to showcase the story. The event is titled ‘Re-imagining the Gothic: Monsters and Monstrosities’ and being held on the 7th of May and I’m combing my book launch with the event. I’ve also been asked to give a twenty minute presentation on this story and how it relates to the theme of the event. I’m very excited for the book launch and sharing The Diary of V. Frankenstein with the world.