Anthony Laken’s debut novel, One Cog Turning, is a Steampunk adventure that kicks some punch – seriously. It makes you think you’re safe only to jab you in the kidney when you least expect it. The book will be launched at Edge-Lit 6 in Derby, on the 15th of July 2017. To win your free copy of One Cog Turning email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And now let’s hear it from the man himself.
KL: What was the first thing you ever wrote, fiction-wise, and how old were you?
AL: The first thing I wrote with a storyline was a gag comic about a bandit kidney bean. My family loved it, and I got a taste for sharing stories. I was pretty prolific during primary school—my teachers even let me write during maths!—and I wrote a series of adventures about three boys called Mark, Luke and Tom. These were probably my first works of pure fiction.
KL: Did you know you wanted to be a writer when you were young? Or did it happen by chance?
AL: I’m not sure if I wanted to be a writer from my youth, but I have always wanted to tell stories. Comics were a huge part of my childhood, and for a while, I wanted to create them. Then I got into videogames and developed the itch to be involved in that process too. For all of these things I was still writing in some form: storylines, scripts and scenarios. I kept creating, dreaming up worlds, but it wasn’t until my short story, Harix, was chosen for Luna Press’s Beyond Realities 2015 anthology, that I realised I just might be able to make a go at this “writing” lark!
KL: One Cog Turning is quite a substantial first novel. You had to juggle several characters and story lines in it. How do you approach the ‘writing a novel’ process?
AL: If I’d have known how complicated One Cog Turning would turn out to be, I probably wouldn’t have started! Thankfully I was full of the unbound optimism only inexperience can generate. I did have a beginning, middle and an end, and that gave me anchor points. Everything in between was pure “seat of my pants”. Said pants have since needed to be disposed of…
KL: One Cog Turning is an adventure with Steampunk overtones. Were you consciously writing a Steampunk novel, or did it sneak up on you?
AL: The steampunk elements were a bit of a surprise! Initially, I wanted to set the novel in a period akin to the enlightenment, where big ideas in philosophy and engineering were being dreamed up, but maybe not integrated into society yet. In the end, the lure of copper, gears and steam proved too much!
KL: Imagine you had to pack three books to take with you on a one-way trip to Mars. What would they be?
AL: The first book I would choose is Catch 22. It is my favourite novel of all time, the dark humour and cyclical traps the characters find themselves in never fails to entertain. The second book would have to be The Fellowship of the Ring. I know, I know—it’s a cliché, but it inspired my love for the epic and is another book I’ve read countless times. My final book would be The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. This book drew me back into the world of fantasy literature and to me epitomises the genre at its best. It inspired me to write seriously, and without it, there would be no One Cog Turning.
KL: What are you writing at the moment?
AL: I am currently halfway through the final novel of the trilogy which One Cog Turning opens. My characters are a noisy bunch and won’t let me rest till their whole story is told. Hopefully, when I’m done they’ll give it a rest…only for a bit, though!