Welcome to our weekly feature,
Have you ever had a dream with a character so vivid that you just couldn’t forget him or her? Well, that’s what happened to this week’s author J. P. Catton who turned a dream’s character into a re-imagined Frankenstein in his Steampunk Regency novel, “Moonlight, Murder, and Machinery.” So, grab a cup of coffee or pour yourself a cold brew — beverages are always on the house — pull up a chair, and enjoy this journey into the Regency England of Jane Austen’s time.
J. P., at what age did you first realize you wanted to write books and how/when did you first share this ambition with “the world”? Between age 18 and age 25, I shifted from getting top grades in science at high school to top grades in literature, and I decided that I wanted to do something in writing. On entering college, I wanted to go into newspaper journalism, but within a few years, that had changed to a focus upon writing fiction.
Who in your life and what authors you read had the most influence over your decision to write? At high school and University, the writers that shaped my development were Ray Bradbury, John Keats, H. P. Lovecraft, Virginia Woolf, and George Orwell. After Uni, I lived in the English city of Northampton for a few years and met the comic writer Alan Moore, because Northampton is his hometown. It was awe-inspiring. Twenty years on, I still think Alan Moore is an Eldritch Pagan God who has taken human form to walk among us and lead a select few to enlightenment. I am joking, folks, but only a little bit.
What influence, if any, has your career choice had on your choice of writing subjects? It was studying Literature – the Romantic Poets, Victorian novelists, modern novelists - that got me into writing in the first place. I deliberately went into teaching Literature because a) teaching is traditionally a second career for writers and b) I wanted to give something back, to explain to young people the literature that inspired me could also inspire them.
You characterize your novel “Moonlight, Murder, and Machinery” as “Steampunk Regency.” Can you explain that for our readers unfamiliar with the genre? Steampunk is a kind of alternative-reality Science Fiction. It plays an intellectual game whereby certain events occur in the Victorian era that cause the time line to diverge, and produce a reality that is similar to ours, but different in bizarre and exotic ways.
Now, please tell us about your novel – what’s it about and from where did you get the idea for it? The Steampunk genre is usually in the late 19th Century, but my novel is set earlier, in the Regency England of Jane Austen’s time, because of a huge Anomalous Event that occurs in 1742. This leads to the return of the Druids, Bonny Prince Charlie taking the English throne and the Industrial Revolution going in a completely unexpected direction.
But quite aside from this, it’s a love story. And a re-imagining of Frankenstein. With pirates, smugglers and highwaymen added.
The idea came first, many years ago, from an image I saw in a dream. The image was a of masked man wearing a Napoleonic Era military uniform but carrying strangely futuristic weapons, leaping through the stained glass window of an ominous-looking cathedral, smashing it to pieces to reach the girl he loves, who is in dire peril. I started to wonder about who he was and what kind of alternative reality he came from.
You reside in Japan. Does this influence your writing and, if so, how? Japanese society, history, culture and mythology are fascinating subjects full of unexplored opportunities.
I am currently working on an urban fantasy trilogy named “Sword, Mirror, Jewel,” based on the Three Imperial Treasures of Japan, and featuring creatures from Japanese myths and legends.
Is there another genre you’d like to try and what attracts you about that genre? In the past, I tried writing novels with explicit adult themes, such as cosmic horror and the suspense/mystery/serial killer genre. I’d like to go back and see if those could be rewritten for possible publication.
If you could pick another author’s character and use him or her as a character in a novel, who would that be and in what type of setting would you write about him or her? My fantasy is to take the BBC TV character Bernard Quatermass and do a series called “Young Quatermass”, where he investigates scientific horrors in World War II Britain.
You poll your readers and ask them to list five words that best describe your writing. What top five words do they list? What! The! Heck! Is! This!
Are you a dog person or cat person and what kind of canine or feline assistance with your writing do you receive, if any? I’m a cat person. Definitely. But Tokyo is not the kind of place to raise a cat, so I make do with the cat spirits who whisper things into my ear when I’m asleep.
You’re admitted to heaven and you decide to throw a dinner party to celebrate your arrival. What five people, living or dead, are on your guest list? Alan Moore, William Burroughs, Timothy Leary, Andre Breton, Virginia Woolf.
Where can you and your books be found – please share your links.
Author page: http://johnpaulcatton.com/
Publisher page: http://jpcatton-excaliburbooks.blogspot.jp/
J. P. Catton, Author Biography: John Paul Catton is a British writer currently living in Japan. He travelled extensively before settling down in west Tokyo, and is spending his time now writing speculative fiction, supernatural thrillers, retro-punk and urban fantasy for adults of all ages. He is the co-founder of Excalibur Books (with publisher Winston Saint).
The E-Pub PUB thanks J. P. Catton for spending time with us to discuss this fascinating novel. We look forward to his next book and wish him much success with it!