Hello everyone! We are excited to have steampunk author Mollie E. Reeder with us! Here’s a little about Mollie: her first job was with a major theme park where she operated a roller coaster, fixed parade floats, and helped Scooby-Doo put on his head. Now, she’s a movie producer and the author of character-driven science fiction/fantasy novels for adults who never outgrew imagination. Her self-published debut, The Electrical Menagerie, was selected by Publisher’s Weekly for a starred review in 2018, and its sequel, Circus of Disasters, is scheduled for 2019. Her favorite things include Jesus, dinosaurs, and training her border collie, Valor, to be a movie star.
Now onto our questions!
1) What is your favorite part of speculative fiction?
I love that speculative fiction lets us explore reality from a new perspective. Science fiction and fantasy is often put down as “escapist”, but if you look at common tropes, those stories have always trended toward serious and relevant themes. Speculative fiction lets you put real, familiar things in a new context to explore them in fresh ways, and I love that.
2) Everyone seems to have a “how I got published” story. What is yours?
Self-publishing The Electrical Menagerie was always my “Plan A”. At the time, I was splitting my time between working on the book and trying to secure distribution for the film I worked on, and I needed the freedom to control my own publishing schedule. I also really enjoy business and marketing (that’s the producer side!) and I wanted the challenge of taking my own book to market. My goal from the beginning was to create something that felt competitive alongside traditionally published books.
After spending about eight years really focused on the film industry I had to invest about two full years (and three unpublished manuscripts) just absorbing everything I could and figuring out how the publishing industry worked. It’s fascinating — screenwriters and book authors speak two different languages!
3) What is the one author, living or dead, who you would like to co-write a book with someday and why?
That would have to be Enclave’s own Gillian Bronte Adams. We are great friend and critique partners, and we meet up regularly to write together, but we have yet to co-write anything! Gillian is a kindred spirit.
4) If you could travel anywhere for book research (all expenses paid) where would you go and why?
I would love to travel Europe by luxury sleeper train. Although my characters actually live on a train in The Electrical Menagerie, I’ve actually never traveled that way! To paraphrase, I once heard someone compare train travel to “a really old movie that has a lot of boring parts that you wish you could fast-forward, but it’s also interesting enough that you also really want to see how it ends” and I found that hilarious.
5) What were some of the challenges for you writing your book?
The biggest challenge for me on The Electrical Menagerie was writing from Carthage’s deep POV. I do relate to Carthage in a few distinct ways, but between the two of them, I am genuinely Huxley. I am extroverted and pragmatic and I thrive in roles that require concrete thinking and an aggressive attention to detail. Carthage’s shy, abstract personality is really not something I identify with, and when I started writing the first draft, I really struggled with finding that voice.
It wasn’t until halfway through the book — Chapter 10, specifically — that I suddenly understood who he was, and then he had a strong presence on the page and I’ve never struggled with that since. It’s been very gratifying to hear how many readers identify with him.
I like to joke that Huxley starts all of his chapters with a To-Do List of things he intends to accomplish and Carthage starts all of his with a “Dear Diary…”
6) What is the strangest thing you’ve had to research for your novel?
It wasn’t what I was trying to look up, but in the process of reading up on orange groves — because the Huxley family owns one — I discovered that orange growers are not paid per orange, or pound of orange, but per pound of sugar contained in a box of oranges. This is determined in a lab these days, but the basic gist of it is that if you squeezed all the juice out of a 90-pound crate of oranges and boiled the juice down to nothing but sugar, your “pound-solids” of sugar leftover is multiplied times a going rate.
Okay, so that’s not very strange, but it was one of the most interesting random facts I’ve stumbled on yet!
7) What is your favorite part about writing?
I love the first draft! I’m a plotter, so I usually do a lot of outlining and fixing problems beforehand. I love getting started on the first draft and seeing how the outline then evolves through the discovery of actually writing the first draft. The outline usually keeps me from getting too lost or overwhelmed, which makes the freedom of the blank page fun.
Thank you for joining us, Mollie! Here is where you can find her online:
The Electrical Menagerie: www.amazon.com/Electrical-Menagerie