I’m a judge for the Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC), and wanted to spotlight some of the authors in the contest.
Drew Melbourne, Author of Percival Gynt and the Conspiracy of Days
(Questions in Bold)
What was your gateway into speculative fiction? What made you decide to write it?
Oh gosh. So many things! My childhood was a perfect storm of geekery. My brother John was my first Dungeon Master and the clerk at my local comic shop. My mom was deep into the 80s Doctor Who fan community. In prose, I was mostly getting fantasy early on. CS Lewis and Lloyd Alexander and Susan Cooper, but then I discovered Douglas Adams when I was in maybe 5th grade, and the damage was done. I can’t remember when I found out, but my mom was actually working on a kids sci-fi novel when I was a baby. She was home with me, and I was — I dunno — spitting up on myself in my crib, and she was at the dining room table writing out a whole book longhand. Multiple complete drafts! Hundreds and hundreds of pages. I don’t think she ever got as far as sending it out to editors, etc. but it shaped her. And us! I grew up just… *intrinsically* aware that stories aren’t just a thing that’s given to us. They’re things that anyone can create — that *everyone* can create — and share with the world.
Douglas Adams is who I thought of immediately when my group previewed your book, “Percival Gynt and the Conspiracy of Days.” To me, it had that same fun vibe without having the comedy detract from the story. Other than Adams, what inspirations did you draw on for “Percival Gynt”?
I’m a neurodiverse author. I have ADHD. And one of the things I’ve learned about myself over the years is, whether as author or audience, my brain is really geared to fiction that tries to do everything. That’s funny and scary and sad and exciting and thoughtful and ridiculous and and and… I actually have a bad habit of falling asleep watching TV or movies, even stuff I like, if it’s just the same tone over and over. My brain has a hard time maintaining focus.
There’s a movie I saw this year called EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE that I adore, and I caught an interview with the directors on NPR where they described the movie as “maximalist.” As in, the opposite of minimalist. And it was a real light bulb moment for me, because I never had a word for it before, but that’s absolutely it. I write maximalist fiction. So a lot of my inspiration is just “everything I’ve ever loved in a blender” but I also have these touchstones, creators or works that really exemplify what I’m trying to do. I go back to a comic book guy, Kieth Giffen, who was doing this amazing stuff with JUSTICE LEAGUE and LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES in the late 80s. To BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, which magically sprang into existence without a writer. To PRINCESS BRIDE. The movie and, maybe more importantly, the book. And to Shakespeare, when I’m feeling fancy!
I definitely get a sense of “everything and the kitchen sink” in this book, but you make it work! There are at least 3 possible sequels teased in the novel–will we be seeing more of Percival Gynt and/or others?
Indeed! The one I can talk about is PERCIVAL GYNT AND THE INEVITABILITY OF FIRE AND OTHER CASES which, if the stars align and fate finds favor, should finally be out in 2023. It’s a short story collection, set mostly before the events of CONSPIRACY OF DAYS, and structured so that it can be enjoyed equally by new and returning readers. In it, Percival catches killers, slays monsters, exorcizes ghosts, and saves Christmas! And plays bridge. Not well, but he’s a good sport about it. Oh. And the title novella, THE INEVITABILITY OF FIRE, is structured like an old-time Choose Your Own Adventure!
So lots of fun ridiculous stuff, and along the way we’re watching this flawed young man grow into the hero of CONSPIRACY OF DAYS.
I can’t wait to read about Percival saving Christmas, among other things! Where can readers find you?
Folks can pick up a copy of CONSPIRACY OF DAYS from Amazon.
I’m @drewmelbourne on Twitter until it implodes and I’m forced to decamp to Instagram, Hive, Mastadon, or Fnargle. And my website, https://drewmelbourne.com, is a great place to find out more about my work, with links to reviews, interviews, merch, and more.
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The Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC) Hub– Check out all of my posts related to the SPSFC here!
Science Fiction Hub– I have scores of reviews of Hugo nominees, Vintage Sci-Fi, modern sci-fi, TV series, and more! Check out my science fiction related writings here.
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