Genevieve Valentine, in addition to publishing a number of short stories, is the author of the interesting dark fantasy, Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti. In this interview, she talks about where the idea for Mechanique came from, what sort of research it required, as well as how she created the characters. She also talks about things like who she likes to read and what she likes to do for fun.
Alex C. Telander: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Genevieve Valentine: Turns out no matter how far back I follow the family tree, I’m not landed gentry; since that was out of the question as a lifestyle, I figured I might as well write.
Alex: Who are some of your influences?
Genevieve: Peter S. Beagle, Angela Carter, Octavia Butler, Tanith Lee, Carl Sagan, and Herodotus are all people whose writing I enjoy immensely and whose works I return to again and again.
Alex: Do you remember the first thing you wrote?
Genevieve: It was a one-page story about a girl who goes into the forest and runs into a magical insect and has adventures. (I’m not being coy, it just said “had adventures.” I was five, and didn’t have the hang of plot yet.)
Alex: Where did the idea for Mechanique come from?
Genevieve: I’ve always enjoyed acrobats, and the more you become aware of the talent and dedication these athletes have, the easier it is to think of them as superhuman. The rest of the story grew from that idea.
Alex: Did it require any sort of research?
Genevieve: I did some research into the physical aspects of being an aerialist, and some extremely fun research on circuses of the past and their various spectacles.
Alex: Each of the characters in the story is quite unique. Did you develop them first, or did they grow and develop as you wrote the book?
Genevieve: Thank you! I’m a character junkie, so for me any story definitely starts with the characters at its center, and the story is shaped by how the characters react to the world around them, and more importantly, to each other.
Alex: What were the steps that led to the publication of Mechanique?
Genevieve: Sean Wallace, head of Prime Books, had read another book of mine, and asked if I had anything in a dark-fantasy vein. I had notes for Mechanique in my “someday” folder, and figured there was never going to be a better time to write some sample pages and see if they stuck. They came out a little unusual, but I loved them, and luckily for the book, so did Sean!
Alex: Do you plan to write more in this incredible world?
Genevieve: Never say never. There’s certainly a lot left unsaid in the first book that I’d like to visit someday, in some form or another!
Alex: Are there any other projects you’re working on?
Genevieve: I have several short stories I’m working on, and I have a few more novel projects in the works!
Alex: Do you have any advice for writers looking to get published?
Genevieve: That stuff they tell you about writing a million terrible words before you start getting good? It applies to you. Keep writing.
Alex: Do you have a set writing schedule you keep to?
Genevieve: Whenever I can, for as long as I can. Ideally I’d have a set schedule, but life is uncertain and you tend to take advantage of whatever time you can find.
Alex: Who do you like to read?
Genevieve: Right now I’m enjoying a range of things, both fiction and nonfiction: Ekaterina Sedia, N.K Jemisin, and Delia Sherman have all put out some amazing stuff recently, and in terms of nonfiction I’m always trying to work my way through a stack of research books that usually ends up being as tall as I am.
Alex: What are you reading right now?
Genevieve: At the moment I’m doing some research into the Great Exhibition in London and Greek women’s dress. They’re unrelated, but require equal amounts of research time.
Alex: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Genevieve: I have a day job and I write, so sadly, “spare time” usually means “the point at which I have to go to bed before my liver shuts down.” However, there always seems to be time to watch one more bad movie, which is nice!
Alex: Who’s your favorite actor and why?
Genevieve: This is a totally impossible question that I could never conclusively answer; on the other hand, Cate Blanchett petty much knocks it out of the park every time, so.
Alex: Who’s your favorite author and why?
Genevieve: Another impossible question! Has Cate Blanchett written any books lately?