The following is an interview between Charlene Castor of WE and an SFF author from Del Sol Press, Warwick Gleeson, discussing the debut novel in his upcoming series: Piper Robbin and the American Oz Maker. DSP requested this interview, and we couldn't be happier about it after reading the actual novel.
May the best evil win.Beta readers were floored by this unique, face-slapping, mind fuck of a novel. As a writer of fantasy, or science-fantasy, you've birthed from the void, or so it seems. What is the origin of Warwick Gleeson?
I've been writing screenplays, short and long fiction, and poetry for many years. I've used various pseudos, lived in LA, NYC, worried about being homeless, the usual. Much of my work has been published, most was never published. I love SFF in all its forms, especially work that pushes us out of the solar system for a few thousand light years. I was the major writer, creator, and senior story editor for another project published by DSP called War of the World Makers that debuted a couple years ago. It has since won four national novel awards (two first place and two place) for SFF.
How did you invent the unpredictably bizarre world of "Piper Robbin and the American Oz Maker"?
A synergy of things seeking resolution at the right time. The AOZ represents my need as a writer and reader to explore something wildly new in the context of an old trope that I dearly love--Oz. Thus, we have the setting of AOZ, its beings, lands, beauty, and terror. Piper Robbin, on the other hand, represents my need to develop a fantasy heroine with a unique spin to her past and psychology. She's youthful and ancient at once, sprightly and stately by turns. She wants a new life in old New York. She wants to try out for parts on Broadway, and work to willfully humble herself. She desires to forget her past, at least temporarily, but fate dictates otherwise. Her father returns from deep space with a homicidal alien on his tail. She must once again assume her old role as Grand Sorceress and once again fight to save the world.
THE LAST ONE TO GO WILL SEE THE FIRST
76,984 GO BEFORE HER!
Do you see Piper Robbin as primary heroine for a series going forward, your Harry Potter or Percy Jackson so to speak?
Yes, and as a matter of fact, I want Piper to be the adult version of Potter, and then some. She and the novel are meant to appeal to an older SFF readership, for the most part (even though some of my best fans are young adults), the kind of reader who grew up with Potter and the Hobbits, Narnia and the like, but who now desires something refreshingly complex, less predictable, and more mature... more thematic, however you wish to put it, and yet, without neglecting to contain an insane cast of characters, dark atmosphere, cool magic, and thriller-like action scenes... the kind of elements we SFF fans love.
The novel's action scenes are mega intense. Did you draw inspiration from SFF films or television?
Absolutely. I drew inspiration from a variety of film and TV sources, everything from Terminator II to Gotham. One scene towards the end might even remind you of old Doctor Who, that is, darkly ridiculous yet effective. Both the novel and film versions of War of the Worlds played a role, plus various space-aliens-attack-California flicks, and good space opera or military SF like The Expanse... And of course, a primary inspiration during the actual period of writing was Emerald City, and not just for energetic scenes, but in terms of dark tone and narrative verve... God how I miss that show. I was shocked when NBC pulled it.
What do you see as the theme of this novel?
The search for true human utopia is a worthy goal and must be pursued whenever and however possible, but in reality, can only be achieved in part, and for a relatively brief interval of time because on a cosmic level, the universe isn't sympathetic... A major form of entropy--in the context of the psycho-social condition--creates circumstances that perpetually erode peace, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in any given human society. Specifically, these erosive circumstances are caused by an established and identifiable set of disruptive human personalities who by means of greed, hubris, and callousness work relentlessly to tear down the world around them in order to force adaptation to their selfish needs. They're like viruses always attacking the human body, causing illness and disease for their own gain. When the smoke clears, ambition and power are far less important to survival than the human virtues of wisdom, courage, and compassion. These virtues are the strongest antidote to the viruses (known as "Deplorables" and "assholes" in the novel).
Would you say a horror element exists in your narrative, perhaps even in your major sex scene?
Interesting question... in the sex scene? If you mean the long sex scene that involves Piper on the methane planet, then no, that is unless you believe heterosexual sex is evil or the existence of it in fiction is horrific by default. However, I'd say that certain scenes contain horrific elements, yes, such as the mass killings on board the New Humanity ships. They're rather grisly.
Who are your literary influences?
My comparables right now are NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman meets OATHBRINGER by Brandon Sanderson, but this paring is rather arbitrary. Overall my influences begin with authors like H. G. Wells and R.E. Howard, phasing to the likes of Ray Bradbury and Joe Haldeman, then soaring madly into the J.K. Rowling and Sanderson era. I can't honestly leave out Frank Baum. How could I? He is the father of Oz. What I don't like are the one-trick ponies of contemporary fantasy we see so much of today, the same type of heroine and love story, again and again, and if I have to read about one more wizard school I'm going ballistic.
Can you give us any spoilers for the next book in the series?
Earth's "left behinds" and old political systems, still existing outside the confines of the Seven City-Worlds of Oz, will demonstrate a dystopian transmogrification which will evolve as the series moves forward. The enemy will use the "left behinds" and their growing hatreds, murderous religions, and seething resentments in order to fashion a guerilla resistance movement.