Name George Wright Padgett
Age Born in 1967
Where are you from?
A little about yourself `ie your education Family life etc.
I’m a husband (25+ years) and father of two children (16 year old girl/13 year old boy) a jazz piano player, a graphic artist, and playwright.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My steampunk detective novel entitled Addleton Heights was released on December 13th by a small press publisher known as Grey Gecko Press.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Looking back through the years, I realize that I’ve always enjoyed telling stories. Only recently did I realize that I’ve unofficially been writing my entire life though it took the form of puppet shows, homemade comic books, and wacky stories that I’d tell my family on long road trips.
When my daughter was four, she and I would make up bedtime stories. I noticed that the tall tales we were making up were better than some we bought from the bookstore. I decided to try my hand at writing children’s stories and joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for a brief period. When I won the Joan Lowery Nixon award for a children’s book entitled Don’t Wake Esmeralda! in 2006, I thought there may be a future in writing for me.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
After my kids outgrew picture books, I found my voice in speculative fiction. For obvious reasons, I was able to delve into darker themes and more sophisticated concepts, but I still believe a good story is a good tale at its core for any age. When I released my second novel back in 2014 I realized this writing thing wasn’t a fluke—it’s a component of who I am.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Many writers that I know have the same compulsion that I suffer from: the only way to stop the story from rattling around in your head is commit it to the page and then ultimately to publish it sealing it up forever. Although there seems to be another one always waiting in the wings after it.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
My publisher has tagged me with the term multi-generalist, which is a more succinct way of stating that I write hard sci-fi, horror, and steampunk. Part of the reason there’s so much genre hopping in my work is that I often reverse engineer my books and let the story dictate the best setting to tell the story. I start with a question or theme I want to explore and then work my way backward filling in the holes until the logic for why things are happening is sound.
For example, in Spindown, I wanted to look at what makes us human – are we born to become who we are to become or merely the byproducts of experiences, or a mix of both? In order to examine this idea I needed characters devoid of any emotional experiences, yet be full grown adults. I wanted characters that were ‘blank canvases’ that I could expose to extreme situations and observe their reactions. The solution was a group of clones that were severely isolated from one another. Then the question becomes why would they be that way? So by reverse engineering I determined that these imaginary people worked in space on an ore mine on a moon of Jupiter and that it must be a corporation using clone labor to reduce costs. I keep backing up the ‘camera’ until the questions are answered and backstory is solid. Once that’s done I can begin the journey.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title Addleton Heights?
The title of my latest work, Addleton Heights is derived from the name of the fictional city itself. The steampunk genre allows and possibly even expects alternate history in the genre. The city of Addleton Heights once was the island of Nantucket until a hurricane destroyed it in the 1800s. The city was rebuilt on stilts lifting the platform six hundred feet in the air to safeguard that from ever happening again.
At the time the story takes place in 1901 the people below the platform are becoming restless towards those whom they serve up top. How could the book be called anything but the name of this city?
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Accepting change in a person’s life allows for personal growth is one of the major themes of Addleton Heights. As I mentioned, all of my novels have concepts for readers to consider and contemplate, but my job as an author is to present ideas in such a way that there’s a sense of adventure and excitement.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I write stories that involve a high level of escapism for readers, so generally what happens on the page is complete fiction. The characters are another situation entirely; I am fascinated by many aspects of human nature. All of my characters are composites formed of various people that I’ve encountered.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Too many stories to list here, but I will admit to being a big fan of the classics
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Carrie Patel is a new author with Angry Robot known for “The Buried Life” and “Cities and Thrones.” Her novels are kind of an Agatha Christie Regency-era steampunk. Great stuff – Check them out.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I have a small group (five) of beta readers that has been a source of encouragement since 2011 nicknamed Team Armageddon. Then there’s my publisher, Grey Gecko Press. The team there has been wonderful in encouraging me to try different things.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
There might come a day that I write full time, but for now I enjoy the flexibility of working because I want to not because I have to. This ensures that the novels I write are driven from the desire to spin a good tale instead of simply trying to make this month’s mortgage payment.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I’m extremely pleased with how it turned out. I owe much of that to having a great editor and a fantastic team of beta readers. I turned in the manuscript last January and the staff at Grey Gecko Press tweaked it with me for nine months to ensure the best possible reader experience.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
From an early age I’ve always enjoyed good stories. The logical progression was to tell some of my own
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here’s link to read the first chapter of Addleton Heights: http://www.georgewpadgett.com/addleton-heights-ch1_04857
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Given the genres that I write in there’s a lot of time spent in the world building phase creating the story environment. While it’s helpful for the author to know all of the minutiae in the system they’ve fashioned, it can bog down the story for the reader. It can be tempting to showcase all of the efforts spent researching a topic or highlighting a city system, but in the end if it doesn’t advance the story or contribute to developing characters it should be cut. I often find myself walking the tightrope of how much to share vs. how much to leave out.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No, gratefully the internet and local libraries allow me to do the research I need for stories, so the only travel I do is for local speaking engagements at area conventions and book signings.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I discovered a fantastic Italian artist by the name of Michele Giorgi (http://michelegiorgiillustrator.com). I have a commercial graphic art degree and have done my covers in the past, but Addleton Heights was different. This novel is solidly situated in the steampunk genre, so I wanted a classic romantic image with all the flourishes. While I do plenty of layout and design, I’m no illustrator; it’s an entirely different discipline, so I sought out someone with those skills.
I came across Michele’s art on the internet when I was a third of the way through the first draft and fell in love with his style. He hadn’t had any book cover commissions at that point, but I took a chance and contacted him in the hopes that he’d try something different. I emailed him with highlighted samples of his work which struck the tone I was looking for.
Many of the Steampunk images I’d come across to that point were often dark and grimy. I love those murky atmospheres, but wanted to go a completely different direction in an effort to make the book stand out. The end result is an image of bright sunshiny day in January with the snow gently falling to the ground. It’s wonderful contrast to many scenes contained within.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
A large component steampunk stories is their connection to history/alternate history, so I spent time studying about the area’s whaling oil industry losing out to Pennsylvania coal as a source of energy, the use of immigrants for the transcontinental railroad, Queen Victoria’s death later in the month the story takes place, the Boxer Revolution in China, etc.
Weapons play an important part of the story, so I spent time with weapons expert Drew Heyen to make sure everything was authentic.
The challenge for me is to know how much of this peripheral information to put on the page. Ideally you want enough history in the book to satisfy the cravings of those that are looking for it, but not too much as to bog down the story for those that have come to it looking for a mystery-action experience.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
From a storytelling perspective I learned a lot. Though this is my third novel, it’s the first detective story that I’ve written. For a mystery to work well, the author must present all of the clues (and red herrings) through the course of the story without making it obvious as to what happened. If the reader figures out the case too soon they can become frustrated in wanting the detective to hurry and catch up to them. Likewise, if the mystery is too complex the reader can get lost and be confused which is another type of frustration. So it’s a tightrope balancing act to deliver the elements of the crime/scenario at the precise moment that the reader is figuring things out on their own. I admit it’s a bit of a magic trick, but when it’s done well it leaves the reader feeling smarter and as if they’ve accomplished something alongside the detective.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
The problem with sharing this type of thing with a reader is that it’s unlikely that we visualize the same exact ‘players’. If I envision John Cusack in a character role, but you imagine Ryan Gosling for the same part, then I reveal who I’ve chosen in the role, does it reduce or nullify your experience? As with painting, what’s on the canvas is a conversation between the artist and the person witnessing it. The veiwer’s interpretation is neither ‘right’ nor ‘wrong’, but in the same vein, the creator of the art shouldn’t have exclusive say once the paint has dried. In that same spirit, I’ll let the readers keep who they’ve cast.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
I’ve always liked Vonnegut’s quote about making sure a writer supplies something worthwhile to the audience: “Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.”
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
A big THANK YOU for reading. Also, be sure to post reviews. A review on a blog, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. is the single best thing you can ‘give’ to your favorite authors – and be sure to tell your friends when you come across a story that really moves you.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m taking a couple weeks off from reading fiction to read Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography ‘Born to Run’. I’m pleased to report that he’s actually a pretty good writer.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Yes- ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak. I was five or six. I’ve patterned much of my behavior and way I relate to the world after Max.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I love to laugh and do it several times a day.
I’m such a sap – I cry at everything. A good performance on The Voice, Television commercials, movies, orchestra concerts-everything. I don’t fight it down, I feel a ‘Happy Cry’ is a good thing and it refreshes the soul.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I’m going to cheat here and name more than one:
For my writing endeavors, I’d like to hang out with Charles Dickens. Can you imagine being behind stage in 1870 as he reads his comic and tragic extracts in a packed theater house?
Because music is such a big part of my life, I’d also like to pal around with The Beatles in their early period (before the nasty infighting began). I’d like to be in the corner of the studio as they were redefining what pop music was and could be.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
“He achieved what he wanted and celebrated it with others daily.” Life and the talents we’re given are a gift. Find a way to connect and invest yourself into those around you to help lighten their load. Don’t let fear stop you from achieving what you want to do.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I play piano in a jazz trio, do graphic design, and sometimes paint when the mood strikes.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Anything and everything Sci-Fi. I recently saw Denis Villeneuve’s “Arrival” and was blown away. It deals with a linguist who’s recruited by the military to translate alien communications.
It was refreshing to see an intellectual movie be given the big Hollywood treatment for a change.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Food: Anything my wife prepares (she’s a fantastic cook)
Music: Nearly everything – Depends on the mood
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I love music; in fact I’m currently writing a musical for the stage, and enjoying that process very much. I could see a future in doing that.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I’m online at:
Website – http://georgewpadgett.com
Facebook – www.facebook.com/Author.GWP
Grey Gecko Press (Publisher) – http://store.greygeckopress.com/collections/george-wright-padgett
Many thanks for allowing me the opportunity to share about the craft of writing and my new book Addleton Heights. https://www.amazon.com/George-Wright-Padgett/e/B0080IA2KW/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1