Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Moment with Kameron Hurley

What was your inspiration for The Stars are Legion?
After I finished writing Rapture, the third book in my God’s War trilogy, in 2012, I came up with this idea for a legion of organic worldships. I wanted to write a book with an epic family intrigue/war/betrayal plot with weird creatures and gooey ickiness, a lot like Melvin Burgess’s book Bloodtide. Bloodtide was based on an old Nordic saga, and I used that as the framework for the first couple of outlines I did. But over time, as with all of my projects, The Stars are Legion became its own thing.

I love world building in books, and your novels have amazing characters and some stunning worlds,  what is your process for world building? Is it organic, you have a story idea and the world fills in around it, or do you have specific things lined out when you start.
I’ll do broad sketches for what I want in my worlds, like magic systems or the underlying conceit of the world. In this one, that’s the idea that these are organic starship systems. The trick is to take that basic premise and extrapolate. So, if your society runs on bug magic, how does that effect everything else? You’d see wasp swarms in the streets. House spider nests welcomed into the kitchens. Cars that spit dead beetles out the back end. Then you look at how these changes affect the people themselves, and their societies. In The Stars are Legion, I took this idea of a starship that was an entire organic world, decaying, where different societies built up their own cultural mores. What happens when your world starts to die and this legion of starships is all you know of the universe?

Where I see a lot of people fall down when they do worldbuilding is to forget that the places and societies we grow up in affect us profoundly. I shouldn’t be able to just drop someone from that world into this one and have them act the same way. Their assumptions and actions are going to be different
based on what they know or believe to be true, and how they are used to interacting with the world.

What are you reading right now? Whats in your stack to read?
Oh, everything. I recently preordered a bunch of books: Spoonbenders, Amberlough, American War, City of Miracles, Borne, All Systems Red, and The Prey of Gods. I also just received just got Atlas, The Fortress at the End of Time and Six Wakes.

I’ve been on a big 80’s murder mystery kick recently as well, and I’ve read 18 of Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series books since Thanksgiving. Also just ordered Indemnity, the first in the VI Warshowski series. I have some plans to dabble in the near future or Weird mystery/thriller genre here at some point, so this type of reading helps. I’m also spending way less time on social media these days, and focused all of that time on reading. It’s been a way better time investment!

Are you a gamer? casual or hardcore? If so, what are you playing when you have time.
I’m a casual gamer by necessity. I have a full-time day job on top of a short story a month and book-a-year novel career. My treat to myself whenever I finish a novel is 30 days of World of Warcraft. I play a lot of Civilization because it’s easy to pick up and put down. I am also playing Obduction right now. I’m a huge fan of the Mass Effect games, and the first Dragon Age game, and I can’t wait for Andromeda (though I don’t get to play until I turn in my next novel, The Broken Heavens, in April).

finally what if anything are you watching? 
Recently finished watching Shut Eye on Hulu, which is about a fortune telling con artist who ends up getting real psychic powers. Lots of blood and Lady Macbeth backstabbing, which was fabulous. Really enjoyed The Detectorists, about metal detectorists in England, and I’m an ongoing fan of Midsomer Murders, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, and Leverage (still 2 seasons to get through on that one. I’m savoring them). I’ve also been watching reruns of The A-Team, which is a show that should probably get rebooted here, considering the current political climate. Netflix provides a lot of shows now that help me de-stress including, of all things, Bob Ross’s painting videos, which will soothe even the most anxious soul.

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