Today I interviewed Steven Harper. Steven is the author of Unfair, a middle grade book I read and reviewed not so long ago. We talk escaping from a desert island, witches and Octavia Butler.
What inspired you to write Unfair?
My son Aran is autistic, and I wanted to write a book for him. He was eleven–Ryan’s age–when I started the novel, but what with one thing and another, I didn’t actually finish until Aran was 18!
Which one of your characters would you like to be for the day, why and what would you spend the day doing?
Ooooo. Probably Gavin Ennock from my Clockwork Empire steampunk series. Gavin invents a set of wings and learns to fly. He’s also a much better musician than I am. So I’d spend the day playing fiddle and flying over mountaintops–though not at the same time.
What was your favorite book as a child?
That would depend on when you asked me. I read HALF MAGIC by Edward Eager many times. It always seemed like such fun to get as many wishes as you wanted instead of just three! But there was also GREEK MYTHOLOGY by the D’Aulaires. They introduced me to all mythology, an addiction from which I’ve never recovered.
What characters (of any book by any author) would you like to have a dinner party with and why?
Terry Pratchett’s Lancre witches–Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick–would be favorite, I think. We’d have a lot to discuss about solving the problems of the world!
You are stranded on a desert island with a character from one of your favorite books, who is it and what is the first thing you do together?
The glib answer is someone like Superman or Granny Weatherwax, since they can fly and get us off the island. But if I had to spend a lot of time alone with one fictional character, Nanny Ogg would at least be entertaining and probably not be overly bothered by our situation!
Would you rather have a witch or a wizard as a best friend?
Oh! Speaking of! A witch, I think. Witches tend toward practicality, even if they are stubborn, and the magic is more subtle.
What author would you like to go in a submarine with?
Octavia Butler is my favorite author (as an adult), so she’d be at the top of my list. I was crushed when she passed away so young. So many great books unwritten! Shakespeare would also be a good choice, if he could get past being in a submarine, because I have a number of questions about his personal life.
Merlin has come along and changed you into a cat, you have to find the antidote, what is it and who has it?
We always seem to circle around to the witches, don’t we? Nanny is experienced with cats who change form–her psyco kitty Greebo knows how to become human already–so her antidote would be to teach me the same trick.
Would you rather have a dogs tail or cats ears?
Cat’s ears. Then I could eavesdrop on my students better.
When writing your books how do you decide the personalities of your characters and do you ever base them on people you know?
Most of my protagonists arrive in my head fully formed, like Athena springing out of Zeus’s skull. This tells me that my subconscious is a better writer than I am. I tweak, though. I’m fond of contradictions, though. the protagonist of my first novel IN THE COMPANY OF MIND was fantastically good-looking but cripplingly shy. Aisa in the Books of Blood and Iron was a slave girl with a sarcastic, snarky tongue. Gavin and Alice have a May/December relationship, but Gavin, the guy, is the younger one. I got fan mail after those books came out from several people who said their grandparents and great-grandparents (from Gavin and Alice’s era) were in a similar situation, with a much younger man and a much older woman!
Who would play you in the movie of your life and why?
Oh heavens. I have no idea. I wouldn’t be able to handle going to watch it!
What book do you wish you had written?
WILD SEED, by Octavia Butler. If you haven’t read it, go get it now!
Who’s your favorite author and why?
The aforementioned Octavia Butler. She writes what I call “dwarf star books,” which are very dense. They also pound you flat. You can’t stop reading them, though. Her stories are absolutely compelling and take no prisoners.
Where can fans find you online?
My web site is http://www.stevenpiziks.com . I’m on Twitter as @stevenpiziks , and you can find me on Facebook as Steven Piziks or Steven Harper Piziks!