Q & A with the amazing Mr. Kenneth Oppel!
August 14, 2012 | Alice | Comments (0)
So you guys. I got to ask Kenneth Oppel some questions about this series that has me so fascinated!
And here's what he had to say...
While This Dark Endeavour occurs in the real world, much of Such Wicked Intent happens in another realm. (I'm trying not to give it away here, readers!) How different is it to write a setting that has no solid boundaries or reference point, and do you see the third book coming back to this world, or perhaps exploring another place or reality again?
It’s very challenging to write any kind of “other world” since so much invention is required – and also a kind of logic has to be established. There have to be rules, sources of power, limitations, so the reader can understand what is and is not possible in this new world. And you have to be consistent, or it’s just confusing for the reader. In its own way, the other world has to be as concrete as the physical world.
In Firewing, the third book in my Silverwing trilogy, I wrote about the bat Underworld, and found it very challenging. You want to come up with something original and awe-inspiring . In Such Wicked Intent, Victor find a way of entering the Spirit World, a kind of land of the dead within the Chateau Frankenstein. I liked the idea of a mirror world, so similar to our world in some ways, and yet so different. It’s both invigorating and frightening, seductive and deadly. The inspiration for taking Victor into the Spirit World came from Mary Shelley’s original Frankenstein, in which Victor talks about how, as a youth, he became very interested in trying to raise ghosts and demons. I’m just using this as a springboard!
You clearly did lots of reading on the original Frankenstein story and its author, Mary Shelley. The books are full of references to her book and her life, as well as her contemporaries. As an author, do you expect your teen audience will pick up on those, or do you write those in for the sheer fun of it?
It was tremendous fun to learn about the real Mary Shelley and her sources for Frankenstein. I’m sure plenty of my readers will pick up on all the references to the real Mary Shelley and the fascinating and tragedy-filled life she led. From my point of view, all this material was source material for me. I used Mary Shelley’s family as a basis for Victor’s – and stole characteristics from her husband (Percy Shelley) and friend Lord Byron to build Victor’s personality and backstory. When you’re reimagining a literary classic, you want to preserve the tone of the original, and this was one way I could do it.
I liked the balance you struck with making Victor who he is and how we see him developing into the character he is famous for being: while he has an essential character flaw, it is only combined with circumstances that he truly becomes monstrous. Do you think this combination bears out for how other fictional “monsters” came to be, as well?
The creation of a monster usually involves a pre-existing flaw or vulnerability being acted upon by some external force. It’s like a stone with a little crack which is broken apart by a chisel’s blow. The great thing about this is that everyone has cracks in their character – and even though everyone reacts differently to adversity, every reader can empathize with a character who suffers, or is tempted, or who fails. It’s part of human nature. And this is one of the great things about the Frankenstein myth. It’s not about some one-dimensional monster or supervillain who’s evil just for the sake of it – it’s about how a man is driven to monstrous deeds through ambition, and arrogance and cowardice. So, yes, Frankenstein involves monsters, but the real monster is always human, and it’s always us.
Is there a third book in the works? You dropped a strong hint at the end of the second book about a certain natural force that he might experiment with that plays prominently in the familiar Frankenstein story we all know.
There might be a third book in the works… I think we all know the effect a lightning strike would have on a fellow like Victor Frankenstein…
Yes, I know I have coyly made reference to book two, Such Wicked Intent, more than once now. And I'll be telling you more about it tomorrow, promise!