The story of “Addison Howell and the Clockroach” took three perspectives to get to the “complete” picture about what happened in Humptulips during the late 1800s. Why did you choose to present it this way?
Initially, this was a piece for The Thackeray T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities—wherein I was to take an artifact and treat it like a museum piece . . . and museum pieces go through many hands. I liked telling the story of an object through three of the people it affected; it seemed like a tidy (and entertaining) way to go about it.
The separate viewpoints both contradict and confirm each other. How can a narrative benefit by not always following a straight line?
I’m a big fan of leaving a little narrative wiggle room, and in this case, you can choose to believe whichever viewpoint you prefer. They’re all credible, after a fashion, and they all undermine one another just a tiny bit, which I enjoyed.
The power source for the clockroach appears to be lost to time. Do you think anything as significant as clean, alternative energy has slipped through our fingers from that time period?
I rather strongly doubt it. Perhaps it was paranormal, and it’s just as well that the technology is long lost.
Much of your fiction takes place in the Pacific Northwest. What makes this area of the US such a compelling backdrop for you?
I lived there for six years, and I wrote this story while I lived there. I often prefer to write about places where I reside—or at the very least, places I’ve visited extensively. Also, I saw the word “Humptulips” on a map and it gave me the giggles.
What can we expect from you in the future?
More steampunk (most notably, next year’s Fiddlehead from Tor) . . . as well as a return to my gothic roots. I’m back in the southeast, so I predict more than a few ghost stories coming up in the next few years.
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