A talk with Author Scott E. Tarbet
Part 1: Shakespeare and Steampunk, Double Reboot
Welcome to the first of my interviews with Author Scott E. Tarbet. A new and rising sensation in steampunk, Scott hails from the volumes of indie book producer Xchyler Publishing. His first novel, A Midsummer Night’s Steampunk, was an instant worldwide sensation. Globally, the book is popular enough to earn Mr. Tarbet a loyal fanbase in the Americas, and almost a cult following in the Middle East and Asia.
Now, Tarbet reboots the reboot, delivering an update well worth his readers’ time. But why all of the fuss to begin with? Clearly, something is special about a gears-and-steam retelling of Shakespeare’s comedy. In this, the first of five author interviews, Scott E. Tarbet helps me understand why his books drew me in, and why I can’t wait to read more.
Ginger: You have a new book out now. Would you tell us about it?
Scott: My editor and I have been mulling a second edition of my first novel, A Midsummer Night’s Steampunk (“AMNS”, Xchyler Publishing, 2013), for some time now. We undertook it as a bit of an interruption/vacation/distraction in the throes of completing my new novel, Dragon Moon. But Xchyler saw an opportunity to strengthen the presentation of the physical product (GORGEOUS new cover!), and I saw an opportunity to fix some of the little cringe-worthy things that 20/20 hindsight shows me in the first edition.
In other words, I’m a better writer now than I was a few years ago, and because I love AMNS, and the characters in it, so deeply, I wanted to give them my best. Not only is the book like a beloved child to me, but the characters in it are like my best friends and my children. I have written two published novelettes that follow them before and after the days told of in AMNS, and there is certainly more to come.
The novel itself is a combination of three things I love dearly: 1. Shakespeare. As you can tell from the title, it is a take-off of one of the landmark comedic plays of all time. 2. History. I am fascinated by the larger-than-life characters of real life history, particularly of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. 3. Steampunk. No movement in recent speculative fiction has so captured my imagination as the fanciful retro-historical Steampunk phenomenon.
Combine all three of these things, and you get a quartet of love-bedazzled, star-crossed, confused lovers, a bunch of the real, pivotal characters in turn-of-the-century European history, and a gaggle of mechanical and semi-mechanical protagonists and antagonists, all in a life-threatening quest to change the course of history.
Ginger: What would you say is the biggest change between versions 1 and 2 of AMNS?
Scott: The biggest change that fans of the book will notice right away is that there is an entirely new first chapter, cementing the relationships among the four young lovers. After all, these people and their relationships are the framework on which Shakespeare’s play, and my novel, both hang. I think the way I wrote the first edition called on my readers to have too much familiarity with the Shakespeare work. My excellent content editor for the second edition, Penny Freeman, pointed out the issue, and helped me find the way to the resolution.
Readers familiar with the first edition will also, I hope, recognize some growth in my writing skill, related to the soliloquy issue I talked about before. Earlier in my writing career, when I wrote the first edition of AMNS, I indulged in too much soliloquy, which required my readers to go along with it. For some of them it wasn’t a problem. But for others, I think it was a distraction and/or a barrier. Readers of the second edition will find that the dialogue is much more organic and natural—less reliant on “preachy” soliloquy.
Ginger: Have you removed any scenes from the original book? Was that necessary?
Scott: Nope. All the original scenes are still there. I believe they are more tightly crafted than they were in the first edition–some of them in big ways, some in small–but they’re all still there.
Ginger: The first edition was tightly coupled with Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Is the second edition bound in the same way, or have you diverged a little?
The second edition is still tightly coupled to the original material in plot and character outline. The most notable diversion—if you can even call it that—is a new opening chapter that provides a little more anchoring for the key friendships and romantic triangle that are at the heart of the play. Shakespeare, in his use of the dramatic form (versus my novel form), has the advantage of requiring that we just assume the backstory of these relationships. In the novel I have the luxury of spending a few words exploring the highlights of that backstory.
Keep up with Ginger’s Notes (http://www.songofmann.com). More exclusive interviews with Scott E. Tarbet are coming all week long!
Next: Scott E. Tarbet introduces his favorite character in the new A Midsummer Night’s Steampunk
Scott E. Tarbet will appear at Marissa’s Gifts and Books on Friday, October 9th
Have you been dying to meet a rising star in steampunk? Utah fans, here’s your chance.
Marissa’s Gifts & Books, a charming local independent bookstore, is hosting a signing of the new second edition of A Midsummer Night’s Steampunk, featuring the heroic Pauline on a gorgeous new cover, Friday, October 9th, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. Author Scott Tarbet will sign tonight.
Located at 5664 S 900 E, Ste 8, Murray, UT 84121, Marissa’s is your home for hard to find vintage and collectable books, as well as new titles from local authors.
Already own a first edition copy of AMNS?
Bring it by, and get the second edition, autographed, for only $10. That goes for Kindle copies of the first edition, too.
Come in Steampunk costume, and get $2 off your copy of the second edition.