We sat down to chat with writer Scott Westerfeld, writer of the Uglies series, about the upcoming Leviathan movie, and to pick his brain about Steampunk, and bringing the future into the past. He even showed us a photo he had taken of a couple he'd met earlier, in full steampunk glory (we found them later and took our own picture, how cool!). We even got a sneak peek of the new Uglies Manga (photo included). Check it all out below!
W: The question posed at the end of the Leviathan trailer: "Do you oil your war machines or do you feed them?" cuts to the heart of the two opposing viewpoints in the book. Can you talk about your inspirations for the Darwinists and the Clankers creatively speaking?
SW: I was a philosophy major in College, and took a really cool course called the Philosophy of Biology. That really kick started my love of biology and evolution and that type of thing. I had a girlfriend who was an immunologist and she had lots of cool Biologist friends, and listening to them talk made want to write biology books. Of course Peeps is about biology. So when I started to construct the world of Laviathan, I just thought it would be cool to have a biological aspect to Steampunkieness. And just as regular steam punk takes computers and science and those things and takes them into the past and makes them more advanced than they were then, but still to have that old timey feel, I thought it would be cool to do the same thing with Biology.
W: One of your readers posted on your website that "the time in the books are like the future, in the past.." is that what you strive for when writing?
SW: Yea, I mean I think the future is something that changes every few years. The way we see what the future will be, is always changing. In the 50s the dominate science of the future was rockets. It was all about rockets and going to other planets, now it's all about information sciences. More than 100 years ago it was steam. We tend to only focus on only one type of technology, whatever is big at that time.
W: At what point in the writing process did you begin to collaborate with illustrator Keith Thompson? How much direction did you give him for the WWI Steampunk visuals
SW: I had written 8 chapters I think, and then I put it aside for a while to focus on other things. When I came back to it I realized something was missing. I started to do more research on books of the time, and how they felt. That's when I realized that books back then always had illustrations, especially ones for kids. I really wanted to do something that looked like a book from that period. So that's when I went in search of Steampunk artists, and actually Googled it, and found Keith. He wasn't on the first page, so kids when you're searching go past the first page (though he probably is on the first page now). I usually send him 3-4 chapters at a time, so he gets the chapters in a first draft form. I never give him any direction at the beginning, I wait for him to respond first. Then we have some emails back and forth. He's a better engineer than I am, so he sees whatever it is in his head before he draws it. He knows how big it has to be for four people to fit inside. After he's drawn it, I'll ask him questions about the parts and how they work, and then rewrite in order to help him. So I'm influencing what he's drawing, but he's also influencing what I'm writing.
W: So when does your third book Goliath debut? Will there be another volume? Have you detirmend how many will be in the series?
SW: It comes out September 20th, and there will only be three novels in the series, but there is going to be a 4th book which will be an art book and come out next August. We have done lots of art that didn't make it into the books. There are deck plans for Leviathan, cut aways from the Storm Walker, and they're all in color and were great for planning the world. It will be large format, color, not a lot of text, just something to be special for the fans. It will probably be called "The Manual of Aeronautics" which is the book Darren carries around, so it will be THAT book.