Welcome to Part Two of Calico In Conversation with J.L. Gribble. If you missed Part One: Boosting Confidence, feel free to click here to catch up!
Editor’s Note: this interview was originally conducted in March through June of 2016.
Let’s move on to influences: as writers, we all have them. What do you think influences your writing the most?
There’s never a simple answer to that question! I draw my inspiration from the other media I consume (books, television, movies, graphic novels, role-playing games, etc.), courses I’ve taken in school, and the people I meet around me. But that’s a pretty cliche answer in and of itself, so instead I’ll talk more about the challenges I’ve set for myself in my writing.
My favorite take on the concept of immortality is that presented in the television show Highlander: The Series, where even people who live forever are still people. I wanted to write about paranormal monsters who are also still people first. In addition, my debut novel, the thesis I wrote for graduate school, started out as a reaction to the Twilight craze. I wanted to write about a vampire who can be a romantic creature, but whose story wasn’t necessarily a romance. Thus, the character of Victory, a vampire in a mature, adult relationship, was born. But characters don’t exist in a vacuum, so I gave her a family, friends, and a career. The conflict of the novel was born from taking all of those things away, one by one.
The rest of the Steel Empires series continues along the vein, with other challenges that I decided to set for myself. Steel Magic could be considered a coming of age story for Victory’s daughter, inspired by a class I took in college on the female coming-of-age novel. Book 3, Steel Blood, was deliberately structured around the scenes set by William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. And book 4 is going to be a time travel book…because I freaking love time travel stories.
Interesting…. It’s funny, because you’re reminding me of a Tor.com post written by Alex Bledsoe regarding his Eddie LaCrosse series, wherein each book of the series was written in response to a particular THING the author was inspired by or wanted to explore. I can’t begin to explain HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS APPROACH. While I haven’t read Bledsoe’s series (and I’ve only read your first book), I imagine it gives each book a unique approach, despite the characters and the world tying it together into one series. Thoughts?