Monday, April 9, 2012

Ed Crandell's Wild, Weird West

Ed Crandell  is the author of the West World trilogy -- a series of novels that combines elements of science fiction, westerns, and steampunk.  He's also one of the most humble writers I've ever met. But don't let his quiet demeanor fool you -- he's churning with talent beneath that unassuming exterior. 

So we were thrilled to have the opportunity to chat with him about his work. 

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

The latest novel I’ve just recently completed is Battle for West World—the third and final novel in my space-western trilogy. Writing it proved a real challenge because the entire novel, excluding prologue and epilogue, is one action scene told in real time, with the chapter “titles” actually being time markers. In other words, if the first chapter was, as an example, called “12:00p.m.”—and the action and dialogue in that chapter adds up to taking four minutes—the next chapter would be entitled “12:04p.m., and so on throughout the entire battle. Once the story begins, there are no time breaks in the story whatsoever. There is never a scene that ends with the next one beginning a few minutes or hours later—every moment of the battle for Endía is described. The pacing of this story is insane—but the results have been well worth the risk. This story ultimately ends with the character arc of the hero—Tom Shallowhorne—being brought to a resounding and dramatic resolution.

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

I tend to come back to the theme of the choices we make and their consequences—whether those are external or internal. Hand and glove with this, in the West World Trilogy, I examine the question of what it is that really makes a hero. Is it what popular culture tells a hero should be? Is it the guy who throws the hardest punch? Who is fastest with a gun? Who takes out all the bad guys with no emotional consequence? Or is being a real hero more than that?

What would be your dream project?

I’ve just finished it! The first spark of West World came in 1985, when I was 15. I started writing it in 1998, more for myself than anyone else, and just now completed it. As you can see, it has taken me several years as a hobbyist writing just to finish three novels.

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

I have no problem with the writing I have done. It would be the “business” end of things that I would do differently. But that's a whole other story...

What inspires you to write?

I basically started writing because I was sick of reading books I didn’t like. I find that writing for yourself is like cooking for yourself—you can put in all the ingredients that you like the best, and the results can be…tasty. And now I have at least three good books to read!

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

I grew up mainly reading a mix of movie novelizations and the classics—Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, and the like. My favorite novel that I’ve read time and again is Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I love the fact that, in that novel, the roles of antagonist and protagonist keep switching back and forth between Victor Frankenstein and the monster. How it influenced me, however, was in the way it presented these far-fetched characters in a very realistic manner. You can really believe that the characters could exist, and I tried to carry that over into my writing.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

Being a hobbyist writer, I don’t know if I am qualified to put my two cents to this. But my gut tells me, “You can’t have one without the other.” Science is art, and art is science.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

Right now, I’m taking a breather from writing. But you can keep up with my newly completed project at www.westworld.mysite.com and my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/edcrandell.westworld. Also, search “Gnomon Chase” on Facebook.