Please join us in welcoming author Félix J. Palma here today to Dark Faerie Tales. His time travel/steampunk novel, The Map of Time, is available now. You can read an excerpt from the book here. The sequel, The Map of the Sky, will be released on September 4, 2012. You can read an excerpt from this novel here. We are also featuring this title in our Steampunk Reading Challenge 2012.
Félix J. Palma (Spain, 1968) has been recognized by the critics as one of today’s most brilliant and original writers and has been awarded with many literary awards. In his first volume of stories, El vigilante de la salamandra (The Lizard’s keeper, 1998) stood out his ability to introduce fantasy into the every day -one of the main traits of his narrative. He is also author of the storybooks: Métodos de supervivencia (Methods of Survival, 1999), Las interioridades (Interiors, 2002), Los arácnidos (The Arachnids, Cádiz Latin American Story Award, 2003), and El menor espectáculo del mundo (The World’s Smallest Show, 2010). As a novelist he has published La hormiga que quiso ser astronauta (The Ant that wanted to become an Astronaut, 2001), Las corrientes oceánicas (The Ocean Currents, winner of the 2005 Luis Berenguer Award for Novel), and El mapa del tiempo (The Map of Time, winner of the Ateneo de Sevilla Award 2008). His work has been translated into more than 25 languages. He has also worked as a columnist, literary critic and has given creative writing workshops.
DFT: What do you find so fascinating about steampunk?
Félix: I guess you could say it’s more of an aesthetic fascination: I love the machines and gadgets that came out of steam technology, which people in the Victorian age believed capable of transforming the world in their likeness. And I’m also interested in the presence of magic and the occult during that era.
DFT: Do you do a lot of research?
Félix: Yes, the novel required me to do intensive research, not only about the nineteenth century but also about the real people who lived during that time, and especially about H. G. Wells. I also had to research how the theory of time travel has been treated in fiction as well as on screen, because I wanted my novel to explore the many ways man conceived of time travel.
DFT: Why did you choose H.G.Wells as your main character?
Félix: Wells is one of my favorite authors, and while re-reading one of his novels, The Time Machine, which I loved as a child, I asked myself how readers of his era must have felt, given that they were living in a time when science had advanced so far as to make a thing such as time travel seem possible. “Traveling into the future? Moving beyond our mortal existence?” they must have asked themselves. And I could picture them closing the book with the conviction that inventors would soon find a way to make that invention, as Wells had envisioned it, a reality. I imagined them thinking that, why, in just a few months’ time they would find themselves able to travel through time in a steam-powered machine. And I imagined even Wells himself wondering how long it would be before he found himself standing outside a travel agency that was booking trips into the future. It was such a powerful image that I used it as the inspiration for my novel. When I’d finished, another equally-powerful image occurred to me: A police officer headed to Wells’ home because, just outside London, an object from Mars had dropped to the Earth just as it had in another one of Wells’ novels, The War of the Worlds. And that was the starting point for my next book, The Map of Time, which will be published in the United States this fall. That’s how I decided to make Wells into my own personal Sherlock Holmes, asking him to live through various adventures related to his own works.
DFT: Is it easier writing about fictional characters or real ones?
Félix: I think they’re both hard. I have to invent the fictional ones from scratch and try to ensure that they both seem real and interesting to the reader. I have to infuse the real ones with a soul, all the while respecting how they actually were.
DFT: What do you like best about the possibilities of steampunk?
Félix: It’s a subgenre with many possibilities. What I like most is the possibility of playing with the naïve credulity of the Victorians, who could believe in the scientific advance as much as in the magical. That’s why there was such a prevalence of spiritualism and secret societies. It was a world of contrasts, and, moreover, a time of adventure, as the world was still unknown, not fully explored, and man’s fantasies could run free. Victorians could believe that there was a civilization living at the center of the earth or that the moon was inhabited, and science could not yet prove to them that they were wrong.
DFT: What is the one question about your book you would really like to be asked?
Félix: I’d like to be asked what I think of the screen adaptations of my books—because that would mean they have been made into movies.
DFT: Would you like to live in an era such as the Victorian age?
Félix: Truthfully, no. I like my creature comforts, and I like to live in society as it is. If it were possible to travel through time, I would always prefer to travel into the future—although there are many interesting times in history, such as the Victorian era. But the future stands for the impossible, it is imagination. I think that’s why I like to read science fiction, to peek into worlds that my human mortality will not allow me to know.
DFT: Who has inspired you? Classics like Oscar Wilde or Stevenson?
Félix: Yes, and also the likes of Wells, Dumas, Stoker and Verne. Honestly, with my novel, I wanted to pay homage to all of those writers, who wrote literature that was both popular and erudite enough for the educated reader. To all of those authors who created great myths which endure today: Frankenstein, Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, Jekyll and Hyde…
DFT: What can you tell us about your future books?
Félix: In Spain I’ve just published The Map of Time, and shortly I will begin writing the last book in the trilogy. At this point, I can say that it centers around another of Wells’ best-known books, The Invisible Man, that it will focus on the world of spiritualism and that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle will play a major role in the book.
DFT: Is it difficult to imagine all the wonderful machines etc. and take them into such a purist era?
Félix: No, it wasn’t hard for me. Rather, it was enjoyable because I liked the contrast between the fantasy that inspired each invention against the backdrop of the straight-laced lifestyle that traditional society demanded. I think, paradoxically, Victorian puritanism stimulated Victorian man’s yearning to dream. Never was the hunger for adventure greater, since he lived inhibited, trapped within a rigid society’s norms.
Available September 4, 2012 from Atria Books/Simon & Schuster
About this Book:
The New York Times bestselling author of The Map of Time returns with a mesmerizing novel casting H.G. Wells in a leading role, as the extraterrestrial invasion featured in The War of the Worlds is turned into a bizarre reality.
A love story serves as backdrop for The Map of the Sky when New York socialite Emma Harlow agrees to marry millionaire Montgomery Gilmore, but only if he accepts her audacious challenge: to reproduce the extraterrestrial invasion featured in Wells’s War of the Worlds. What follows are three brilliantly interconnected plots to create a breathtaking tale of time travel and mystery, replete with cameos by a young Edgar Allan Poe, and Captain Shackleton and Charles Winslow from The Map of Time.
Click HERE to read an excerpt
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