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    Q&A with Scott Westerfeld

    Posted by Teens Editor, 4 years ago

    Learn more about the sequel to Scott Westerfeld's bestselling Steampunk/Diesel punk fantasy novel, Leviathan with this Q&A.

    1) Tell us a little about the world Leviathan and Behemoth are set in.

    It's World War I, but with a difference. The "Darwinist" powers (England, France and Russia) have learned to create new species of animals that serve as living machines: message lizards, fighting hawks, and living airships. The "Clanker" powers (Germany and Austria) use fantastic machines, like diesel-powered battleships that walk on land. As these two sides clash, our characters travel the world, trying to find the key to peace.

    2) Deryn and Alek are from opposite sides in the war, how does their relationship develop in Behemoth?

    Deryn is getting to know all of Alek's secrets, including that he's secretly the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. He's really started to trust and open up to her, but he doesn't have a clue about her biggest secret--that she's a girl! This puts her in a terrible position. If she spills the beans, will he still like her, or even love her? Or will he run a mile?

    3) What new creatures/mechanical inventions debut in Behemoth?

    The characters go to Istanbul, capital of the Ottoman Empire. Ottomans are Clankers, but they build their machines in the shapes of animals. Mechanical war elephants, scarab beetle taxis, etc. Keith Thompson, my artist, has created a whole new look for Istanbul. On the Darwinist side we see a beastie that allows people to breath underwater, and of course the Behemoth itself, which is a sort of super-kraken, bigger than any battleship. But to say more would be a spoiler.

    4) What’s the historical backdrop for Behemoth?

    In the first months of the war, the Ottoman Empire wasn't sure which side it would join. Both England and Germany tried to convince it to side with them, but the Germans were much smarter about it. This led to the Ottomans joining the Central Powers and making the war last much longer. So I thought, what if my characters were clever enough to swing them the other way? At least it's worth a try.

    5) Where did you come up with the idea to write an alternate history?

    I've always liked this period, both for the crazy technology (three-winged airplanes!) and the somewhat mad politics. But I also wanted to throw in living airships, so I decided that in my world, Charles Darwin discovered DNA and started bioengineering creatures. The British Empire is built on his discoveries, which gives me lots of room for mad science.

    6) Do you consider the books steampunk?

    I suppose so, though diesel-punk would be more technically correct. What I like about steampunk is that it's a way to create collages of lots of different technologies, mixing future with past, and the familiar with the strange.

    7) How many more books in the series?

    There will be three novels, each with 50-60 illustrations, and a fourth book at the end which is large format and all art. This last one will give Keith and I a chance to show the plans and other cool stuff we used to create the world of Leviathan, and it will be in full color!

    8) Any hint as to what might happen in the third book?

    The Leviathan will continue to make it's way around the world, running into new cultures that all each their own twist on the Clanker and Darwinist technologies. Also, more stuff will explode.

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> Read more posts from: October 2010

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