Please welcome the extremely talented, Alex White!
M: Your world is a blend of magic and cogs. Alchemy of sorts. Can you share a bit with those new to your world?
AW: I feel my tagline, “Magic and Intrigue in a Noir World” sums up the setting pretty well. Certainly, there is some steampunk influence, but the Gearheart draws far more inspiration from the exploits of the OSS and detective novels. The stories are written from an adventurous perspective, with occasional solemn moments, designed to appeal to readers who enjoy a large ensemble of characters.
M: How did you come to this combination?
AW: Years of failure brought me here. The Gearheart was originally called “The Clockwork Girl,” and was written as a comedy back in 1999. Then, it was a Shockwave video game. Then it was a comic. Then, I abandoned all of the characters, except in namesake, and wrote the feature length screenplay. Eventually, I started writing novels, and the idea was still stuck in my head. That’s when I changed the title and called it The Gearheart. It was the first time I’d seen the story in a form that I liked.
M: The Seekers are a special group. Each Seeker has a particular magic ability. How does one become an agent of the Seekers? Do they find people, or do the people got to them?
AW: It’s not covered in the podcast, but here’s the scoop on that: everyone has magic inside them, but not everyone is in touch with that part of themselves. People who can be taught to be wizards are called “latent magi.” All latent magi throw off a tiny amount of arcane energy as they move through the world, and it often manifests as extreme luckiness... or unluckiness. There are special Seekers called “Magefinders” who track these latent magi through the world until the day the Seekers can recruit them.
Non-magical individuals are called “Adjuncts,” and they have exceptional knowledge in their field that makes them valuable to the organization. Either way, all Seekers are elites who take pride in the fact that they were recruited.
M: This could be interesting to read about in this world you've created, if you put it into a story.
M: Let’s start with Cog. She is a unique and amazing creation. She is rather…aged. I’m going to share a picture of her here, but can you describe her in spoiler-free terms? I don’t know if I could.
AW: Cog was once Elena Antonello, the human daughter of the great alchemist Jacopo Antonello. In his quest to kill his rival, King Audun Slade, Jacopo turned his daughter into a humanoid machine, subverting her will to make her a tool of war. Elena broke free from Jacopo’s binding spell and rebelled. For her insolence, Jacopo buried her in a vault for over 700 years. She was later discovered by Jonathan Andrews, and agreed to help the Seekers deal with her modern-day ancestors.
M: I have to say, I love this whole atmosphere with Cog. Amazing character here!
M: Jonathan is of special lineage as well. Did he know of the weight his family has carried?
AW: Absolutely. Jonathan was raised by his uncle, Dr. Milton Andrews, a famous archaeologist and history fanatic. Milton has long enjoyed the fact that his nephew is a direct descendent of Audun Slade “The Commoner King.” The professor has taken great pains to educate his nephew about all things Antonello and Slade, so Jonathan is fully aware of his roots. However, he never knew about the curse.
M: And again. The heritage here and history...wow.
M: There seems to be more at the inner workings to the Seekers. In every great system there can be corruption?
AW: Absolutely. I like to think of the Seekers in much the same way as any intelligence service. It’s not good or bad—it’s all of those things and more. The Seekers were chartered under a higher calling—to bring equality to the world of magic and create a better tomorrow. Of course, controlling most of the magic on the planet creates unparalleled opportunities for corruption and exploitation.
M: You have a new Seeker story out in podcasting form. (Thank you! I have wanted more of the Seekers.) This is a different crew and shorter story? Can you share briefly on it?
AW: Bridget “Lucky” Forscythe was a proud member of the October Squadron, a band of Seekers dedicated to exploring the most dangerous territories in the world, including Point Seven—a mysterious ruin in the uninhabited arctic wilderness. When a cadre of Seeker assassins arrive to seize Point Seven and put an end to the Octobers, Lucky is forced into the unexplored depths. What is Point Seven, and will Lucky survive?
M: I have to mention, you character photos. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Really. (They are the images you see through the interview.) They were what caught my eye and had me try your story The Gearheart: Artifice. And after listening to episode one, I was hooked. You do this yourself with friends?
AW: Indeed. I would say that each photo requires a crew of around five to ten folks, and I’ve shot dozens of them. At first, they were more about the emotion than anything else, but I eventually became more adept at creating the action you might expect to see in a movie. Of course, that’s just in one still frame.
M: I think you mentioned at Balticon 2012, you were a kid actor? Has this helped you with your voice for podcasting?
AW: I was never a child actor, though I used to do commercials when I was in college. I still use my voice professionally for corporate documentaries and such. My degree is in broadcasting, and I’ve taken a few voice courses.
M: Podcasting. This is a great deal of work to put the story into podcast form. You write the story. You cast voices like a movie? Then put all the recordings together to make a seamless finished product with sound effects? Now I phrased this in rough terms, but it takes lots of time to create us this amazing end product.
AW: The most time consuming thing is the writing, which is how I truly define my work. I like to podcast, but I care deeply about the craft of story. I’m fortunate to have a large pool of talented friends who can lend their voices to the cause, and my wonderful wife is just amazing to me. Each episode takes around 40 hours, all said and done, which is why the stories come out so rarely. I have a massive backlog of written fiction, including another completed Gearheart novel, so I’m definitely still producing work. However, given the incredible effort that goes into podcasting, I’ve chosen to take a break and work on my writing career.
M: You create your own music!?
AW: I do! I create everything in Ableton Live, and I’m pretty particular about working from scratch. In the original podcast, you can hear several interludes from Apple Soundtrack Pro, but as soon as I learned Ableton, I quit using loops. As a result of the compositions I’ve made over the years for The Gearheart, I’ve begun to compose professionally in my day job. I have little formal training, and certainly none that I remember any useful bits from. Over the past five years, I’ve pieced together a bit of theory and a lot of technology. It’s important to me that the music match the setting exactly, and composition allows me to do just that.
M: Wholy Talented, Alex! Writing, Imagery, and Music. Dang.
M: Okay, one last tough question. I know you talked about this at Balticon as well. But, what genre do you feel your story classifies as? There is a blend here, but one feels stronger to me as well.
AW: When I pitch to agents, I tell them it’s an urban fantasy set in a 1920’s noir. That’s technically the most accurate, if we were being strict about things. The truth is that it has elements of spy thriller, noir, steampunk, action, literary fiction, urban fantasy and drama. I’ve heard others call it genre-bending, which makes me happy. It also makes it a little hard to sell.
M: I’ve tortured you enough with. Time for some fun questions for you.
M: One question I ask all visitors their first time by…If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
AW: I would probably go to Japan, though a big part of me wants to see Monaco. I don’t gamble, but I would just about die to watch an F1 race from the comfort of a pleasure boat.
M: Tea or Coffee?
AW: “And now, settle in, pour a cup of tea and enjoy...” said the coffee drinker. I love creamy, sugary coffee, pitch black espressos, and nothing in between.
M: I've heard that line so many times going into your podcasts. And you're a coffee drinker! LOL! Awesome!
M: Favorite Color?
AW: That’s totally unfair to ask a designer! To wear? For interfaces? I’ll go with fashion for the sake of readership. As a big fellow, I look best in earth tones, deep red and olive drab. Blue elements work well with my eyes, so coffee + light cerulean is an excellent combo for me.
M: Favorite Childhood Fictional Creature?
AW: Mystique, from X-men. What? She’s not technically human!
M: Now, as an adult, what’s your Favorite Fictional Creature?
AW: Ghosts, I guess. I think I like most fictional creatures, except the woodsy ones. They kind of annoy me.
M: Favorite word? (any word at all)
AW: Sesquipedalian- It means, “Given to using long words, or having many syllables.” It has negative connotations, and I think it’s the funniest word in English.
Thank you Alex for stopping by the blog. It was a pleasure having you by. Here’s wishing you all the best in words and pages!
You can Find Alex:
Site and Blog: The Gearheart
- His free story listens are available there and on iTunes and on Podiobooks.
- Alex's amazing pictures of his characters are found here as well as his music.
- Which you can purchase his music on iTunes and Amazon.com