Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Writer's Wednesday - Nick Valentino!


1. Tell us a little something about yourself.

I played music for a long time. Being that I was born and raised in Nashville Tennessee one would think that we are all given guitars before baby rattles. It's true everyone in Nashville is a musician, but I didn't play country music. Quite the opposite. I started by writing lyrics. I have a huge three inch binder full of them. From there I thought it would be cool to get in some poetry contests. Let's just say that wasn't my bag. I continued to play music, tour, and record until I started writing a book. It was something I'd been craving. I loved the team environment of a band, but that same team can really let you down at times. So I concentrated on writing more and more. It was a totally self reliant thing and it was wonderful. There was nothing to get in my way but me. In a nutshell, that's how I became a writer.

2. Before we touch on Thomas Riley, can you define what steampunk is for us?

Sure there are a lot of different ways to explain steampunk. It's such a different genre but here's a good way to look at it:

The setting: Victorian times (mostly in London or in this case Europe).
The culture: Inventions, science and alchemy dominate the popular culture of the day.
The style: Corsets, vests, overcoats, wire framed spectacles, bowler hats, goggles and cloves.
The twist: The world has experienced a huge boom in technology based on steam, clockwork mechanics and alchemy.

So the difference between Steampunk history and history as we know it is that steam powered inventions dominate the world. Hence dirigibles, steam weaponry, and everything as we know it is now powered by steam. So anything imaginable existed in the Victorian period, just with steam power and gears instead of fossil fuels and electricity. So take the pioneering and explorative spirit of the era and multiply it by the ability to fly great distances with heavy weaponry. Watch out though, the world is at war and dangerous sky pirates could be lurking in great airships just beyond the horizon.

3. Now, on to Thomas Riley, your new release. What is it about?

Thomas Riley is about two alchemists/weapons designers/scientists, Thomas Riley and Cynthia Basset. Their country has been at war for two decades and for the last ten years Thomas and Cynthia have been creating the brilliant weapons to keep their country safe, well as safe as possible anyway. Thomas is forced to do some risky alchemy on a wounded woman which backfires and imbeds her soul in Cynthia. The only way to undo the botched alchemy is to go into enemy territory, kidnap their Chief Alchemist and also their arch nemesis. But the journey isn't that easy. They encounter hostile troops, enemy contraptions and are forced into an alliance with cut throat sky pirates. With only their wits and their scientific know-how will they possibly get through this adventure.

4. How did you come up with the idea for Thomas Riley?

I go to several of the bigger cons around the country. I love pop culture of all kinds, so going to cons (Especially the San Diego Comic Con and Dragon Con in Atlanta.) is a really big thing for me. It's at these places where you see all the newest stuff coming out. Movies, TV, art, books, comics, you name it and it's probably there. For a few years I noticed these people dressed up in the most fancy yet original costumes. The guys wore top hats, vests, while the ladies wore corsets, Bustle dresses and long gloves. But that's not what got me. They all had these wonderfully crazy gadgets ranging from ornate hand made clockwork back packs to full blown steam powered rifles. (Of course they were just a costume.) The more I saw them the more they impressed me. At Dragon Con, I was floored that there were thousands of these people, dressed to the nines and with gadgetry that was really impressive. I thought, "I have to write a story about this." I did a little research and boom I just started writing by the seat of my pants. Everything appealed to me. Everything from the Victorian setting with a more modern feel to the dialogue and high flying adventure made it a blast to write. The hardest part was the research I did to get at least some of the hard science correct. Technically steampunk is Science Fiction, so you can fudge some of the facts in the name of story telling.

5. Are there sequels looming in Thomas Riley's future?

Absolutely. I see Thomas Riley as a story that could go on and on. I feel like it could go three to four books. Not that this story was a cake walk for Thomas and Cynthia, but the stakes will be significantly raised in the next book.

6. Now, on to yourself. How did you become interested in writing?

I started writing lyrics and poetry when I was about thirteen for my band. I have books and books of lyrics. As cheesy as this sounds, I even joined one of those International Poetry Societies about ten years ago. Needless to say I was sorely disappointed with the whole thing. I digress. I literally said to myself, I want to write a book and from there I wrote a horror novel which is done but yet to see the light.

7. How long have you been an author?

Really I've only been writing in this form for about four years.

8. Is there a certain author that you find has influenced you the most?

Hands down Clive Barker. I love just about everything he's done. I can't explain it, but he speaks to me. I also really love the fact that he dabbles in such different mediums and genres. Sure he has a ton of horror novels, but for a while he wrote some really great fantasy and creepy YA stories as well. Weaveworld, The Thief of Always, Coldheart Canyon and Imajica are some of my favorites. On top of that, he's a painter, director, producer, and video game producer... What doesn't he do?

9. What is your proudest achievement to date?

It's absolutely this book. It's my first published novel and I really think it hasn't hit me that it's completely real. Sure I've actually held it, but it honestly felt like a really amazing dream. Everything is in my hands now. The success of this book rides on my shoulders so I'm going to give this all I've got and then some when it comes to promotion and marketing the book. This is really the first time in my life that I'm able to put all the chips on the table and not have any reservations about it. It's funny, when I first saw the book I just flipped through it, not really realizing what I was looking at. I spent the weekend in Myrtle Beach selling it at the South Carolina Writers Workshop and I finally got the chance to look at it in detail on the plane home. It was such a rush reading what I had been working on for the last year in tangible form.

10. Any advice for aspiring authors?

For me going to writer's conferences was the best thing I ever did. I had been writing for a few years and I never really had the guts to just get up and go. I literally surfed the internet looking for writer's cons and I found the one in San Diego. I booked it and went by myself. The entire experience was amazing. I can be really shy but for some reason, I felt so open around everyone. I met the best people there and at my first critique ever for Thomas Riley I met Karen Syed. How huge is that? So my advice, get out, meet other authors, publishers, and agents. I promise you'll not only have a great time, but you'll meet some really influential and inspiring people. You can't leave a writer's con without feeling completely inspired.

11. Lastly, where can readers find their very own copy of Thomas Riley?

Find out more at:

You can purchase signed copies at:


And for the really daring types, sign up to be a Sky Pirate here:

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