Here at Falcata Times we love to get in with new authors as you're never sure what to expect, here we had the pleasure of interviewing Madeline about her Machine Dynasty Series and some of the answers may surprise you...
Falcata Times: Which character within your latest book was the most fun to write and why?
Madeline Ashby: Well, vN is the story of Amy Peterson, a self-replicating humanoid robot who's been raised with a mixed synthetic/organic family for the past five years. At her kindergarten graduation, she watches her abusive robotic grandmother, Portia, attack her beloved robotic mother, and she springs into action. She runs up on stage and devours her grandmother. Thereafter, her grandmother's consciousness functions as a partition, and Amy has to deal with her constant presence.
For me, Portia was the most fun to write. She's deliciously evil. She's also often factually right while being morally wrong. I love that contradiction. I just love her. I disagree with her philosophy, but I still love her. She's part GladOS, part Borg Queen, part Miss Dubose from To Kill A Mockingbird. She's a clever, hateful, violent old lady, and for me she's an approximation of the harmful mental programming we humans -- and women in particular -- have to deal with every day. She's the inner voice that says we can't, we shouldn't, we'll never, we suck. She's hatred embodied. And she's ever so much fun to write.
FT: How similar to your principal protagonist are you?
MA: Hmm. I think Amy and I both come from fairly privileged backgrounds, with all the innocence and naivete that comes with that. We experienced the loss of that innocence differently, but I think for both of us it's nothing to mourn. As human beings we pay for knowledge with innocence, and I think in most cases it's a good bargain. Amy and I also share the fact that at pivotal moments in our lives, we both understood how important our grandmothers had been to the way our mothers did things, and who we became as people as a result. There are a lot of things about my mother that I didn't understand until her mother had died. One of the most influential times in my life involved going through my grandmothers' (both maternal and paternal) things, post-mortem. It entirely re-framed my thinking of personal history, narrative, and material culture. It also made me see my parents as products of their own history, as people in development. Which is to say, real people, not just my parents.
FT: When you sit down and write do you know how the story will end or do you just let the pen take you? ie Do you develop character profiles and outlines for your novels before writing them or do you let your ideas develop as you write?
MA: I usually see the end, first. I know how it'll end, and I get a sense of the highlights that lead to that moment or that image. I have moments I want to bring my characters to, realizations they should have, or conversations they should engage in. I hear what they need to say, and those words and emotions stay pretty constant throughout the process. I don't really draw up character profiles and outlines, ordinarily. I'm doing it for the sequel to vN, but that's because in a series there's more information to keep track of, and I don't want to forget anything. Besides, Scrivener makes it really easy to hold onto all that stuff.
FT: Sometimes pieces of music seem to influence certain scenes within novels, do you have a soundtrack for your tale or is it a case of writing in silence with perhaps the odd musical break in-between scenes?
MA: Oh, I had a playlist for this book from the very beginning. I'm now using it, with some additions, for the sequel (ID). It includes a lot of Amanda Palmer, Nine Inch Nails, Fleet Foxes, Editors, Patrick Wolf, Elbow, stuff like that. If you want a theme song for vN, it's "Runs in the Family" by Amanda Palmer.
FT: What can you tell us about the next novel?
MA: Well, it takes place from the perspective of a supporting character in vN, Javier. He's another self-replicating robot, but a different model from Amy. He's a sexy, fast-talking drifter who puts some of his old skills to use while on a long quest for revenge, redemption, and self-discovery. Javier also appears in a story of mine called "The Education of Junior Number 12." You can find it here, if you're curious.
For more information and to keep up with the latest news from Madeline, visit her site here.