As a child, Neve Talbot developed the habit of lulling herself to sleep by dreaming up continuations of her favorite books too soon ended. She never left off the habit, and eventually gained confidence in worlds of her own creation. She first cracked open a spiral binder in high school, and has spent the past decade dutifully penning her prerequisite one million words of bad writing before getting to the good stuff.
Now author, editor, story coach, and journalist, Neve currently lives with her husband under the pseudonym of Penny Freeman, in a quasi-reality filled with fantasy, sci-fi, historical fiction, Regency romance, the classics, and history books, suspended between the piney woods and sprawling metropolis of southeast Texas. She plans on exploring the world when she grows up.
1. Please share how you came up with the concept for your story?
Little Women was probably my first ‘adult’ reading experience. I must have been in the 4th grade. It’s held a warm place in my heart ever since. It seemed a natural choice to expand into Steampunk. Since my protagonists tend to be male, Laurie’s story got the nod. Finally, since this book is the sequel to Mechanized Masterpieces, I decided to tie this story into “Tropic of Cancer,”, my expansion of Jane Eyre.
2. Please name some of your other published works?
I have three short stories in Xchyler anthologies: “West End” in MM2, “Tropic of Cancer” in MMSA, and “Crossroads” in Shades and Shadows: A Paranormal Anthology.
3. What is your preferred writing genre?
4. And preferred reading genre?
I am a literary omnivore, but my favorites are biography, history, and historical fiction. I also have a fond spot for the classics. Fantasy and Steampunk have really strong historical components, with the world-building, etc., which is why I think I enjoy it. I’m a sucker for a good map. Maps are graphic history.
5. What are your top 3 favorite books?
That’s like asking who’s your favorite child. The book that has had the most impact on me in recent years is Shadow of the Last Men by J.M. Salyards, recently the CYGNUS winner for science fiction.
6. Do you have any particular writing habits?
I seem to do my best writing late at night, I think because my imagination has more room to maneuver in my brain. Traffic is much lighter. I also tend to write a lot, then delete at least half, then compress that into as succinct a text as possible.
7. Do you have a playlist that you created while writing your story?
No. I usually need the quiet so I don’t get distracted. When I do listen to music, I listen to The Writer’s Trance, Orson Scott Card’s writing music on Pandora. Lots of emotive music without the distraction of lyrics.
8. Panster or plotter?
I used to be a pantser, which is how I made up my first million words of really bad writing. Now, I’m more a plotter, which makes a more finely crafted story. I believe in allowing a character to reveal themselves as the story evolves, which in its turn helps the plot itself to evolve. As they say, even the best battle plans mean nothing once the shooting starts. The same goes for writing. An author needs to be flexible enough to reevaluate and restructure their outline as they go, but having a general direction to travel and a goal to reach really helps. Also, plotters really are pantsers at heart. They just do it in a lot fewer words.
9. Advice for writers?
Follow your passion. Let your characters live you, and they will become real to your readers. Never stop learning. Every author deserves a good editor. If you find yourself telling others, “You just don’t get it,” you need to ask yourself what you can do to change it. The responsibility of communication is yours, not the reader’s.
10. What’s up next for you?
Gosh. Here’s a partial list: my historical fiction I’ve sworn to finish this year; develop Tropic of Cancer story into a full-length Steampunk novel; a long-nurtured sci-fantasy that I’ve finally muddled out. I’m ready to start outlining that as well.
Quote: “You can never get enough of what you don’t need, because what you don’t need won’t satisfy you.” —Dallin H. Oaks
TV show: Don’t have one. Inordinately fond of the BBC, though, from murder mysteries to costume dramas to Dr. Who.
Comic book characters: Don’t have one. I don’t like comic books, as a general rule, because they objectify women and glorify violence, often both at once.
Movie-book: Are we meant to choose a book made into a movie? or one or the other? Favorite book made into a movie, if your’e going by the number of versions I’ve watched, is Pride and Prejudice, hands down. That said, there are a lot of great more contemporary books-to-film, like The Help, The Color Purple, etc. Harry Potter hasn’t done a terrible job either.
Candy bar: Ferrero Rocher.
Place visited: Never traveled much, unfortunately. I would LOVE to spend at least a year in the UK, just living, and another in Europe. I have a huge list of places I’d like to go.
Restaurant: Any place with tablecloths and cloth napkins.
Island: Bali has always intrigued me, although I’ve never been there.
Liam Helmsworth for Theodore Laurence. I think he’s got the right mix of hunkiness, cockiness, and vulnerability to make it really come off.
Ian Somerhalder for Edward Rochester. He’s a touch too good-looking for the part, but he’s got a good combination of dark smolderingness and charm that works.
Julian Meeks (he has a much bigger part in my novel than he does in either Tropic of Cancer or West End): Morris Chestnut, I think. Julian’s a tricky character to cast.
Josephine March: smart, feisty, implacable, and impossible to forget? Emma Watson. Done.
Amy March: Amanda Seyfried
Beth March: This is a really, really difficult one because young actresses try to be sexy, rather than vulnerable and wise. Dakota Johnson has the right combination of both, but . . . ewww. She might be 50 shades of tainted. Too tainted for this angelic part. Victoria Morris seems like she has the sweetness for the part.
Bertha Mason: Halle Berry would make the perfect Bertha, except she’s a touch too old. Nathalie Emmanuel is also gorgeous, but she’s too young. In Bertha’s case, since age is a heavy factor in the plot of Tropic of Cancer, I’d have to go with Halle Berry.