Amanda Orneck, author of Deus Hex Machina, is stopping by The Warbler today to talk about her book and its recent induction into the Sword and Laser collection. You can follow Amanda on Twitter and Facebook, and read more about Deus Hex Machina at deushexmachina.com.
About Deus Hex Machina:
Deus Hex Machina is the story of Isidore RAM, a hacker working as a Sister of the Circuit for the Church of Technology. She is what is known as a hexer. One night during her rounds in the virtual world known as the Grid, the code mysteriously changes around her, sparking a mystery that leads her from the digital landscape into a dystopic cyberpunk Orange County. Isidore is forced headlong into a world of intrigue that results from the death of her mentor and the search for something called “Artifacts”. Along the way she befriends a mech gang leader more interested in selling the artifacts Isidore is looking for than studying them. Together they must answer the most important question of their lives: What is Cri-Lux?
Q: What part of your novel’s world excites you most?
A: All my life growing up in Orange County I used to make up stories about the strange buildings I saw around the area. Several of the office buildings and such you see around the area just look like they are from the future. I think these buildings are one of the major reasons I started writing science fiction in the first place. I am incredibly excited to be able to bring some of my favorite places to life, recolored in a cyberpunk context. I sort of feel that although I essentially destroy Orange County in order to create this dystopic landscape, Deus Hex Machina is, more than anything, a love letter to the county I spent so much of my childhood in.
Q: You just found out that DHM has been selected to join the Sword and Laser collection? How did that feel? What does that mean for you and for your readers?
A: I was in complete and utter shock for hours after I found out. Shaking, jelly, a little bit of tears. I couldn’t believe it. A contest ended three days ago (one I didn’t enter this time around), but I felt like somehow I was the real winner.
Deus Hex Machina was submitted to Inkshares through the Sword & Laser The Sequel contest in December, and all throughout the contest I kept fantasizing in the back of my head “well maybe I’ll get in the collection”. That was the dream, even after I came in 6th and lost the contest. So you can imagine how amazing it felt to have this book chosen as their first non-contest entry into the Imprint.
There are so many amazing books sitting on that Sword & Laser shelf. I only hope I can live up to them.
Q: What (if any) are some novels (or films, games, etc.) that are similar to yours?
A: I like to bill this book as Akira meets the Matrix or Johnny Mneumonic meets The Name of the Rose. I might say it’s a bit closer to Stephenson’s Snow Crash, especially his vision of a virtual world, and there’s definitely a Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell vibe in there. Basically, if it’s traditional cyberpunk, it’s influenced this book in some way.
Q: What was the most interesting bit of information you uncovered in your research for DHM?
A: Oy, I’ve had to live online with regard to research on this book. I guess that’s very hexer of me. But since all of my locations are across the country from me right now, I can’t walk down the streets of Balboa Island like I intended to when I came up with the idea for DHM. The most fascinating research I think in this regard was planning out the Archive sequence. That is based on the Los Angeles Central Library, an amazing art deco building right in the heart of downtown LA. I did my best to keep true to the layout of the building as best I could, reading maps and stitching together Yelp photos so that I had as clear an understanding of the building as I was able to do virtually. It was a blast building encounters rooted in the library’s actual architecture. I’ll have to do a research trip some time to see how close I got.
Q: How much time is left in your campaign? When do you anticipate putting DHM in readers’ hands?
A: I have just about a month left in my funding campaign. My intent is to finish the first draft of the novel this month. I was going to finish it last month, but these darn extra scenes keep diving into the manuscript when I’m not looking. I’ve added two chapters beyond my original scope thus far, and I might even need to push it into a third extra by the time I’m done.
As for timing, once I get the draft done then I head straight into editing. I’m looking for three rounds of drafts fueled by beta reader feedback, and then I’ll send it off to my editor probably at the start of the fall. Once that’s back to me I’ll submit to Inkshares for the copy edit and such. I think they are pretty full already for 2017, but I would love to see this out in the fall of next year. That would give me a full year almost to finish and fund the sequel, because of course there’s a sequel coming.
Q: Is this your first novel?
A: No, DHM will be my second published novel. My first is a high fantasy piece I self published entitled Shadow of the Owl. If you’re a fan of elves, elemental magic, dragons and reluctant princesses, twins sharing the same mind, that sort of thing, you can check that out on Amazon.
Q: What else are you working on?
Well I paused work on the sequel to Shadow of the Owl so that I could focus on DHM, but I will be getting back to that book soon. I am currently calling it Shadow of the Panther. Anyone who’s read the first book will understand why.
In addition I run a game blog called GameGeex.com, which is suffering of late from my devotion to DHM.
Other than that it’s DHM all day every day. This book has sort of taken over my life in the last few months, with good reason. It’ll be weird the day I finally finish the project. I’m not sure how I’ll handle it. Only one way to find out though.