I am, as an author firmly planted in the Gothic tradition, nothing if not borne of my influences; Poe, Radcliffe, the Brontes, Shelley, Stoker, Gaskill, and to deign to dip into the 20th century, du Maurier and Leroux. If I have to choose one Literary Luminary, it would be Poe. (What Would Poe Do? Is the answer to all my writer's-block prayers). I choose Poe as my north star for his facility with language, his subtle social critiques, his eye for the supernatural sublime, his succinct power, his eye for detail and psychology, and countless other ways in which I appreciate him more and more upon every deeper read.
Much as Poe wrote in every kind of genre and did so with enviable ease and aplomb, so did I want to include varied genre elements into my seventh novel and debut with Tor Books, THE ETERNA FILES. My editor and I sat down to hammer out the kind of Gaslamp Fantasy book I wanted to write, and I was encouraged to really go "all out" on it and include as many wild and sweeping aspects as the Gaslamp Gothic can manage. A circus act of spies, for example.
The Eterna Files, which will be at least 3 novels with companion novellas, contains a large cast of quirky characters ranging from psychics to skeptics, con men to assassins, spies and Lords, mediums to chemists, theorists and magicians and more, across a range of gender, socio-economic status, talents, races, cultures and perspectives. Set in 1882, it follows two offices in New York and London, both set up to find the 'cure for death'. What lurks in the shadows of that quest is a danger none of them are prepared for; an insidious secret cabal lurking in displaced aristocracy is bent on overturning social and economic order via acts of supernatural terrorism.
The Eterna Files also features cameo appearances of characters from my Magic Most Foul and Strangely Beautiful sagas. One doesn't have to have read those series to dive in on Eterna, but those familiar with the other series will smile at the return of favorite old friends. The reason for this is that my work deals heavily in Tropes, genre tradition and the kinds of stock characters that one expects in a Gothic, however I never make them cardboard or one dimensional, the trick in my work is to expand what might be considered all the stuff for a melodrama into a deeper and more complex drama, taking the Tropes and fully inhabiting them beyond each characters "stock purpose" or expected role/duty. If, in the Eterna Files, set in the same time frame and locations as my other works, needs the same kinds of characters, since I am furthering my genre vein and my conventions remain mostly the same, why invent a new character to do the same as my previous characters were already established doing? In all my works we meet characters in mid-life transitions and various crises. I don't want to be accused of writing the same characters with different names. Might as well use the exact same characters living in a new light and in a new storyline that is a part of the same broader world.
My fascination remains the border between corporeal and incorporeal, faith and magic, light and dark, sense and sensibility, pride and hubris, gifts and curses, life and death, and all manner of paranormal phenomena. All my characters throughout my series try to bring something uniquely their own to these aspects and antithesis, but they all struggle within the same gaslit, Gothic world where it is the 19th century reality as our modern history knows it, but gone terribly, terribly haunted.
I hope you'll come join me on my dark and stormy nights, I thank you for your time and interest. And I thank Charles, who was a delightful fellow panelist at AnachroCon on many themes of mutual interest and expertise, for the generous space here to speak to you, Dear Reader. Cheers and as I always say, happy haunting!
Leanna Renee Hieber
Buy The Eterna Files from Barnes and Noble: http://tinyurl.com/eternabn
Signed copies from WORD, Brooklyn: http://tinyurl.com/eternawd
And thank you. Leanna, for taking the time to write this post.