Clockwork Lives: Interview with Kevin J. Anderson

Clockwork Lives: Interview with Kevin J. Anderson

In honor of the upcoming release of Clockwork Lives: The Graphic Novel, we sat down with the author, Kevin J. Anderson, to learn more about how this new graphic novel was created!

1) How did the idea for Clockwork Lives come about?

Neil and I had already written the novel Clockwork Angels, and we loved the world and characters. We wanted to do something more with that universe and scenario, and we had a lot of ideas for stories about the individual characters…but we didn’t want to just do a collection of random stories. we needed a reason to pull them all together, and the great conceit of Clockwork Lives is the alchemical book, the woman with a quest to collect the stories while building her own. The novel came together just perfectly and we’re very proud of it. I really wanted to see it adapted to a graphic format, but by its very nature this story is not possible to do as a set of monthly single-issue comics. Insight Editions, though, wanted to do the whole thing as a big, ambitious graphic novel. Sold!

2) What are some of the main themes of the book?

The main character, Marinda, goes around collecting the tales of people’s lives—so it’s full of great stories—but one of the shocking and meaningful things she discovers is that so many people she meets haven’t DONE ANYTHING with their entire lives. Their stories are no more than a few lines, while other people have done tremendous things. The key line at the beginning is “Some lives can be summed up in a sentence or two. Other lives are epics.”  I want people to LIVE life, not just pass time.

3) What were your motivations in writing some of your favorite stories featured in Clockwork Lives?

Most of the stories are about beloved characters first seen in Clockwork Angels, but others are new. Neil and I especially liked the scamp and pickpocket Guerrero, who is not a very likeable of honorable guy, and yet we needed to find a way to make him sympathetic. (And that story also pulled in a favorite, but obscure, Rush track The Necromancer.)  A simple-seeming story, The Strongman’s Tale, didn’t seem to have much to it when we started to figure out Golson’s story…and then it became so much more. Finally, the most epic of all the tales, “The Fortune Teller’s Tale,” is a real tour-de-force. It could have been its own novel!

4) What was it like to collaborate with Neil Peart?

I’ve known Neil for about 28 years now, so this has been a long time coming. He is an incredible perfectionist, and I was a little worried when we started, but he was terrific to work with. We climbed a mountain together in Colorado and brainstormed the initial backbone of the first novel, and we sent countless emails back and forth developing the characters and storyline. For Clockwork Lives, I would send him the rough draft of each story as I wrote it, plus the frame story chapters. It was exhilarating for both of us.

5) What specific ideas did you give to Neil, and vice versa?

The very foundation is from Neil, because the world and characters are from the Rush album Clockwork Angels, which Neil wrote, and I helped develop and flesh it all out. Neil said “You’re the master world builder! Create the rest of it.”  Neil also specifically worked a lot on The Percussor (obviously!) and Guerrero was based on his life experiences.

6) Will there be a sequel to the book?
We may have one more story to tell in this Clockwork universe, but it’s still just a small glimmer on the horizon!


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