As we creep ever closer to the release of Trenchcoats, Towers and Trolls I wanted to take a little peek behind the scenes and talk to some of the contributors about their stories and what inspired them. But rather than do a handful of long interviews, I asked them all the same questions and I’m pleased to share their answers here.

First I will share the question and then each contributors answers to that question will follow 🙂

Question #1: Which aspect of this anthology were you drawn to the most originally, the fairy tale or the cyberpunk bit? Did you feel the same way once you were finished writing your story as when you started? Talk about that a little bit.

For a couple of years, I’d wanted to write a science fiction version of Cinderella, so when I saw there was an anthology of cyberpunk fairytales looking for stories, I knew what I’d be writing. I love the world building I get to do with science fiction (and cyberpunk has lots of cool motifs to play with), and I like how fairytales provide a plot structure, one that many readers might be familiar with. Science fiction fairy tales are something I tend to write. (I also wrote a story which I think of as Rapunzel on the moon.) There’s something satisfying for me about combining these two elements.

— Beth Goder

I was definitely drawn to the fairy tale aspect first and foremost. I wasn’t sure I could pull off a futuristic story as I’m definitely partial to the historical eras. I was pleasantly surprised as to how this worked out! In my story, it’s quite apparent I worked in the past as well though. 🙂

— Sarah Van Goethem

I’ve always enjoyed reading modern revisions and reinterpretations of fairy tales but it’s something I’ve only experimented with briefly in my own writing. The great thing about fairy tales is how easily their archetypes and morals lead themselves to reinterpretation. Even in their classic form, we’ve been reshaping them and retelling them for generations, to the extent that when you go back and revisit the originals it can be shocking to see how cleaned up and sanitised the versions we heard as children were.

The cyberpunk aspect of the anthology definitely stood out to me. I’d never written a cyberpunk story before, but the genre itself has always fascinated me. Although I started out with the basic framework of Rumpelstiltskin to guide me, by the end I had really fallen in love with the world I’d built around it, with its peculiar lingo and variations on existing technology. I already wrote a second story set in the same universe and hope I get to revisit it again in the future.

— Michael Teasdale

Question #2: Why did you choose the fairy tale/fairy tale aspects that you did for your story? Do you have a favourite fairy tale? What is it about that fairy tale that makes it your favourite?

I think I had two initial aims in mind. First, don’t pick a fairy tale that lots of other authors will choose (ironically, it ended up being one of two Rumpelstiltskin themes stories in the anthology, so I guess that wasn’t too important). Secondly, find something that can obviously translate to the sort of technology driven world of lowlifes that a cyberpunk story will exist within.
I don’t know why, but the story of Rumpelstiltskin always resonated with me; perhaps because we grew up to inhabit an era where password security became so important. I could picture the protagonist on her way to meet this scuzzy little villain at some seedy back-street food-joint, ready to make a deal with the devil. It was the first image that came to mind and the story just flowed from there. It’s nice when that happens isn’t it?

In terms of a favourite fairy tale, this might seem a bit of a boring answer but Red Riding Hood has always stood out just for the sheer amount of interpretation that can be applied beyond its seemingly innocent surface. My only previous reworking of a fairy tale was a sci-fi flash-fiction retelling of this story focussing on the woodcutter and it was also a lot of fun to craft.

— Michael Teasdale

I chose Sleeping Beauty for the cyberpunk anthology because it fit so well with the story in my head. My favourite fairy tale I used in Grimm, Grit and Gasoline—Hansel and Gretel. I think I like Hansel and Gretel the most because it involves a woodland, a witch, and a cottage. I grew up traipsing through woodlands, so the fear instilled in a fairy tale like Hansel and Gretel is all that much more real.

— Sarah Van Goethem

Everyone knows not to submit a Cinderella story to a fairytale anthology. (The competition for a spot can be fierce, since it’s a popular story.) I decided to risk it because I already had an idea that I’d been kicking around for a couple of years.

It’s hard for me to choose a favorite fairy tale, especially since I don’t always agree with the morality lessons inherent in some tales. Instead of picking a favorite fairy tale, I think I’ll pick my favorite element of these tales, which is the repetition. I like the rhythmic feel that fairy tales often have, especially in versions where it’s clear the story was meant to be told out loud.

— Beth Goder

Question #3: Is cyberpunk a genre you were familiar with and enjoyed prior to learning about this anthology? What aspects about it particularly appeal to you? What are your favourite cyberpunk books, tv shows or movies?

My Dad’s favourite movie is Blade Runner and so a lot of that imagery has been stuck in my head for a long time. The existential plight of the replicants has always bothered me and led me directly to the works of Philip K Dick who remains one of my favourite authors.

I also really enjoyed Shadowrun as a teenager (the supremely moody SNES video game soundtrack was on a near permanent loop while I was writing this story) Around the same time I watched Akira for the first time on late night TV (another one with an amazingly atmospheric soundtrack) and that further hooked me into the genre and setting. As an adult I ended up living and working around SE Asia for half a decade and there were absolutely times when the sights and sounds I experienced made me think I was living in one of these imagined tech-heavy futures of my childhood (thankfully minus the dystopia!)

Having said that, the dystopia of cyberpunk is a part of the appeal, not so much in its essence, but in how characters find hope among the futility. It’s easy to imagine bold, brave star ship captains in gleaming ships exploring brave new frontiers but what about the ordinary folk left behind on a damaged earth? How they survive and find their daily private victories is a more interesting channel to explore for me as a writer.

— Michael Teasdale

I’ve read some cyberpunk, and I love the in-your-face world building that these stories often have, although if I have to pick a type of punk, I’ll choose hopepunk every time. I enjoyed Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy (which is sometimes classified as cyberpunk.)

— Beth Goder

I wasn’t overly familiar with Cyberpunk, however I did LOVE the matrix when it came out. I think it’s the philosophy behind it—that human existence is merely a façade, that maybe we’re just living in a computer-generated dream world. Yikes.

— Sarah Van Gothem


I hope so!

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