Recently I reviewed the debut novel by Genevieve Valentine, Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti. I thought it a brilliant and intriguing book, and as a writer, I wondered about the thought process behind some of the concepts. Genevieve was kind enough to answer some questions for me.
The bones (in the story, circus aerialists have their human bones replaces with light, hollow copper one) represent different things to each character who receives them. What inspired them, and what did they represent for you, the author?
Appropriately enough, bird skeletons were a large part of the influence on the bones. I was looking them up for something unrelated, but the physiology was really interesting and stuck with me as I started writing about what exactly made the performers in the Circus Tresaulti so different. For me, the bones were always a tangible symbol of the sacrifices you make for something you love, though the self-destructive aspect of it often goes hand-in-hand, depending on the character.
The narrative jumps among several voices and points of view. Why did you choose that form?
When I sat down to begin I just started writing, and the scenes I wanted to get down first came first, in the perspective I thought made the most sense. By the time I had the breathing space to sit back and worry if it was going to work, I loved how it was coming together too much to think about stopping.
The story doesn’t have a specific setting, either geographically or in time. Why did you decide on that?
I approached it with the idea that the deep aftermath of a war takes on this air of inevitability and surreality, as if it both defined and took place outside of the world now. With a war as big as the one that’s implied here, that devastates natural resources and completely shifts the practice of government, old nations and eras slowly cease to matter. It doesn’t help that the Circus operates in this landscape as they themselves are a bit unstuck in time by the magic that holds the Circus together.
How well did the artwork by Kiri Moth capture your sense of the story?
SO WELL. Sorry for the caps, but it’s awesome. The cover alone is so detailed and evocative that no one could ask for more, but for me, some of the interior art pieces truly hit home. My two favorites are probably the griffin, which is so perfect it’s become an emblem for the Circus in earnest, and Elena on the trapeze. The grace and introspection and loneliness of that moment is exactly how I had pictured it when I was writing, and seeing the recreation in my inbox the first time, I clutched my pearls like a dowager.
Thanks to Genevieve for answering my questions. You can find Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti at all the usual outlets.