Today’s interview features Bard Constantine, and we talk about his book Troubleshooter as well as Dieselpunk and making up slang.
The interview is part of a series of posts where I talk to writers about the interesting things they dig up during their research process. If you know of an indie writer who you’d be interested in seeing featured in this kind of interview, let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do!
Thanks for taking part in this interview Bard, and for being on the blog today! Could you start by telling us a little bit about the Troubleshooter series?
Thanks, Celine. The Troubleshooter started off as a quirky little experiment at a writing site where I created a story using my writing peers as characters. After I finished it I realized I could adapt it into an actual novel. It’s basically an ode to the noir private eye films and stories, but I took that gritty tone and lingo and placed it into a dystopian future. So it’s a mixed-genre novel, ranging from noir to cyberpunk and dieselpunk as well.
Could you explain what dieselpunk is, and are there books you’d recommend (on top of yours of course!) for anyone who is new to the genre but wants to explore it?
There are many definitions of dieselpunk, but to me it takes on the era of the World Wars, the Jazz Age—that turning point in history when the world changed. Then it gets ‘punked’ by adding in a speculative element, whether it’s science fiction, supernatural, alternate history, or the like. Good examples of dieselpunk would be Indiana Jones, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, the Bioshock video games, and even recent films and shows like the first Captain America and the Agent Carter TV series.
As far as books, I greatly enjoyed the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfield. The Dragonfly series by Charles A Cornell is highly enjoyable as well. As far as a visual medium, the book Diesel City features a collections of iconic work by Stefan Prohaczka. There are other novels out there, many waiting to be discovered. The Troubleshooter novels aren’t dieselpunk at its purest, but the elements are definitely there and a major part of the story’s personality.
One of the striking things about Troubleshooter is the language used: Mick Trubble has all sorts of colourful expressions, which I really enjoyed! How did you research the way he speaks, is he based on expressions from a particular place or era? And could you give us some of the more unusual/amusing expression you’ve come across while researching that?
The slang used in the Troubleshooter is a blend of old expressions and personally created ones. Many of the expressions were used in hardboiled novels and films (guns are ‘heaters’, girlfriends are ‘molls’, you kill someone by ‘filling them with daylight’, etc). Others I either adapted or created from scratch to fit the story (dying is called the ‘New Haven Blues’, hovercars are called ‘skimmers’, flying cars are called ‘floaters’, bounty hunters are ‘Nimrods’, etc).
I did a lot of research online to capture the phrases that would really cement the New Haven mood and feel, create a world different from other tales of dystopian futures. The blend of old with new is what sets the Troubleshooter novels apart from its contemporaries and much of that is the lingo spoken by the characters.
As far as favorite expressions, I liked coming across words I’d never heard of, like ‘darb’, which means high quality or outstanding. The term ‘glad rags’ is a favorite of mine as well, which simply means stylish clothing.
My personal favourite is ‘getting fitted for a New Haven trench coat’ (which means getting killed).
There are quite a wide range of weapons in the story, some fictional and some real — can you tell us about the more exotic weapons/forms of combat you’ve come across in your research?
It was pretty fun to research and create the weapons for the story. The truth is there are so many weapons that have already been created that I didn’t even know existed. For instance, Mick Trubble’s backup piece is a gyroscopic handgun that fires miniature rockets. That was something actually created in the 60s, called a Gyrojet. Other weapons I created from scratch, like the biogun, which is powered by the individual’s own body. Like the story, the weapons are a blend of old and new. So gangsters still tote Tommy guns, albeit modified with threat detectors and X-Ray scanners.
What other research have you done for both the Troubleshooter, and its sequel A Most Dangerous Dame? What was the most interesting thing you uncovered?
I’d have to say it’s the historical research. In order to make the setting authentic, I end up researching a lot of different things, from Parisian burlesque theaters to Greek diners. The second novel features more of that kind of intimate detailing, since we’re past the breakneck pace of the first novel. I also love to feature different types of dialect and slang with the introduction of new characters. The second book features encounters with the Mafia, so I had to learn some of that Borgata lingo and try to make it sound natural. I also created an Australian hacker, which led to some fun Australian slang/lingo as well. I’ve always loved diversity, and New Haven is a melting pot of different backgrounds and cultures, like a futuristic New York or Los Angeles. Researching the little details pays out large in making the people and setting natural to the readers.
Anything you want to say to the readers?
I just want to thank those who have taken a chance on the Troubleshooter novels. I greatly appreciate it and love the feedback, so don’t hesitate to let me know how you feel. Writing these books are great fun, but it wouldn’t make a difference without the readers that pick it up. I hope to keep entertaining you for a while with this series.
Thank you for taking part Bard!
The Troubleshooter is available on Amazon here
Mick Trubble has two major problems: a past that he can’t remember, and a price on his head. So when a mysterious dame shows up with a proposition to recover some stolen goods, it’s all in a day’s work for a man with nothing to lose.
But this is New Haven, where nothing is as it seems. It’s a dystopian melting pot of slick men and cool dames, hard gangsters and smooth players. It’s a dark, multi-layered city where the rich dwell above in flying vehicles and bright lights, while the disadvantaged fight over the remains in the gritty streets. There are secrets buried behind sealed doors and the minds of men and women who won’t hesitate to kill in order to protect them.
So when Mick’s case uncovers a conspiracy that threatens the entire populace, he has to rely on his connection, allies, and sheer cunning in order to put the pieces together and stay a step ahead of catching a case of the New Haven Blues.
The Troubleshooter is a what you get when you take a 30’s pulp detective like Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe and drop him in a Blade Runner environment. A blend of noir, dieselpunk and sci fi, it’s sure to please readers of mixed genre tales and action lovers alike.