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The Glass Books of The Dream Eaters or What's All this Fuss About? An Interview with Gordon Dahlquist

Hi, Gordon!

In one sentence, what is The Glass Books of The Dream Eaters about?

One sentence is hard, but if pressed I'd say:

 A New World heiress sails to Europe for a husband and instead uncovers a conspiracy using pschyotropic glass that can capture human experience and replay it to every intimate degree.

What kind of reader will be interested in your books? What kind of genre would you say it is? I was really tempted to call it steampunk... but I'm not sure it will be correct.

There's certainly an element of steampunk: a slightly torqued 19th century involving technology that riffs off of 20th century inventions (mainly computing, in the case of The Glass Books).

While all three books have a social element, looking at the moral dimensions of technology, among other things, that also fit with a steampunk frame of mind, the larger emphasis - since these are novels, after all - comes from the characters themselves. Much of the book is about the difficulty of doing what you feel is right in a compromised world, especially when convinced that you yourself are also compromised, even hypocritical. Of course, as soon as I say that, I'll also backtrack to say how much of the books are also about how individuals relate to their larger society. All of the main characters are outcasts, in different ways, and we often see what a society really values by looking at those who it excludes.

These are really books for readers who like to sink into a rich historical atmosphere, who like complicated plots and intriguing puzzles, who like touches of horror, of adventure, of sex, and enjoy an intimate look at character. Another thing that distinguishes the books: they're each dense looks at very short amounts of time, generally covering a couple of days, but bristling with plot and detail.

How did you come up with the idea for the series?

More than anything, the books flowed from a lifetime of reading: reading both proper history, and historical, social-tapestry novels, but also all sorts of more plot-driven novels that we associate with the 19th century.

So many genres erupt out of that world: deductive mysteries, speculative science fiction, romances, adventure, exploration, erotica - it seemed like a natural thing to put a contemporary spin on those styles and try to wrap them all together. I really just tried to write a book that I, as a reader, would enjoy.

What about the main characters? I admit Cardinal Chang is my favorite, but do you have a favorite among them? :)

I have great feeling for them all, of course, but my favorite is Miss Temple - I suppose that's why she's the main character!

Some of this is simply because she's the one subject most to change, who both rises higher to the occasion in order to survive, and compromises herself more deeply. As a writer it's a lot of fun to write a character so unapologetically self-interested and high-handed. But equally, she's also extremely brave - and that's very interesting to me, too, exploring how such an unlikely person chooses a heroic path.

Are there any plans for getting the series televised or turned into a movie? What would be your dream cast?

The book has been repeatedly optioned, with several versions of a screenplay being written, but nothing beyond that has quite taken form. It's a long and complicated book, so my own preference would be for a television adaptation over a film, simply as a longer running time would allow for more of the detail and density that make the book what it is - but obviously everyone wants it to happen however it can. As for a cast, I don't have any deep thoughts. I think a young Helena Bonham-Carter would have been perfect as Miss Temple, a young Alain Delon would have made a great Chang, and a young Jeremy Irons would have been a perfect Dr. Svenson!

Are you working on anything else right now?

I've just published a new, short novel in the US for younger readers, called The Different Girl.

It's a little like a sweeter Lord of the Flies-like story, almost a fable, with a science fiction edge, about an orphan who lives on a small tropical island with three other girls and two adult caretakers, whose lives change rather drastically when another girl from a very different part of the world washes up after a shipwreck. And I'm just now finishing a new book, called Second Skin, that isn't a direct sequel to The Different Girl, but which takes place in the same larger world of that book and casts some light on some of that book's more mysterious elements.

Thank you very much for stopping by Nocturnal Book Reviews and letting me grill you about your book! All the best!

Gordon Dahlquist is a native of the Pacific Northwest, where he worked for several years writing and directing plays. Since 1988 he has lived in New York. He has been a member of New Dramatists, is a New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspect, and a founding member of the CiNE. His works include Messalina (Evidence Room, Los Angeles: SPF, New York), text for Babylon Is Everywhere: A Court Masque (CiNE, Schaeberle Theatre; Theatre Magazine), Delirium Palace (Evidence Room, Los Angeles; published in Breaking Ground), The Secret Machine (Twilight Theatre Company at Solo Rep), Vortex du Plaisir (Ice Factory '99 Festival at the Ohio Theatre, WKCR'S Manhattan Theatre of the Air), Island of Dogs (4th Street Theatre), Severity's Mistress (Soho Rep Theatre, New York University; winner of Primary stages' Bug &Bub award), Mission Byzantium! (American Globe Theatre, NYTW's Just Add Water Festival), and Reitcence (Horace Mann Theatre).
He has written and directed several experimental films, that have been selected for the San Francisco International Film Festival, the Seattle International Film Festival, and the Northwest Film and Video Film Festival. He is a graduate of Reed College and Columbia University's School of the Arts. He has received two Garland Playwriting Awards for Messalina and Delirium Palace.
Find Gordon:

The Glass Books of The Dream Eaters has been serialized, and you can download Chapters 1-3 for FREE!

Chapter 1 UK/US
Chapter 2 UK/US
Chapter 3 UK/US

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