Software engineer, video game developer, and father, Jay Barnson
is a transplant to the state of Utah from the east coast. He grew up on
a diet of science fiction and fantasy ranging from Howard, Heinlein,
and Tolkien to Lucas and Spielberg. His wife and daughters had to
drag him to his first steampunk convention. And now they can’t drag
him away from the genre. Jay’s first short story with The X, “Dots,
Dashes and Deceit,” appeared in Terra Mechanica: A Steampunk
1. Character Casting: Who would you cast for your main
characters and why?
Samuel Chase – Zachary Levi. For reasons of Samuel’s heritage, and
the fact that Levi has proven he can play a buff nerd… which
Miriam Janssen – Jennifer Lawrence. Hey, I can dream, can’t I? She’s
smart and doesn’t suffer fools lightly.
Brom “Bones” van Brunt – Rutger Hauer. Brom was an athlete,
horseman, jokester, and maybe a little bit of a thug when he was
younger – a lot like some of the characters Hauer played.
Katrina van Brunt – Kate Mulgrew. Katrina was once a beautiful young
heiress with few requirements but to attend her studies and choose a
suitor, but decades and hardship have forced her to become practical
and self-reliant. Mulgrew could definitely do that.
2. Author Favorite Things:
My favorites change daily. I’m a leaf in the wind!
Not “I’m a leaf in the wind,” sadly. How about this one by Antoine de
Saint-Exupery: “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing
more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
- TV show
Ever? Probably Firefly. *sniff*
- Comic book character
Spider-Man. Love his style. Unless I’m trying to prove my geek cred
by noting someone less popular, in which case I’d choose Illyana
Rasputin (Magik). Poor Illyana.
If I pretend the other movies didn’t happen, I might answer “The
Fiction? Probably The Warrior’s Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold
- Candy bar
- Junk food
Cajun french fries.
- Place you visited
Hawaii. It might be different living there, but it sure is an excellent
place to visit.
Miyazaki’s Laputa – the Castle in the Sky.
1. Please share how you came up with the concept for your
Almost every modern story based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow -
movies, TV shows, whatever – makes the assumption that the
headless horseman was a supernatural entity. I thought, “how about
a follow-up story based on the idea that there was nothing
supernatural going on?” The horseman was Brom the whole time.
Ichabod Crane did go to New York City and became a successful
lawyer, and eventually a judge, as was suggested in the original
story. Maybe he raised a family – that was definitely a dream of his.
Assume a steampunk twist to the story – with some fun pseudo-
science – and move forward a few decades into the middle 1800s,
and what kind of story could be told?
Originally, Brom wasn’t even going to be a character in the story. But
when I imagined the strapping, athletic, sometimes bullying prankster
Brom in his waning years – literally, the waning days of his life in this
story – I fell in love with the concept. Here’s a guy whose body has
betrayed him, his regrets weighing down his soul. What would he do
for one more day of youthful vigor? And what would he do with it if he
2. Please name some of your other published works?
As far as fiction is concerned, I had a steampunk short story
published by Xchyler last year in Terra Mechanica called “Dots,
Dashes, and Deceit.” I’m also an indie game developer, and my most
recent release is a tongue-in-cheek fantasy role-playing game for
Windows called “Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon.” Yeah, it
is pronounced “Smack Down.” We’re talking subtle, high-brow humor
3. What is your preferred writing genre?
At this point, with two steampunk stories published, I’d have to say
steampunk. I love it and want to keep writing more of it, if only
because it’s something fun and relatively different. But I’m a fan of all
kinds of speculative fiction, so I’m really happy working with several
4. And preferred reading genre?
That’s kind of like asking me to name my favorite child, isn’t it? I could
say, “Speculative Fiction” and leave it at that, I guess, because I love
everything from horror to space opera to steampunk to sword-and-
sandals fantasy. While I definitely have a preference for the fantastic,
it still comes down more to author and story for me than genre.
5. What are your top 3 favorite books?
If I were to limit myself to fiction, I’d say… Neuromancer by William
Gibson, The Warrior’s Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold, and
Small Favor by Jim Butcher. Although all three of those are part of a
series of books and short stories, and I couldn’t possibly just
recommend anyone read one book without reading the rest…
6. Do you have any particular writing habits?
Bad ones, mainly. My wife is amused by my habit of pacing while I’m
thinking. If I get stuck trying to figure out how to say something or
how to get to point B from point A, I apparently need to move my feet
to resolve it.
7. Do you have a playlist that you created while writing your
The theme song for The Van Tassel Legacy was “Last Ride of the
Day” by Nightwish, from their Imaginaerium album.
8. Panster or plotter?
I’m a poser panster and a poor plotter. How’s that? I like to think that I
can write by the seat of my pants and my muse just cuts loose, but
that never happens. I need a solid foundation to work from. It’s like I
don’t know what to write until I’ve already written it… in the form of an
outline. But then the story never follows the outline. It starts there, but
inevitably runs off in its own direction about halfway through.
9. Advice for writers?
10. What’s up next for you?
More short stories, for the time being.
A Princess of Jasoom by J. Aurel Guay
Winged Hope by Megan Oliphant
The Van Tassel Legacy by Jay Barnson
Invested Charm M. Irish Gardner
Payoff for Air Pirate Pete by D. Lee Jortner
Rise of the House of Usher by J.R. Potter
The Silver Scams by M. K. Wiseman
Nautilus Redux by Scott E. Tarbet
Mr. Thornton by Scott William Taylor
West End Neve Talbot