“Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their…well, Inspirations and Influences. The best part about I&I posts? Writers are given free rein so they can go wild and write about anything they want: their new book, series or career as a whole.
Today we are thrilled to have Kenneth Oppel as our guest author. Here to talk about dark obsessions and Such Wicked Intent, the second novel in his Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein series.
Please give a warm welcome to Kenneth!
Obsessions are a staple of literature — every great character has one. Whether it’s a desire or an aspiration, or the simple will to survive, there’s something that drives every hero — and every reader to keep turning pages.
Sixteen year old Victor Frankenstein is a fantastic character to work with. He’s the embryonic form of the man who will go on to dig up corpses, chop them up, suture then back together and jolt them with electricity to try to create life from death. Now that’s an obsession! This is the obsession of a man who is curious, intelligent, daring, but also arrogant and possibly reckless.
When you read about people who create a work of genius, whether it’s an invention or a work of art, there’s often a strain of compulsion or even madness that motivates them and keeps them working tirelessly towards their goal — often at great emotional cost to themselves and those around them. Off the top of my head it could be as various as Howard Hughes (with his movies, or his Spruce Goose), or Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now) or Philip K Dick (who wrote himself to death).
So I wondered what Victor was like as a teenager. How do you become a “mad scientist?” As a writer I think you strive to create characters that exercise the full range of human behaviour and emotion — and often these things are not heroic or noble or attractive. Victor is certainly a larger than life characters. He’s smart, arrogant, rash, selfish, but also loyal and loving and brave — in short, he’s no more an antihero than most of us on the planet. It’s huge fun to let loose a character with a temper, but also with a passion and a plan. I think you sympathize with Victor’s sense of inferiority around his perfect identical twin, and any reader would sympathize with someone who tries so hard to be good at things, in the shadow of another. Sometimes envy makes people do rotten things. So Victor’s not always nice, but you always want to watch him — and I think you want him to get what he wants, even if it’s a bit appalling. I mean, he’s Victor Frankenstein, not Harry Potter.
About the author: Kenneth Oppel has published more than 15 books for children. In 1995, he won the Air Canada Award for the best Canadian writer under the age of 30. Formerly Books for Young People Editor at Quill & Quire magazine, he now writes full time. He lives in Toronto, Ontario, with his wife and children.
Make sure to check out the other stops on the official blog tour, above, for more on Kenneth Oppel and his young Victor Frankenstein. Also, check back later today to catch our review of Such Wicked Intent.