Discovering Aberration – Interview and feature

Today’s post is actually a double-deal package. First, I would like to point your attention to an upcoming Steampunk novel, Discovering Aberration, by S.C. Barrus:



In the budding age of steam technology, Freddy Fitzgerald risks everything to write the story of a lifetime.


After stealing an ancient map from under the nose of a notorious gangster, Freddy Fitzgerald and Thaddeus Lumpen embark on a quest to find a lost civilization. As news of the map leaks, Freddy and Lumpen find themselves racing against a violent army of archaeologists, gangsters, mercenaries, scuttlers, and scarlettes.


But their destination has its own secrets, secrets which can make even the strongest go mad.


Discovering Aberration is a cerebral steampunk adventure thriller set in an alternate Victorian era. From a country on the verge of revolution to a sensational confrontation on a remote island, its final, chilling secret just might push you to the brink of insanity.


This alone sounds very interesting, especially the “brink of insanity” half-sentence right at the end. I was really intrigued by it. Luckily, I was able to ask the author about exactly what is behind those three words, because he kindly agreed to an interview.

So without further ado, here is the second part of the double package, the interview with the gentleman and scholar S. Cody Barrus, author of Discovering Aberration:

Portrait of S. Cody Barrus


Please tell me (or rather my readers) a little bit about yourself.

Hi, thanks for having me stop by your blog. My name is S.C. Barrus and I write strange and thrilling literary adventures. My short stories and essays have been published both in print and digital magazines, but what I’m really excited about is my debut steampunk novel, Discovering Aberration which is coming out in January and can be pre-ordered right now for $3.99. It’s the biggest project I’ve ever worked on, and easily the one I’m most proud of.


Where can we find you on the web?

If you’re interested in following me, you can find me at my blog Away and Away where I share updates and blog posts about books, writing, self publishing, steampunk and whatever else I think my readers will enjoy. You can also find me on Google+ and Facebook.


Is “Discovering Aberration” your first novel?

Discovering Aberration is the first novel I’ve perused publishing. I’ve actually written 3 other novels which never saw the light of day. The first was written while I was in high school and was called My Field of Everlasting Smiles. I actually won an award for it from my school upon graduation, but when it came to publishing I was too young to understand the industry and gave up pretty quick.

The second, called Rem and the Big Case, was written for the 3-day novel contest. It’s a nior story all about lucid dreams. I’ve been thinking of eventually turning that one into a full fledged novel, but first I need to finish all my other projects.

The third was called Everything Else by the Wayside and was written while I was studying creative writing in college. I never really sought to publish these novels for a variety of reasons, but when I started writing Discovering Aberration it was with the intent that this was going to be my debut.


How long have you been a writer?

I’ve been a writer since I was young. I published my first poem when I was around 12 years old. But it was in high school where I first realized I wanted to be an author. There I took 3 years of creative writing and eventually wrote that short novel. Ever since then everything I’ve done has been to prepare me for a writing career, and now I’m slowly transitioning into that area.


What got you into writing?

I think there were two books in particular that made me want to write. The first was Tales of Mystery and Imagination, a collection of short stories by Edgar Allen Poe. I probably read “The Pit and the Pendulum” one hundred times, and for a while I really tried to write a story just like it.

But years later when I read Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk I was really inspired. His novels are written in this minimalist style that made me realize how simple yet powerful writing can be. Then I found out that Chuck shared writing advice so I tracked it down and ate it up. I even met Chuck once at a book reading for about 20 seconds. It was these two book that first made me want to write.


Where do you draw your inspirations from?

Inspiration can come from so many places. Discovering Aberration draws on a variety of sources. The initial inspiration for the basic premise came from a dream I had where I was an explorer on a remote jungle island. The two main characters, Freddy and Lumpen, were inspired by conversation my cousin and I used to have when we worked together in between delivering pizza’s. The scuttlers, Victorian era gang members, were based on a real phenomenon of teenage street fighters that blossomed in the London in the 1800’s and the main antagonist, John-Joseph Heller was also based on a real scuttler (though that scuttler was Heler, not Heller).

I also drew heavily on the plots of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson novels, especially books like Around the World in 80 Days, 10,000 Leagues Under the Seas, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Treasure Island. These novels are so much fun, and I wanted to create a modern version of these kinds of adventure stories.


Why did you choose a steampunk setting?

Steampunk is so much fun, and there are so many different aspects of it that I enjoy. Some people love the fashion, others love the books, and still others are fans the movies and video games. I was first drawn to the genre of steampunk through a video game called Arcanum and I immediately loved the setting. Then I began reading the classics by Verne, Stevenson and Lovecraft, and I was totally drawn into their characters and worlds. There was always this desire to create something like that.

Then when I began writing, steampunk felt like a very natural choice for this novel. There was a story I felt like I needed to tell and it fell nicely into the steampunk genre without needing to be forced. There is this huge range of steampunk out there, especially in terms of fiction, and DA fits closest into the mold of Victorian Era Sci-Fi like Jykell and Hyde though we do get to see some steam and gear powered devices as well. But my favorite thing that the steampunk genre allows is the twist, so I can’t really talk about it without giving the ending away. Rest assured, there are some dark themes here which Lovecraft fans especially will enjoy.


What does steampunk mean to you?

Steampunk is a fantastic subculture. We look to the future while longing for the past. It’s almost a heart broken idea, but it’s a worthy one too. There’s something I love about people connected to the steampunk scene, they’re doers, they make things and they do it passionately. They also cling to these almost lost ideals, ideals which we need a little more of these days.


What is your connection to the scene?

My connection is almost strictly literary though I would love to be more entrenched in the near future. There are only so many hours in the day, and I need to spend them focused on my goal of creating the best novel I can. As I wrap up the editing process of Discovering Aberration, I plan on getting out there and getting deeper into the steampunk culture, but for now I’m simply writing in it and sharing with others what I love about steampunk.


The blurb  for DA sounds fascinating, the “brink of insanity” element, does that hint at something Lovecraftian?

It certainly does, but I don’t want to give too much away.

Awwh, that’s too bad…

What I can say is that I love to play on people’s expectations. As readers, watchers and viewers, we’ve come to expect certain things in our entertainment, but when these expectations are fulfilled we are almost disappointed because we’ve seen that before.

Part of story telling that I love is knowing what people expect out of any given narrative circumstance and then turning it on it’s ear.

Here’s a simple example of what I mean. We’ve all seen a bar fights in a movie and books and all expect it to play out in a certain way. Even when the hero is behind, we expect him swing his fists through the chaos and pull ahead. So when he does just that we’re not surprise. In Discovering Aberration, the hero’s loose the bar fight and they loose badly. It’s only through their ingenuity that they can come back ahead.

A couple of the major twists are similar to that, but with Lovecraftian cerebral terror thrown in, but this too is done in a way that I hope defies expectations.

OK, seems like I have to skip it forward a few places on my to-read list when it comes out. Cody, thank you so much for your time and let’s see how my review turns out in January.

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