Today I am interviewing Josiah Bancroft, author of the new fantasy-adventure novel, Senlin Ascends, the first book in The Books of Babel series.
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DJ: Hi Josiah! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Josiah: Hello, DJ. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me.
Certainly! I’m a rabbit-loving, bass playing, recovering poet who has recently embarked upon the adventure of writing fantasy novels for a living. In the past, I’ve been an aspiring comic book artist, a college-level writing instructor, and a rock and roller in the band, Dirt Dirt. I live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with my wife, Sharon. We’re anticipating the arrival of our first child this April.
DJ: What is Senlin Ascends about?
Josiah: It’s the story of a nightmarish honeymoon to the immense, over-populated, and byzantine Tower of Babel. Thomas Senlin travels with his young bride, Marya, to the Tower to celebrate their recent wedding, and very shortly after arriving, he loses her in the teeming crowd. In his efforts to find her, he is thrown into all sorts of unexpected adventures, none of which he is at all prepared for. At the start, Senlin is a proud and bookish know-it-all, but the Tower quickly breaks him down, and he soon realizes that if he is going to survive this horrible vacation and this merciless, deceptive place, he is going to have to grow as a person, developing both humility and courage.
DJ: What were some of your influences Senlin Ascends and the series?
Josiah: A number of books and films inspired the writing of Senlin Ascends. When I began writing the series, I was re-reading many of the adventure novels I’d enjoyed as a boy, including those written by H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, and Alexandre Dumas. I find the world view and social opinions of those works extremely problematic, but the underlying sense of awe and adventure was something I wanted to recapture and update for a contemporary audience. I was also reading many South American and European magical realist novels, including Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits, Gabriel Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities.
I’ve always loved films. My mother started me on a steady diet of classic Hollywood movies when I was young, and I never lost my love of the form. My writing has been influenced by many pictures, directors, and screen writers over the years. In particular, Senlin Ascends owes a lot to Fritz’s Lang’s Metropolis, Hayao Miyazaki entire canon of work (but particularly Spirited Away), and Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. I wanted the books to provide readers with a cinematic experience without bogging them down with great chunks of world-building exposition. Hopefully, I was successful in that regard. Continue reading