A while back, I reviewed the first book in a very interesting science fiction universe. grydscaen: beginnings by Natsuya Uesugi created a fascinating dystopian world that I think is worth exploring. Check out the review here if you haven’t already and then read on for my interview with the author.
As always, this was a Facebook chat, so it is pretty long. I do hope you enjoy it as much as you did my other interviews.
Alina Popescu: First off, thank you for agreeing to the interview! Let’s start at the beginning, when did you start writing?
Natsuya Uesugi: Thank you for having me! I started writing young. I really started doing it seriously in middle school.
That is indeed quite young! Was it a passion of yours, or did it start with school work?
Natsuya Uesugi: I wanted to be two things growing up, a fighter pilot and a writer. Writer happened, fighter pilot unfortunately did not. I loved school growing up.
Well, you can always write a fighter pilot character. Did you try out more genres, or were you always attracted to science fiction?
Natsuya Uesugi: I do actually have fighter pilots in grydscaen, my sci-fi series.
Yes, I know, they were not yet front and center in book one though. I had a feeling they might become important though.
Natsuya Uesugi: One of the grydscaen books, grydscaen: utopia is a mostly relationship story, light romance but sci fi is my thing. Writing a paranormal actually which will be released after grydscaen.
That sounds awesome. I get it, sci-fi is still your favorite, but I look forward to the paranormal.Tell us a bit more about the grydscaen series. What inspired this dystopian world?
Natsuya Uesugi: In college i studied Japan and China and Japanese. World War II was a topic that was studied. The nuclear destruction in grydscaen comes from that.
I wanted to explore hackers, government, war and oppression. I am a systems analyst so i have always been around computers, cyber security and developers, that is where the hackers come from. My parents were computer programmers. They talked about it at dinner
That is wonderful, especially when you perfectly understand the mentality of those you describe.
The world in grydscaen in very bleak, at least in the first book. Do you aim to improve the world you have created? Bring more light to it?
Natsuya Uesugi: Yes, it helps with characters and making them real.
The series is dark, there is method to my madness. There are glimmers of light like in grydscaen: utopia. In my latest book there is hope and courage even in a dark world. The latest book is grydscaen: tribute.
grydscaen does not really have heroes, I’d say most are antiheroes, yet do a fine job at being courageous. Do you prefer this type of characters?
Also, can you please list all the books in the series for our readers? Just so they know how many are published/planned?
Natsuya Uesugi: Beginnings, the book you reviewed is backstory. Lino Dejarre, the son of the Viceroy and a prince is the main character of the series. I don’t want to call out a hero. I let the reader decide who they want to get behind and cheer. That is part of the grydscaen mystique. You can side with the hackers, or the government. It is up to the reader to decide
To date there are utopia, beginnings, tribute, retribution and volume 2 grydscaen: war. The word grydscaen is in all the titles. Retribution is volume 1. Beginnings and utopia are backstory.
Will war close the cycle or are there more books planned?
Natsuya Uesugi: Tribute is a book of short stories. grydscaen: alliance will be published next year. More books are planned. But the ending will close out the series. We have a little more to go till we get there. Grydscaen is an epic.
Yeah, sounds like a true saga! Do you have it all planned out, or do your characters derail you occasionally and start new stories?
Natsuya Uesugi: No, it is all planned out down to the very end. Didn’t run into any derailments really.
I had one book i had to put down for six months, jumped off and wrote beginnings then went back to it. Maybe i would call that a mini derail but it all worked out. The characters tell me where they want to go and i neat listen otherwise it might get difficult. Best listen!
Yeah, they have their way of getting there anyway.
Natsuya Uesugi: That they do!
Tell us a bit about your writing process. Do you have your own rituals? Do you need certain things for writing to flow?
Natsuya Uesugi: Originally the grydscaen books were typed and not saved. I had the pages in binders. So i had to go back and type utopia, beginnings and war from the manuscripts so i could send to the publisher. Each manuscript has a coloured binder. I wanted to do all the colours of the gay pride flag. Each book cover has a highlight colour, beginnings was orange. That is the colour of the manuscript binder.
I wrote character sketches, background and actually illustrated all the characters so i know what they look like since i design all my book covers. I even did org charts amd maps. I did not do outlines.
That all sounds like a very well planned process.
Are your characters inspired by people you know? Or are they figments of your imagination?
Natsuya Uesugi: Some of the characters have facets of people i know. Berlin from utopia is based on an actual person i was very close to. Lino has some aspects of me. Each character is unique.
Were there any characters that you had trouble writing? Maybe their story was too dark or heartbreaking?
Natsuya Uesugi: Rom who was the first grydscaen character is a homeless gay teen. His story is bleak. I created him in the 9th grade, he used to be a hacker but they erased his memory, the government did and threw him out in the street. His life is hard. His story took some doing. He has two stories in grydscaen: tribute.
I’d probably be crying my way through writing him. Your world has scifi elements, a lot of gaming, and anime/manga too, or at least that’s how I see it. Do you read a lot of scifi and manga? And are you a gamer?
Natsuya Uesugi: I do read a lot of manga, sci-fi and watch anime. I am a little bit of a gamer but if you ask me i definitely need more practice at it. I am a big fan of anime.
To me, anime and manga, particularly manga, can be a great source of inspiration to a writer. So much amazing ideas and variety. Did you find reading manga helpful in stimulating your muse?
Natsuya Uesugi: Manga definitely stimulated the muse. I actually created a grydscaen manga out of one of Rom’s short stories in grydscaen: tribute. Definitely an inspiration.
Sounds awesome! It’s good to also have the skills to draw it.
Natsuya Uesugi: Helps visualize the characters
Do you think the gay fiction world needs a bit more scifi than is currently being written?
Natsuya Uesugi: I definitely do think that. One of the reasons i made grydscaen gay sci-fi.
I think some sci-fi writers are afraid of gay characters. We need to represent the community and show the full specturm of humanity. Grydscaen focuses on equality and equal rights.
I agree, there certainly needs to be more variety in themes and characters.
What do you do when you’re not studying and writing? And do you still have time for hobbies after all that?
Natsuya Uesugi: I am studying graphic design at art school, working and writing. When not doing that i like to go sky diving. And write poetry.
That is a great combination actually. There is something poetic about tempting fate by jumping out of a plane. How about reading, what type of books do you prefer?
Natsuya Uesugi: Right. I like hard sci-fi, the European classics, Japanese classics, vampire stories but no Twilight.
Oh, most of those I know stay away from sparkling vamps!
Can you please share all the links to your website and social media profiles, so that our readers can find you easily?
Thank you so much for sharing that with us and agreeing to the interview. It was quite interesting to find out about everything that’s behind your stories.
Natsuya Uesugi: Thank you for having me. I appreciate Rainbow Gold Reviews for the opportunity.