As much as people love giant robots, no one worships them as if they were gods. Well, not in our reality, anyway. But they do in the world of Zoe Hana Mikuta’s young adult cyberpunk / dustpunk sci-fi novel Gearbreakers, and that was kind of the problem. A problem so big, in fact, that it didn’t just fit into one book. Hence we have Godslayers (hardcover, Kindle, audiobook), the second half to Mikuta’s epic duology. In the following email interview, Mikuta explains what inspired and influenced this second half.
Photo Credit: Zoe Hana Mikuta
For those who didn’t read the first book, Gearbreakers, or the interview we did about it, what is that book about, and when and where does it take place?
Gearbreakers takes place in a very far future, where the world is basically a nuclear fried spot that the nation of Godolia controls with two-hundred-foot mechas, called Windups, that are worshipped as deities (religion makes it easier to gather support of the masses, after all). The Gearbreakers are a renegade sect that seek to destroy the Windups from the inside out for all the havoc they wreak. Eris is among the fiercest of the Gearbreakers, but she meets Sona, a mecha pilot, and finds that they have shared loyalties. They have to get over their fear of one another for a chance to destroy Godolia once and for all.
And then for those who have read Gearbreakers, and thus can ignore me writing SPOILER WARNING in all-caps, what is Godslayers about, and how does it connect to Gearbreakers?
Godslayers starts with Eris and Sona separated, both captured in Godolia after the Archangel plan left one remaining Zenith, Enyo. Enyo has brainwashed Sona through a process called “corruption,” making her believe the Eris and the Gearbreakers actually corrupted her, forced her into the Archangel plan, and are her mortal enemies. The book kicks off with Eris faced with her own execution…at Sona’s hand.
When in the process of writing Gearbreakers did you come up with the idea for Godslayers, and what inspired its specific plot?
I knew I didn’t want Gearbreakers to be a stand-alone, so I knew going into drafting in my debut that something like Godslayers might come to exist (yay!). I knew I wanted to expand the world (into the mountain-cities), the implications of the religions, and I wanted a corruption arc. And throw a masquerade ball in there, just for fun, with one brutal reveal. I feel like this story following Gearbreakers really has the sense of a grand showdown, which is something I love in my action media.
In the previous interview we did about Gearbreakers, we talked about it being a cyberpunk / dustpunk sci-fi novel. Would you say the same about Godslayers?
I would say I’m staying in the same cyberpunk / dustpunk vein, but there’s definitely more of a cityscape involved in Godslayers.
Gearbreakers was also classified as a young adult novel. Do you think it is?
Yes, it’s a young adult sci-fi. I think for age genres, something that’s not made clear enough is that it’s always along the lines of a certain age and up. I feel like young adult novels have characters going through finding themselves and who they want to be in the world, and messing up a lot while trying to figure it all out, which is something that can strike a chord in older ages, too.
So, are there any writers or stories that had an influence on Godslayers but not on Gearbreakers?
Joan He’s The Ones We’re Meant To Find, and Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar’s This Is How You Lose The Time War — both crazy sci-fi books I read during drafting Godslayers that made me go, “I want to write like that.”
How about non-literary influences; was Godslayers influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games?
I won’t shut up about the Borderlands games, of course. I feel like they have a similar tone and feel as Godslayers, and definitely I could say the same for Gearbreakers (if I haven’t already).
As we’ve been discussing, Gearbreakers and Godslayers form a duology. Do you think people should read them back-to-back? Or not?
Just depends on the kind of reader you are. Gearbreakers has a very nasty cliffhanger at the end, so there’s been people who have been waiting a whole year to have some relief of that, but some people like that angst. It just depends if you need answers right away. I totally get that.
Though I will say there’s about a three-month time jump between the end of the first book and the start of the second.
Some people who write duologies will later expand upon them with sequels or prequels or side stories. Are you planning to do that as well?
I’d love to do some kind of spin-off with the side characters in Eris’s crew. I love them to death. But nothing’s set in stone yet; just something I daydream about.
One big thing that changed between when we did the Gearbreakers interview and now is that Gearbreakers — and, I assume, Godslayers as well — has been optioned by producer Aaron Magnani, who produced the movie The Last Word. Aside from the deal being made, is there anything you can tell us about it?
Nothing I can say yet, but finger’s crossed. Don Murphy, who is a producer for the Transformers franchise, has also been put as a producer of Gearbreakers, so I’m super excited to see where that goes.
And how often have you said to Aaron, “Yeah, yeah, that’s cool. But have you talked to any video game companies about making a game?”
Not often, since I don’t think that’s his field. I will however claw at any opportunity to make that happen when it comes along.
This won’t happen, but if Aaron or Don asked your advice about casting, what would you tell him? And I’m not asking who you want to play Eris and Sona, but rather what they should keep in mind when looking for those actors.
I have a great need for Eris to be Korean and Sona to be half Korean, since it was such an important aspect for me to put into Gearbreakers and Godslayers. Hollywood often thinks Asian are interchangeable, though, so I might have to be satisfied with general AAPI casting. I’d be happy for that kind of diversity, honestly. In a parallel universe where Aaron would allow Eris and Sona to be white girls, I won’t be very quiet about it.
So, is there anything else you think people should know about Godslayers?
I believe in happy endings. You just have to get to the ending…
Finally, if someone enjoys Gearbreakers and Godslayers, what sci-fi duology of someone else’s would you suggest they read next?
Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao (mechas!), sequel to come soon!