Writing Excuses

Hey, sorry it’s been so long since I’ve blogged. I plead tour exhaustion. But here are things for you to listen to and look upon!

For the listening, while on tour I did two long interviews with Writing Excuses, a weekly podcast on the craft of writing.

The first interview is appropriate to the Leviathan series, because it’s all about the visual components of writing. Maps, diagrams, character sketches, floor plans, and full-blown illustrations—all those things writers create to help them visualize the world of their books. (And for those of you who are visual learners, or who hate the sound of my voice, here’s the transcript.)

The second interview is more generally about steampunk, the subgenre of which I am now the resident expert/bore (but not high priestess, waah). Listen here or check out the transcript.

And now for things to look at. As I’ve toured, I’ve talked a lot about the books that inspired me to make Leviathan series illustrated: the 1910s-30s teen novels that had cool pictures in them. But I didn’t make a point of showing examples to my audiences, and I haven’t put any here on my blog. This seems like an oversight.

So here from my research bookshelf, recorded by my iPhone with craptastic lighting, are a couple of these inspirations.

First is A Trip to Mars, both the cover and an interior illustration:



And here’s the cover and illustration from the glorious “boy’s own adventure,” A Trip to Mars.



Note the similarities and differences from Keith’s work. Some of the stiffness of Edwardian illustration is visible in these, and the caption on A Trip to Mars could totally go in Leviathan. The spilling off the frame isn’t present here, and these are in color, which is interesting. But the spirit of them is, I think, the same.

Also, you can see that Keith is much better than these old-fashioned dudes. Seriously.

But I will admit that, whether they’re pen names or not, Captain F.S. Brereton and Fenton Ash are the most awesome author names in history. Evar.

Okay, I’m about to transit hemispheres, so there may be another long pause in my blogging. But thanks for dropping by, and thanks again to all of you who made my tour so much fun.

Ciao for now.

34 thoughts on “Writing Excuses

  1. Glad to here from you again(:

    Neat pictures. I agree, Keith is better. But the pictures are still cool. I love the “He fell backwards upon the floor.” Not very exciting. You have to wonder why that is what he decided to illustrate.

  2. Those are great pen names! If you had to write under a pseudonym, what would you go by? Or perhaps that’s classified… who knows, you could already be writing under a dozen secret pseudonyms! I think if I had to pick one (besides Amandasaurus Rex – surprise, I’m not actually named after a dinosaur), I would go with Mandarin Blue.

  3. That book looks kinda interesting, actually. Also, you’re right. Keith’s art is much better, but I do see how it’s similar. That’s cool. I went to your show in Miami (I’m the one with the polymath tattoo. ;)) and it’s cool to see some of the books with the illustrations like you were talking about. =D
    @Amanda Maybe he DOES have a pseudonym! And he writes all sorts of books we don’t know about! =O lolno, that would be funny though.

  4. That’s cool, and Keith’s art is totally better, but analogous too! I agree, those names are awesome! Pen names are fun, but it’s also fun to actually know who the authors are. A child-author could have a pen name, and accidentaly write it on the homework given to them by their strictest teacher! That would suck. Agh!

  5. Hi Scott, I really enjoyed your Writing Excuses podcast, although it’s always frustrating to me that the episodes are so short! I enjoyed hearing about why you wanted illustrations in the first place and how it shaped your writing. I’d be interested to know whether the financial commitment to illustrations changed your contract i.e. clearly the publisher had to pay someone else as well as you. I think you sold more books because of it but I wondered if that was taken into account.
    Thanks for all you do, Joanna

  6. Hi Scott,

    My girls and I loved seeing you in Birmingham! Enjoy your summer down under.

    That first airship reminds me a lot of the ship on “Flight of the Navigator”! I guess I know now where they might have gotten their inspiration. lol Does anybody else think it looks like the ship? They totally ripped it off!


  7. Keith’s really good, but I do think that those old illustartions are beautiful. Lovely colors that blend nicely together.

  8. yay, Scott-la’s back!!! 😀 merry early christmas!!!! and pretty please for a christmas gift for all of the uglies fans you love so very dearly could you *please* post some uglies movie news, scott-la? pleeeeeeeease???? you can’t resist the puppy-dog face!!!
    *does puppy-dog face*
    PLEASE SCOTT-LA???????!!!!!!! PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    as you can see im sorta desperate. i havent heard anything about the uglies movie since 2008. freakin 2008!!!!!! that’s like almost three years ago. i need updates!!!!! PLEASE. 🙂 BECAUSE UR AWESOME, YOU’LL POST AN UPDATE…RIGHT?

  9. hehehe i like how Scott-la is sad that he isnt the ‘high priestess’ of steampunk. i also like that the gal who IS has Scott’s blurb on her cover. i ALSO like that her last name is Priest, and therefore it is only logical that she be the high priestess.


    Hannah-la you completely sound EXACTLY like i used to! seriously its creepy! hehe just read your comment and thought i should point that out.

    -Lizzy-wa OUT! 😀

  10. Thank you, Mr Westerfeld, as your books Leviathan and Behemoth are two major things that have inspired me to start writing.

    God bless you!!

  11. Thank you, Mr Westerfeld, as your books Leviathan and Behemoth are two major things that have inspired me to start writing.

    God bless you!! And thanks for your genius and the inspiration!!!!

  12. If you’re still on the fence: grab your favorite earphones, head down to a Best Buy and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one sounds better to you, and which interface makes you smile more. Then you’ll know which is right for you.

  13. hi Scott i’m a big fan of your books my favorite is the ugly series. how did u come up with this amazing series?


    P.S hope u e-mail me soon

  14. I’m afraid I must disagree with you… the best author name evar is Cordwainer Smith.

    Yes. This is the truth.

  15. your are like my FAVORITE author!!!!!the uglies series is the BEST!!!! keep writing! Stay awsome!
    P.s.is there another book after Specials?

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  20. Scott, I am writing a huge report on you, and i was wandering what your motivations were to originally start writing, and what inspirers you to write?

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