The following is an interview with Peter Tieryas regarding the upcoming release of his latest novel, Mecha Samurai Empire, from Penguin Random House. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Tieryas about the inspiration behind the novel, his creative process and inspirations, what he hopes that readers will take away from the book, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Mecha Samurai Empire! Given that the novel is set within the world of your previous novel, United States of Japan, what can you tell us about the premise of this new work, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Peter Tieryas: Thank you very much! The new standalone book focuses on the mecha wars with the Nazis and follows young cadet Mac on his journey to become a mecha pilot. I was inspired by a lot of things, but principally by my desire to explore more of the world of USJ and to tell a tale focused on the mechas. What would it be like to become a pilot, study to drive one of the huge machines, and actually go to war in one.
BD: Do you feel that this new book serves as a solid jumping-on point for new readers?
PT: Absolutely. The book is a total standalone, similar to the way Final Fantasy games and the Culture books all are complete within themselves (though there are nods to the earlier book). It has already released in Japan, and multiple readers and reviewers have, fortunately, commented that this is actually a better starting point than USJ. I knew the story arc of the main protagonists in USJ were complete, so I was glad to get to revisit the world from the perspective of these cadets.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in revisiting and expanding the world of United States of Japan, and do you have plans to further expand the world, either in future novels or other entertainment mediums?
PT: There were aspects I really liked about USJ, and just as many I felt dissatisfied with. The new book let me build on the foundation I’d created before, kind of like LEGOs if they were more violent and graphic in nature. Of the three novels I’ve written, Mecha Samurai Empire felt the easiest, as it just poured out of me. With the rules generally set up, it gave me more room to experiment and tell the story I felt I wanted to share. And thanks for asking about future novels! I’m under contract for one more book, which will also be a standalone focusing on a different set of characters. I’m almost finished with the first draft, though that’s just the beginning for more as I often spend more time editing than writing itself!
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from your work?
PT: I hope they’d learn more about the Pacific side of WWII, or at the least ask questions about it, which was why I began this project in the first place. (In the US, I’ve found many people’s familiarity with WWII generally focuses on the European front.) I also hope they enjoy the book and ask questions about war, human nature, friendship, culture, and what the world would be like if this alternate history were real.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
PT: I’ve mainly been focused on the next book in the series! It’s a lot of fun taking the the universe in a completely different direction and finding new areas to explore and different fields to investigate.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Mecha Samurai Empire?