Authors in Orbit: Josiah Bancroft introduces his debut novel, Senlin Ascends



Hi, my name is Josiah Bancroft, and I'm the author of Senlin Ascends. Senlin Ascends is about the greatest structure
the world's ever known. To this Tower, a small-town headmaster comes with his wife on their honeymoon. No sooner does he arrive than
he loses her in the crowd, and he must search for her through the Tower. Each level of the Tower is a different ringdom. Each ringdom is a different culture,
a different world, each with its own customs, its own perils and dangers, and he has to navigate these perils as he searches for his wife. The first fantasy novel that I remember reading that had a real impact on me as a writer, a reader, as a kid, was The Hobbit. My parents had it on vinyl, and I listened to it first be read, and then when I was old enough to have the patience and diligence to sit down and read, I sat down and just devoured it. I loved every moment of it. I loved that sense of adventure; I loved that sense of peril; the creativity of the world, the magic, and all the different kinds of mythical characters and mythical creatures
that show up. So the authors that inspired me the most, especially early on, would be C. S. Lewis, Tolkien, and Bradbury. I read everything I could get my hands on
of those authors. Especially, like, very early on, I remember reading Something Wicked
This Way Comes by Bradbury, and the combination of horror and the fantastic I just found to be very entertaining, and he certainly became very influential
in how I write today. C. S. Lewis taught me a lot about not just characterizations and how to create
compelling characters, but the intoxicating experience of being transported to another world, and that's something that I began to emulate
almost immediately. When I finished reading The Hobbit and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and Something Wicked This Way Comes, I decided right then that
I had to start writing novels. When I was very young,
I really wanted to be a truck driver. I thought that that was
the coolest job in the world. There's nothing quite like being
in control of a giant machine. I think that if I couldn't be a truck driver, the next best thing was going to be an author, so I started writing books,
like I said, very young. It's something I never quit, and so all throughout grade school and high school, I was writing short stories, poetry, trying to figure out what my genre would be. In high school, I mostly wrote science fiction
short stories, which were all dreadful and very significant in their content. The character who is most like me has to be Thomas Senlin. We are both generally uncomfortable in our skin, have backgrounds in teaching. We are both a little bit too smart for our own good. We're both tall. Senlin is somebody I understand because he is somebody who finds the world to be both fascinating and filled with many things that he wants to know but also at the same time a little terrifying, and that's something I can really relate to. I love adventure, I love new experiences, and I would like to experience them from the comfort of my home. My favorite character to write is Finn Goll. He is a fun character because he is sardonic and quick-witted. He is disenchanted with the Tower, but he is still able to make a very good living off of it, and so he is somebody who has proven to be very clever, and it's fun to write clever characters. At the same time, he is a family man, so he has his own sense of scruples, his own morals, which are particular to him, and maybe not treasured by everyone else. The inspiration for the ringdoms come from the books that have been important to me, the books that I've read that have made a mark on me. So, Kafka, his book The Trial, and Camus' The Plague. Italo Calvino wrote a book called Invisible Cities, which was instrumental in the genesis of the Tower. If you haven't read it, Invisible Cities is an imaginary travelogue, a diary of impossible places that could never exist. Each ringdom is in some way a gate to limit the access of the people who flock to the Tower from the rest of the country, so the lower the ringdom is, the more open it is
to the country, and the more often it's plagued by
crime and poverty and suffering. Probably my favorite ringdom would be the Baths. The Baths is this fabulous destination that has all these hot steam baths, this spa, this lovely shoreline, and as pretty as it is, which is the fascinating part, it's also a very dangerous place,
especially for outsiders, because it's so lulling, it's so lovely, it's so peaceful, it's so comforting, people end up kind of forgetting themselves. They spend all their money, and they get stuck. The thing that I find most interesting about the book is that the Tower embodies so much of the world. It's so diverse, it's so strange, it's so changing, it's so insular in some ways, but also very expansive. I wanted to write a world that I would never
get bored of, and as a writer, I find it very easy to get bored, so my favorite part of writing this series is discovering the new levels, the new ringdoms of the Tower, and finding out what they're about.

3 thoughts on “Authors in Orbit: Josiah Bancroft introduces his debut novel, Senlin Ascends

  1. This is the best book I've read in years. I'm so glad Orbit picked up this series, and I can't wait for books 3 and 4!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *