Interview with author Lev AC Rosen, Part 3

Welcome back for the conclusion of our talk with Lev AC Rosen, author of All Men of Genius.

Read Part One here.

Read Part Two here.


Airship Ambassador: Do you get to talk much with other writers and artists to compare notes, have constructive critique reviews, and brainstorm new ideas?

Lev AC Rosen: Yes – I’m part of a writing group. We get together every other week and critique each others work. It’s great for keeping you writing and for getting steady feedback. I think it’s a must for any serious writer.


AA: How is New York, one of the major centers of publishing, for writing? Does location matter for resources, access, publicity, etc

LR: Not really. I know people think New York is where all the gatekeepers are – but agents and editors communicate primarily by email and phone. You don’t need to see them. Is it nice to be able to meet an agent or editor in person before signing with them? Sure, but it’s not a requirement. And even if you do live in the city, there may not be time to meet them. That said, it’s a great place to meet other writers and go to lots of readings.


AA: Most of the authors I’ve talked with have some type of day job and that writing is their other job. What has that situation been for you and how has it helped/hindered begin a published writer?

LR: I teach creative writing. They go hand in hand – being able to answer my students questions lets me think about my own work in new ways.


AA: Looking beyond steampunk, writing and working, what other interests and topics fill your time?

LR: So so many: noir, screwball comedy, spy stuff, hippos (my husband and I love hippos), YA and Middlegrade books, I watch way too much TV, and we got a kitten recently who pretty much takes up all of our time. Which is understandable, I think.


AA: How do those interests influence your work?

LR: Well, the kitten makes it a lot harder. But I’m working on a bunch of stuff that relates to my interests. I think when you’re fascinated by something, you set out to explore it in writing, which is why my books jump around a lot. I have a middlegrade book – Woundabout – coming out in June with some steampunk influence and some noir and some spy stuff and a cute capybara, which isn’t the same as a kitten, but which also isn’t as different as you might think.


AA: Quick random questions – what is your favorite dinner, painting, and historical figure?

LR: Um, well, pasta, pretty much any sort of vegetarian pasta. Painting changes all the time, but I love Tamara De Lempicka’s portrait of Madame Allan Bott. Historical Figure also changes a lot, but lately I’ve been fascinated with Caterina Sforza. I have a perpetual obsession with Lauren Bacall.


AA: Any final thoughts to share with our readers

LR: Well, thank you, for reading and such, and if you have any questions, I try to answer everything asked of me on twitter or tumblr or my blog (that was pretty shameless). And thank you, Kevin, for interviewing me. It’s been fun!


Thanks for joining us, Lev!

Get your copy of All Men of Genius today

Published in: on July 10, 2014 at 8:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Interview with author Lev AC Rosen, Part 2

Welcome back for part two in our talk with Lev AC Rosen, author of All Men of Genius.

Read Part One here.


Airship Ambassador: How did elements of your own life make their way into the story?

Lev AC Rosen: Every character is a reflection of me – even the nasty ones. I think that holds true for every writer, though. More specifically, I’m queer, like Ashton, and Jewish, like Miriam, and I think those are important things to talk about in Victorian London – the disenfranchised. In fact, one of my favorite moments in the book, and one that feels a lot like me critiquing myself, is when Fiona tells Violet that what she’s doing is a boon for rich, smart girls everywhere – the idea that Violet is fighting for acceptance based on her sex… but there are people who have a lot more to prove than she does.


AA: One thing you’ve mentioned in other reviews and interviews is that this is not a YA book, although one would understand why people would think that. What have people’s reactions been when they knew that, versus those who didn’t?

LR: Well, those who don’t know often send me emails saying that my book is inappropriate for children. I think it’s fine for high schoolers, generally, but YA can sometimes reach younger than that, and I don’t think the parent of a 7th grader wants their kids reading about vibrators. In fact, I’m fairly sure of it, because of those emails.


AA: What kind of backstory is there for All Men of Genius which didn’t make it into the final book?

LR: I have some deleted scenes up on my website, but you have to earn the passwords – maybe you can figure them out, though. But I can tell you, in brief, two of them were alternate versions of each other – a scene which was just totally cut by the end – wherein Jack pulls a prank. One with bees, and one with bunnies. I just felt like Jack hadn’t earned his reputation as a prankster. My editor disagreed, and once we cut the scene, everything worked much better. The other two scenes were Fiona based. I love Fiona, but these two scenes made her seem borderline insane, one where she climbed down a chimney, and another where she plays with matches. They weren’t really moving the plot forward, and while they were sort of funny, they were also, like I said, insane. And Fiona is strange, but not a pyromaniac.


AA: Are there any plans for a sequel or spinoff?

LR: Not right now. I mean, I wouldn’t rule it out, I love the world, I have ideas, but it’s not my focus right now.


AA: When readers finish the book, what would you like for them to take away from the story and the characters that they could apply to their own lives?

LR: I’d like them to take away a certain open-mindedness – the idea that everyone has a story which maybe you can’t see and is making them who they are at the moment. Also the idea that not everyone is equal and that if you want something you have to fight for it.


AA: What are some memorable fan reactions to All Men of Genius which you’ve heard about?

LR: There’s been a lot of great fan art. I try to post it all on my blog or tumblr or twitter. That’s pretty exciting. And I’ve been told that there’s some slash fanfiction involving Dr. Who, which is sort of beyond my wildest dreams.


AA: If you weren’t an author, what else would you be doing now?

LR: Architect, maybe, if I were better at math.


AA: What do you do to keep a balance between book, art, and tour life, and the rest of your life?

LR: I keep a fairly precise schedule – right down to the day. I have a daily to-do list, which has stuff like “write scene with motorcycle” or whatever, right alongside “groceries” and “interview with Airship Ambassador.” Just keeping organized, and making sure you know what you can accomplish in a day – that’s the important part. That, and keeping to it.


This is the end of part two in our chat with Lev AC Rosen.

Join us next time for the conclusion when Lev talks about his other interests and influences.

Get your copy of All Men of Genius today

Published in: on July 9, 2014 at 8:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Interview with author Lev AC Rosen

This week we are talking with Lev AC Rosen, author of All Men of Genius.


Airship Ambassador: Hi Lev, thanks for joining us to chat.

Lev AC Rosen: Thanks for having me!


AA: Even before Steampunk Scholar Mike Perschon’s review of your book, I was excited to read it. Would you share with readers what is it about?

LR: Sure! All Men of Genius is inspired by both The Importance of Being Earnest and 12th Night – it’s about Violet Adams, a young scientist in Victorian England, who wants to go to the men-only Illyria Academy – essentially Hogwarts for Mad Scientists. So she disguises herself as her twin brother and gets in. Hijynx, romance, talking rabbits and killer robots ensue.


AA: What was the motivation for creating All Men of Genius? How did the initial idea develop?

LR: I’ve always loved the aesthetics of steampunk – for me that comes from videogames – I grew up playing all the old SNES final fantasy games, and I loved those. I always wanted to write something steampunk, but I knew that I wasn’t great at big plots – so I stole some. The words are almost entirely my own, and I think I threw in enough twists its pretty interesting, but in many ways the book is an homage to a lot things: Wilde, Shakespeare, classic science fiction – but hopefully with a fairly modern perspective on a lot of things like gender and sexuality.


AA: The storyline seems straightforward but there are so many great structures which create some fun and enjoyable tension in it – relationships, questioning gender and roles, and general rousing activity – what were your influences in creating the story structure and tone?

LR: I always try to have a visual image for the structure of the book I’m writing. In this case, it was a Rube Goldberg Machine. I love the idea of one wacky moment leading to another to another – and while what all those moments accomplished in the end wasn’t particularly new, watching them accomplish it was still a lot of fun.


AA: Why set this story in a steampunk world?

LR: Well, I started out wanting to write something steampunk, so that was really the starting idea. I’m not sure what it would look like without steampunk. I suppose it could have been a more magical Victorian London, or anywhere else, really, but steampunk is where I started.


AA: What kind of research, and then balance, went into creating the All Men of Genius world?

LR: I had studied Victorian history and lit in college, and even before that really – my mother studied victorian literature, too. So, I knew a lot of the background I wanted to focus on, but I did need to research how the education system worked, and some of the technical fashion terms – my editor insisted on more fashion description. I also read up on what they thought the future of science would bring. That was really important to me – that the science feel like what Victorians thought the science of the future would bring – not modern science, but in brass.


AA: What elements did you include so readers could feel the world’s history?

LR: I think the description of London itself, very polluted, was part of it, but I also threw in plenty of historical figures – Ada Byron, Matthias Forney, the Queen – and had discussions of plenty more. This is an odd question, because I feel as though every word has to make the book feel historical, so on some level, the answer is “everything.” But more specifically, it was the historical figures, and some of the dates – the faire, or the conference in America Violet and Ashton’s dad is heading off for at the beginning of the book.


This is the end of part one in our chat with Lev AC Rosen.

Join us next time when Lev talks about the characters, reviews and backstory.

Get your copy of All Men of Genius today


Published in: on July 6, 2014 at 4:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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