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.
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