Welcome back for part two of our talk with Marian Womack, who is the editor, along with James Womack, of THE BEST OF SPANISH STEAMPUNK .
Read part one here
Airship Ambassador: Who are some authors who might not be well known yet in the steampunk community?
Marian Womack: As far as the international steampunk community is concerned, sadly I think that it’s most of them. Translation is always an issue, and very little material is translated from Spanish. But all of them are worth knowing. Jesús Cañadas, Sofía Rhei, Javier Calvo…
AA: Any first time steampunk authors?
MW: Some of the people I approached were well-known speculative fiction authors who had not yet tried their hand at steampunk. Laura Fernández is the key example, she’s a very funny very inventive writer but this was, I think, her first steampunk tale.
AA: Are there any objects or things which play a major role in telling one story or another? Ships, devices, etc?
MW: Steamships crop up a lot, and time machines. Automata are perhaps the most obvious things, but maybe they’re not really ‘things’ per se. A Lovecraftian house that thinks…
AA: Without giving spoilers, what interesting things will readers find along the way?
MW: The rewritings of Spanish contemporary history are I think the most interesting bits, speaking personally: the stories that pick up on Max Aub and Salvador Dalì, for example, or the visions and revisions of the anarchist history of the pre-Civil War period.
AA: Are there any plans for a sequel or spinoff?
MW: Not at the moment. I think we’ve done a lot with Spanish steampunk at the moment, but of course, as the genre carries on developing, maybe five years down the line there’ll be something more to work with.
AA: When people read THE BEST OF SPANISH STEAMPUNK, what would you like for them to take away from the stories and the book as a whole?
MW: How many good writers there are out there; how important it is to read in translation; how travel broadens the mind…
AA: Not everything can make it into any one book – what didn’t make it into the final version?
MW: We tried to be very inclusive (there were times that I felt that the only limitation was the translator’s RSI…), but in order to support inclusivity I tended to prefer shorter stories, and there were a few that fell by the wayside simply for being a little overlong. But I think that everything that I was offered that reached a high enough level of achievement ended up being accepted.
AA: What are some memorable fan reactions to THE BEST OF SPANISH STEAMPUNK which you’ve heard about?
MW: It’s too early to know: I hope to hear stories of fans getting phrases tattooed on their biceps in the near future, but we’re waiting for the fun to start.
AA: A tattoo would certainly indicate a high level of impact, not to mention commitment! What kind of attention has THE BEST OF SPANISH STEAMPUNK generated?
MW: Outside of Spain, we are very happy with the interest being generated: interviews and reviews etc. It goes to show that if books exist in the majority language then they will be read and considered in that language (and maybe that the English-speaking environment, if offered things it can read, is generally very welcoming to them).
AA: You co-own and co-operate your own publishing company, Ediciones Nevsky. How did you get started with it?
MW: We began in 2009, focusing on translating Russian literature into Spanish (even here, with a clear sf focus). It was clear to us that there were a lot of works, some which we considered quite fundamental to Russian culture, which had not been translated into Spanish or bought into Spain. And then things just kind of grew from there. In 2011 we started to publish non-Russian books, and since then the two lines, European fantastic and Russian literature, have grown in parallel.
AA: Aside from publishing entertaining and fiscally successful books, is there a larger mission or vision?
MW: I don’t know how far a publisher can be an educator: it’s our job to provide material to readers rather than to create new readers, but to the extent that we can bring people to think in a different way, not isolated by genre or country, about science fiction or fantasy or Russian literature, then I believe that is our aim.
AA: Every author and publisher I’ve talked with has a different journey to seeing their works in print. What was your publishing experience like for this book?
MW: It was the first serious ebook we’ve published, so there were a lot of firsts in publishing it, but they were in general challenges rather than problems. We were lucky to have online distribution via a small US publisher, so we didn’t need to set up complicated operations abroad sight unseen.
AA: How long did it take to collect and edit THE BEST OF SPANISH STEAMPUNK ? What were the deadlines and publishing schedule like for you?
MW: I think it took about two years from soup to nuts. The translation took a long time, and wasn’t helped by the translator being delayed six months. That’s about normal for a large project for us.
AA: For the aspiring writer, what would you like them to know and do before they send you, or any publisher, their first submission?
MW: For us, that we’re not accepting submissions… No, seriously, we’ve just closed a submissions window for novels, which will keep us busy for a year or so. I think the most important thing, especially clear with my current reading schedule, is that no one in the publishing world is going to be sympathetic if you don’t follow the rules of submission. No one is such a bona fide genius that we’re going to publish their romantic short stories when what we want are Gothic novels.
AA: Have you been on book tours and to conventions? What has that been like, and the fan reaction?
MW: The last two conventions we went to were LonCon and MirCon (Hispacon), but that was before the book was published; we’ll be going to Celsius in Avilés in July and hope to see what the reaction is like there. As far as general reactions to the project are concerned, everything is very positive: people are happy that we’re putting in the effort to translate these stories and spread the word.
We’ll break here in talking with Marian.
Join us for the conclusion as she talks about life, balance, and some personal thoughts.
Keep up to date with Marian’s latest news on her twitter feed.
Also, check out her page at The Steampunk Museum.