Interview #106 – Author Kara Jorgensen

This week we are talking with Kara Jorgensen, author of The Ingenious Mechanical Devices series, which includes The Earl of Brass, The Gentleman Devil, The Earl and the Artificer, Dead Magic, and Selkie Cove. There’s also a short story series including An Oxford Holiday, and The Errant Earl.


Airship Ambassador: Hi Kara, welcome to the airship!

Kara Jorgensen: Thank you for hosting me.

AA: You have quite an established bibliography, and now, your latest book, Selkie Cove, has been released. Tell us a bit about the world they are all set in.

KJ: The Ingenious Mechanical Devices series takes place in an anachronistic version of England (and beyond) in the late 1890s. This world has more electricity and steam power than the Victorians actually had, so you see dirigibles, steam-powered cars that have batteries to power the boilers, water-powered machines, and many more. The other big difference from Victorian England is the presence of magic and magical creatures. All of these are hidden from the general public, wouldn’t want another witch hunt on our hands or the poor creatures hunted to extinction.


AA: All of those details really set the mood and feel of the world and story for me. What made you use steampunk as the aesthetic and feel for this series?

KJ: When I was in high school, I received an anthology of steampunk stories. I thought the book would be right up my alley since it mixed the Victorian Era, which I already was familiar with due to my love of Sherlock Holmes, with fantastical elements and adventure. As I started to read these stories, I was disappointed. It wasn’t that the writing was bad or that there wasn’t a good variety of stories, but none of them really hit the spot for me. I liked the aesthetic and how the genre had a darkness to it while at the same time holding out hope for a better future. I started writing my own story in the genre soon after, and that’s when the first incarnation of The Earl of Brass was conceived. My main character would be disabled, and it became clear that steampunk would give him away to compensate for his disability that other genres wouldn’t allow.

AA: The various steampunk solutions and opportunities which are present in the stories are fairly integral to the storyline, too. it’s not just an accessory. How does Ingenious Mechanical Devices bring your vision of steampunk to life, and what does it add to the existing works on reader’s shelves?

KJ: It’s hard to say what my vision of steampunk is as I see it evolve with each book. My vision for steampunk is a bit of a revision of history where we do better than we did in the actual Victorian Era and the world is a place of limitless possibilities where the good guys manage to win (most of the time). Even when there are dark things in the world, there is light and good people willing to shine it. It sounds sappy, but I’m an optimist. In terms of the steampunk canon, I think my books add a nice balance of darkness in the Gothic or arcane nature of the some of the stories against the lightness of the romances and the way nature is utilized.


AA: I would agree with that balance – darkness may create adversity and light may create solutions. What was the starting point for creating this series?

KJ: The initial idea I had for The Earl of Brass was the crash of the Hindenburg. I remember watching a documentary and seeing the moment the zeppelin went up in flames and crashed to the ground. All I could think was What if someone survived that? Of course, they might be horribly burned or scarred, and that’s when Eilian’s character began to take shape, and his mechanical prosthesis was a natural progression. The series gradually built around the characters in book one and those who later appeared in book two. They’re all related in some way, and the series sprung from their needs and problems.

AA: I was captivated the first book, The Earl of Brass, right from the start. Admittedly, the cover grabbed my attention, and the title was pretty good, but it was the opening scene which really locked me in. Without giving too much away, airship travel in steampunk stories, and real life, honestly, has that romantic, elegant feel to it. While the first chapter starts off that way, we quickly see the, shall we say, grittier side of airship reality. How did that whole scene come together?

KJ:  As I mentioned earlier, I saw a documentary of the Hindenburg disaster. It sounds terrible to talk about aesthetics when so many people died, but a fiery crash is an attention-grabber. In the opening scene, I tried to portray that gilded and polished Victorian veneer with the main character openly mocking it for what it is, a veneer. We soon see how quickly that veneer is destroyed when the dirigible runs into trouble, along with our main character. I used the Hindenburg as a model for the incident, and I figured tossing my character into trouble by the end of the first chapter is a great way to start a story.


We’ll break here in chatting with Kara.

Keep up to date with Kara’s latest news on her website and Twitter.

You can support Kara and our community by getting your copies of Ingenious Mechanical Devices here.

Also, check out Kara’s exhibit page at The Steampunk Museum.

Published in: on October 8, 2017 at 3:27 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Reblogged this on Kara Jorgensen and commented:
    Check out my interview with the Airship Ambassador!

  2. […] Read Part One here. […]

  3. […] Read Part One here. […]

  4. […] Read Part One here. […]

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