Interview 107 – Boston Metaphysical Society Author, Madeleine Holly-Rosing

This week we are talking with Madeleine Holly-Rosing, author of Boston Metaphysical Society.


Airship Ambassador: Hi Madeleine! We’ve been talking for years and it’s great to finally do this interview with you!

Madeleine Holly-Rosing: I know. This is terrific. Thank you for taking the time to do the interview.

AA: Readers may know you from your previous works in the Boston Metaphysical Society series, including a prose anthology called Boston Metaphysical Society: Prelude. Now, you are launching a kickstarter for the next installment. What is the Boston Metaphysical Society series and world about and what can you tease us with for this next book?

MHR:  The original series six issue mini-series is about an ex-Pinkerton detective, a spirit photographer, and a genius scientist who battle supernatural forces in late 1800s Boston. The complete series is in trade paperback now which includes a ten page bonus story called, Hunter-Killer. It features a crew of a small prototype airship that is forced into battle.


The new book, The Scourge of the Mechanical Men, is a standalone continuation of the series featuring Granville Woods and Nikola Tesla. They are confronted with a disease that is turning men into machines. Gwynn Tavares is doing the art and it looks amazing. It will launch on Kickstarter on Jan. 31.

AA: This is quite the run of work and material. At the beginning, why choose steampunk as the aesthetic and feel?

MHR:  It was by accident – almost. I had written BMS as a TV Pilot as a graduate student at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television in screenwriting and was developing a period detective show. A friend in class suggested I set it in a steampunk world. I knew about steampunk, but not a lot. So I did my research and decided he was right. It also was a wonderful mix of two of my favorite things: history and science fiction.


AA: It’s a good mix J How does Boston Metaphysical Society express your vision of steampunk, and what does it add to the existing works in the genre?

MHR: There are a lot of wonderful steampunk novels and comics out there. Each with their own unique take, but at the time I wrote this I found many of them focused on romance, swashbuckling adventure and were based in Victorian England. (Obviously there are exceptions to this. And by the way, I love a good steampunk swashbuckling romance.) When I adapted my TV Pilot into the six issue graphic novel mini-series, no other work that I knew of was rooted in American culture (except for Cheri Priest’s books) and I wanted to explore that. BMS is also character driven and some steampunk comics and short stories I’ve read focus on the gadgets and not the people. (Unless the gadget is a sentient automaton, then that’s a story.)  It’s interesting, but BMS has often been called steampunkish and I’m okay with that.


AA: Was there a subsequent “What if…” as the pilot was being adapted?

MHR: It’s always been, “Before Mulder and Scully, there was Hunter and O’Sullivan.” So obviously, my love of The X-Files has been an influence as well as my love of history and science fiction.

AA: Ahhh, the X-Files! I watched every episode religiously, always wondering what bizarre new thing would come their way. What are the key themes in the various chapters and other books?

MHR:  I deal with racism, sexism, and classism in all of my books to some degree. But the main thread is how three very diverse people use their individual strengths to solve a problem.


AA: What can you share with us about the main characters, detective Samuel Hunter, medium Andrew O’Sullivan, and scientist Granville Woods?

MHR: Each of the characters is obsessed with something. Samuel is obsessed with killing the thing that murdered his wife. Caitlin is obsessed with continuing her father’s legacy, and Granville is obsessed with finding truth through science.


AA: Is that the same Granville Woods of our own history, or based on him?

MHR: Yes, I use the Granville Woods from our own history. It is obviously a fictional version as the real one lived in Ohio and worked on railroad switching technology until he moved to New York and went into business with his brother, Lyates. And yes, Thomas Edison challenged him in court on two occasions, but the patent was awarded to Woods. More on that here:


I was telling this story to a young lady while exhibiting at San Diego Comic Con a few years ago when she stopped me and said she knew all about it. Apparently, she was a law student and one of her professors was into historical legal briefs and had read the case in the National Archives. What was interesting is that this case set the stage for precedent in regards to the copyright and patent law we know today. So every independent creator in that huge room had Granville in part to thank for their legal protections. And he was my guy!!

AA: That is so cool! Both the legal challenge and win, and the historical precedent. Do they change throughout the story, or does the world change around them, instead?

MHR: Samuel and Caitlin definitely change, but how would be a spoiler. And let’s just say Granville, decides not to take Edison’s BS anymore.


AA: HA! I’m sure readers will enjoy that! Without too many spoilers, what can you share about the secret organization referred to as B.E.T.H.?

MHR: Hahaha. No secret there. B.E.T.H. stands for Bell, Edison, Tesla, and Houdini. Though none of them really get along, they band together to try and stop an even bigger threat than their own egos.


We’re just getting started but we’ll break here in our chat with Madeleine.

Join us for the next part when she talks about some of the details behind the scenes.

Until then, keep up to date with news on the Boston Metaphysical website, and get your copy to read here.

Published in: on February 4, 2018 at 8:32 pm  Comments (3)  

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