Interview 107 – Boston Metaphysical Society Author, Madeleine Holly-Rosing, Part 2

Welcome back for part two of our chat with Madeleine Holly-Rosing, author of Boston Metaphysical Society.

Read Part One here.


Airship Ambassador: Looking behind the scenes, how did you keep the characters relatable yet still grounded in the circumstances of the story?

Madeleine Holly-Rosing: By keeping the relationships believable and real. Storytelling is all about relationships.  I was on a panel last year with Tim Powers and Vernor Vinge at Gaslight Expo and Tim and I had a discussion on finding a truth, rather it be scientific or emotional, to ground your reader into the story. I hadn’t thought about it that way before but I realized when we talked that I had always done it. To explain a bit more, I try to have the science I use to be as accurate as possible. Most of the time I can’t for dramatic reasons, but it does help anchor the story. On the emotional side, I use kernels of my own emotional experiences within my characters to keep them true to life and relatable.

AA: Those both sound like good anchors – define the parameters of the world and characters and then maintain them. What are some of the interesting details within the world of Boston Metaphysical Society?

MHR:  As I mentioned before, trying to make the science accurate whenever possible and keeping Caitlin’s dialect true to her Irish background.


AA: What passage, paragraph, or scene was really memorable to write?

MHR:  Steampunk Rat is by far the most popular of the novellas I’ve written. Here is an excerpt from that:


Jonathan shrank under her gaze, for Beatrice Weldsmore was a fierce and unforgiving woman. Her face was as hard and pinched as her gray hair, which was tied up in various knots by gold buckles and wire.  Her body was wrapped up in much the same way.  She wore a full length bronze satin dress with a high bodice and a black corset laced with pearls. Skeins of copper wire wound their way up and around her dress, like snakes with no end and no beginning.

Unlike Medusa, Beatrice Weldsmore had no fear or regrets when she looked in the mirror.


I go into great detail about what the characters wear which is ironic since I hate to dress up.


AA: Someone is bound to cosplay this, now! It does sound pretty amazing. Was there any scene that you loved but which just didn’t work and had to be cut?

MHR:  Honestly, I don’t remember now. I have so many projects going on that when I have to cut something I do it with brutal efficiency and move on.


AA: What back story haven’t we seen yet?

MHR:  A rather extensive one. This is a huge world.


My novel, Boston Metaphysical Society: A Storm of Secrets, is going off to the editor this month.  The story starts five years before the graphic novel begins and features Samuel Hunter, his wife Elizabeth, and his father-in-law, Jonathan Weldsmore.  It’s about how Samuel, Elizabeth, and Jonathan deal with Elizabeth’s burgeoning psychic abilities while House Weldsmore must battle for its political and financial life.


There is also the House Wars. If you’ve read the graphic novel or the short stories/novellas then you’ll occasionally see references to the House Wars which is my version of the American Civil War.  If you’ve read, Hunter-Killer, the sequential art short story which is part of the trade, that incident was essentially Fort Sumter and the beginning of the House Wars.


My plan is to write a series of novels about the House Wars. My husband has been on me for ages to do it and it looks like I may actually be able to start mapping it out after the Kickstarter is over. In Boston Metaphysical Society: A Storm of Secrets, I introduce the reader to the political system of the Great States of America and how the economy is controlled by families called the Great Houses.  They have divided up the country into regions which they control.


In this alternate history there are two important differences to our own history: 1. The Chinese Exclusionary Act never occurred, and 2. After the war of 1812, our government started taking away civil liberties and overtime gave voting rights exclusively to the Great Houses.

AA: People may guess how #2 works out for the average person. #1 sounds interesting, and would likely have quite an impact as people come to the country. Any key messages in the stories for the readers?

MHR:  That there is strength in diversity.


AA: What was one memorable story while writing?

MHR: The only one I remember is the day my director friend suggested I change my period detective piece into steampunk.  I was sitting on one of the couches in Melnitz Hall at UCLA when he jumped over the back of the couch and plopped down next to me and uttered one word, “Steampunk.” I said, “What?” “Steampunk,” he said. “I think you should set your story in a steampunk world.”


Needless to say, that small event changed my life.

AA: And brought benefits to the rest of us as well! Someone needs to buy him a drink or a box of chocolates. With the Boston Metaphysical Society world being so large and sprawling, what kind of research have you had to do?

MHR:  Yikes! Quite a bit. The original research into this time period was when I was writing a script called Stargazer to submit for the Sloan Fellowship while at UCLA. The story was about Mina Fleming who came to this country from Scotland in the late 1800s pregnant, penniless, and abandoned by her husband. She got a job as a maid in the house of the director of the Harvard Observatory and he noticed her attention to detail. He hired her to become one of his female computers (yes, that is what they were called) and she eventually went on to develop her own stellar classification system as well as discover over 10,000 stars. That script did win the fellowship.


However, the research I did was exhaustive and I had to learn basic astronomy as well as what the details of that time period were. I had piles of books stacked in my office and found microfiche articles located in France from American magazines featuring articles about the female computers.


It prepared me well for Boston Metaphysical Society.


That alone sounds fascinating and worth an hour or two of conversation. Alas, we need to break here in our chat with Madeleine.

Join us for the next part when she talks about the writing process and crowdfunding.

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

Published in: on February 5, 2018 at 9:34 pm  Comments (2)  

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