Interview 110, Lord Bobbins and the Romanian Ruckus author, Sean Patrick Little

This week we are talking with Sean Patrick Little, author of Lord Bobbins and the Romanian Ruckus.


Airship Ambassador: Hi Sean, it’s great to catch up with again after Teslacon 2017.

Sean Patrick Little: Thanks for having me.


AA: Readers may know you from your previous work, including After Everyone Died, The Centurion: The Balance of the Soul War, and The Bride Price. Now, your latest book is available. What is Lord Bobbins and the Romanian Ruckus about?

SPL: It is a tie-in novel for the TeslaCon Steampunk Convention held every year in Madison, Wisconsin. Basically, it’s something of a prequel to the storyline the convention established, set outside of the convention story, but still loosely tied into it. In the novel, Lord Bobbins has taken over a Romanian castle next to a remote Carpathian Mountain town. There are some strange goings-on in the village, and Bobbins needs a man who can investigate the happenings and put an end to them so the village can be made into a tourist destination. Enter, Nicodemus Clarke. Clarke is a former US Army sniper and a former French Foreign Legionnaire who is just looking to retire from the adventuring life. Bobbins makes him an offer he can’t refuse, so he goes to Romania for what he thinks will be his final job.

AA: This was quite the collaboration between you and Eric Larson, the organizer of the Teslacon. Can you share with us how that all came about and what the process was during writing the book?

SPL: Well, I have known Eric for almost 8 years now. We met when we were both teaching at Madison Media Institute. The year we met was the first year of TeslaCon. I helped Eric out here and there, proofreading scripts for him and doing some editing. He kept telling me that I needed to write a TeslaCon novel. I tried a few times over the next few years. I was trying to tell a story where Bobbins was the main character, but I just couldn’t do it. Eric really owns that character, and the character is very contrary to my own personal mindset.

Each time I tried to write a Bobbins story, it just wasn’t working. It took me time to realize that Bobbins was better as an external character. He needed an air of mystery about him. He needed his secrets. I needed to be the man looking at him on the outside and wondering what cards he had up his sleeve. Once I figured that out, it was easy going from there. The character of Nicodemus Clarke came to me easily enough. Basically, he’s something of an homage to Indiana Jones in a lot of ways.


AA: Nicodemus is quite an adventurer. How does Romanian Ruckus express your vision of steampunk, and what does it add to the existing works in the genre?

SPL: This is a tough question. To me, so much of what steampunk is lies within its visual aesthetic, and that is difficult to translate to text sometimes. I did not want to write the book overly laden in a Victorian prose style, either—which I see some writers do very well. I wanted it accessible to the average person, as well as the steampunk fan, so I just concentrated on telling a fun, easy story that happened to be set in this TeslaCon Universe.


AA: You certainly succeeded, I think. I found it very readable, quite engaging, and had plenty of wonderful steampunk things to keep me happy. What was the inspiration for creating Romanian Ruckus?

SPL: Honestly, I owe a lot of RR to two things: Indiana Jones and Scooby-Doo. Both were big influences on me as a kid, and I have been looking for an outlet to do some sort of homage to them. This was that outlet.

AA: Those come through pretty clearly. The Mystery Machine stage coach wouldn’t have been out of place, LOL. What are the key themes in Romanian Ruckus?

SPL: I don’t like to write thematically. I think themes come later, after the story has been told. Looking back on this, I was just trying to tell a story and introduce the major characters in this world. For people who have been to TeslaCon, Lord Bobbins is familiar, but the rest of the characters were new and needed to be introduced, so I was just concentrating on finding their rhythms and quirks and beats. If there is a theme, it’s about the corrupting influence of power—not just power of leadership, but powerful weapons, and money as power. It’s a common theme in literature, I think.


AA: What can you share with us about the traits of the main characters, the larger than life Lord Bobbins, Nicodemus Clarke, and Dolly Shaw?

SPL: Well, Bobbins is the ultimate politician. He has the permanent smile, the quick glad-hand, and always has a card up his sleeve. That is all Eric’s creation, though. I was just borrowing his groundwork. Clarke is a blue-collar hero. He came from Virginia coal country, grew up poor, enlisted in the army, and worked for everything he has. He and Bobbins butt heads a little bit because of that. Bobbins is just another man to Clarke. Bobbins’ title and lordship mean little to him as an American, and that was by design.

I think Bobbins is made stronger by someone willing and able to check him once in a while. But, Clarke is also easy-going and jovial. He’s a good guy who just happens to be skilled at things that he’s used to kill men in the past, and he’s trying to get away from that life. And Dolly Shaw, Bobbins’ bodyguard, is a strong, silent type. She has mystery about her. She is serious and dour.


AA: It’s quite the trio, working together. How do they change throughout the story, or does the world change around them, instead?

SPL: This is an introductory novel for what I hope will be a series, so they don’t change much. Change will happen down the line, I hope.


We’ll pause here in our chat with Sean.

Join us next time when he talks about characters and memorable scenes.

Until then, keep up to date with Sean’s latest news on his Twitter feed or Facebook.

You can support Sean and our community by getting your copy of Lord Bobbins and the Romanian Ruckus here.


Published in: on April 16, 2018 at 7:20 pm  Comments (3)  


San Diego-based musical performance act Steam Powered Giraffe will headline a fast growing steampunk festival in upstate New York that aims to fill the void left by the cancellation of world’s largest Steampunk fair.

“We’re sad to hear The Steampunk World’s Fair will not be happening this year in New Jersey,” said Sue Dunckel, creator of The Enchanted City  annual steampunk street festival in Troy, N.Y. “But based on the interest we’ve had as result of that cancellation, we’re hoping to fill that void and satisfy the need for a spectacularly large steampunk event in the Northeast. And we’re ready for it, with one of the top steampunk acts in the country headlining our festival in one of the most amazing Victorian music halls in one of the most intact 19th century industrial downtowns in the U.S.”

Steam Powered Giraffe will play the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall on Saturday Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. (doors open 6:30 p.m.)

Steam Powered Giraffe is a musical project from San Diego, Calif. that blends steampunk-styled pantomime, vaudeville and barbershop harmonies. The act formed in 2008 by twin siblings David Michael Bennett and Isabella “Bunny” Bennett. Together, along with a cast and crew filled with music and theatrical backgrounds, the group takes on the guise of singing antique automatons, more than a century old, and the fictional robotics company that made them.

The quirky act combines comedic sketches, improvised android banter, and original music fused with billowing steam effects and robot pantomime. As with any antique mechanisms, sometimes the performing “robots” experience mechanical issues during shows that require live on-stage upkeep —  even a full system reboot — by human MC Steve Negrete and his blue matter engineers.

Steam Powered Giraffe’s unique songs have been described as “funky cabaret rock” and “heartwarming nostalgic melodies.”

“We’re thrilled that Steam Powered Giraffe is making one of their rare East Coast appearances on the stage of our historic music hall as headliners to The Enchanted City,” said Troy Savings Bank Music Hall Executive Director Jon Elbaum. “We think this act will draw many out-of-town visitors for the concert and festival which really showcase the creative vibe that is so much a part of Troy now. Troy is a fun cultural tourist destination.”


A National Historic Landmark, the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall opened its doors in 1875. Its legendary near perfect acoustics have earned the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall a reputation for being one of the world’s great concert halls. The Hall has hosted performances by legions of first class artists, from legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Isaac Stern, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Vladimir Horowitz, to the best on today’s contemporary music scene, including Joshua Bell, Andrew Bird, Steve Martin, Lyle Lovett, John Prine, and many others.

Designed by architect George Post, Troy Savings Bank Music Hall is a pristine “Gilded Age” artifact from Americas 19th century industrial wealth.

The Hall was used as a setting for 1984 British film The Bostonians, based on the Henry James novel, starring  Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Reeve, Madeleine Potter and Jessica Tandy.

“Even if you’re lucky enough to have seen Steam Powered Giraffe in concert, you have never seen them in a Victorian space as magical as the legendary Troy Savings Bank Music Hall,” said Dunckel. “Experiencing this act in this musical hall in our perfectly preserved Victorian downtown will be the actualization of a dream. It does not get any better than this in steampunk.”


Reserved seating admission tickets to Steam Powered Giraffe cost $25

Tickets are available to music hall members today and will go on sale to the general public on Thursday, April 12, at 10 a.m.

Tickets are available via phone, (518) 273-0038, in person, or online at  (direct link:  ).

Tickets are available at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall Box Office, 30 Second Street, Troy, Monday through Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

For Box Office Hours and special needs, see:

VIP concert tickets and festival packages (including the concert, tastings, brunch and a private inventors party) are available through The Enchanted City website at:

Saturday Sept. 15, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Celebrating its fifth year this Saturday Sept. 15, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.,  The Enchanted City is an urban street fair and spectacle of steampunk fashion, fantasy and fabrications that magically transforms the historic blocks of downtown Troy, N.Y. into a “cosplay” alternative reality where Victorian fancy meets modern technology. The free festival has drawn more than 8,000 participants in previous years and expects to top that number this year.

The free festival offers a family-friendly inspired day of music, magic, games, performance, food and fantasy. Special events include a fashion show, historic tours, street performers and peddlers, storytelling, dancing, puppet shows, magic acts and more.

Adults and children are encouraged to come dressed in steampunk-themed costumes or as fairies.

New additions this year include a Mad Steampunk Art Show Gala with absinthe tasting, on the eve of the festival. (Note: The festival is back in the streets of downtown Troy, after one year in Riverfront Park.)

“What sets The Enchanted City apart from all other steampunk festivals is our authentic 19th century urban setting: Troy, New York,” said Dunckel. “Like Brigadoon, an entire population of steampunk characters materialize once a year in our city streets and transform the place into living fantasy. It looks and feels like you’re in a movie, and in fact, several Hollywood productions have used these city blocks as a filming location and backdrop — including the 2002 remake of H.G. Wells The Time Machine, which is classic steampunk.”


An opening parade of Mad Machinery, showcases ingeniously devised “mechanical conveyances” (vehicles),  the finest of which transports the festival’s figurehead, “Queen Mab.”

The “Inventors Challenge” is the Queen’s Tourney of Mad Machinery that pits these wonderful machines against each other in races against time, space and gravity, starting at 11:30 a.m. Inventor contestants work on their machines all year long to be able to show them off during the festival.

(“Troy, N.Y. is Steampunk”)

Although definitions vary slightly, Steampunk is a genre of science fiction/fantasy that takes place in an alternative 1800s setting in which modern technology like robotics and air travel are powered by Victorian style and sensibilities. It is an alternative “futuristic past.”

The word steampunk was coined by novelist K. W. Jeter, author of “Morlock Night,” a 1979 spinoff to “The Time Machine,” by H.G. Wells.

Steampunk owes a lot of its aesthetic to “The Time Machine,” Dunckel said noting that the Victorian era scenes from the 2002 Hollywood movie “The Time Machine,” were filmed in downtown Troy, N.Y. under the direction of Simon Wells, great-grandson of the original author.

“This neighborhood where The Enchanted City takes place is literally the set for ‘The Time Machine,'” Dunckel said. “It doesn’t get much more steampunk than that. Troy, New York is steampunk.”

Dunckel notes that several major Hollywood movies have used downtown Troy as a filming location, including: “The Age of Innocence” ; “The Bostonians” ; and “Ironweed,” staring steampunk icon Tom Waits.


The Troy Local Development Corporation (LDC) has awarded a $5,000 grant to be listed as the festival’s top sponsor, with additional support from Pioneer Savings Bank and the YWCA of the Greater Capital Region. Troy Savings Bank Music Hall is a presenting partner sponsor.


For information about The Enchanted City, visit: or email:

Search for “The Enchanted City” on Facebook.

For embeddable videos featuring footage from previous festival years, see:

“Troy Is Steampunk,” by Troy Cultural Alliance:

AHA! | Steampunk by WMHT

For information about Steam Powered Giraffe, visit:

For information about the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall and its legendary acoustics, visit:

For a scene from The Bostonians featuring the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, see:


For high resolution publicity images of: Steam Powered Giraffe, Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, The Enchanted City (previous years), posters & logos (all images have photo credit, or use “Photo Provided”), visit:


Contact: Susan Dunckel, 518-892-2933

Published in: on April 16, 2018 at 7:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Interview 109, The Guns Above Author, Robyn Bennis, Conclusion

Welcome back for the conclusion of our talk with Robyn Bennis, author of The Guns Above.

Read part one here.

Read part two here.


Airship Ambassador: What kind of reader are you?

Robyn Bennis: I’m the kind of reader who needs to connect to a character early, or I’m out. In fact, that’s about the only problem that can get me to put down a book before I’m finished. A book can be boring, predictable, queerphobic, or even commit that most heinous of sins, getting the science wrong, and I’ll usually power through it anyway. Just don’t give me characters I’m ambivalent about.

AA: Boredom is a turn off, in so many things. How have things changed for you from your earliest writing experience to being published?

RB: Well, it’s turned from absolute crap to worthy of a published novel with a glowing Kirkus review and a starred Library Journal review. I’m sure there were more subtle changes along the way, but if I went back to look for them in my old stuff, I might throw up.


AA: Letting sleeping dogs lie is the best policy, sometimes. What have been the most useful skills to learn in your journey as a writer?

RB: Realistic and honest self-critique is, by far, the hardest to learn and most useful skill I possess. Being able to look at a sentence, a scene, a chapter, and assess whether it’s working is invaluable. Being able to do it without worrying that my vanity or imposter syndrome is clouding my judgement is what brought my writing to the next level. Mind you, it took a couple decades to master.


AA: One slow day at a time. What story would you like to write but haven’t, yet?

RB: Holy crap, I could make a list of them so long it would crash the website, so I’ll limit this to the idea that’s been rattling around my brainpan the most over the past few months. I’d like to write a far-future space opera that hews as close as possible to our current understanding of physics. I’m sure other authors have done this, but I’m equally sure our current understanding of physics has changed since then. I want to explore what human society looks like in such a scenario. What kinds of people will go to the stars? What sorts of civilizations will they build out there?


AA: Doing so could be a wonderful groundwork of thought for actual exploration and growth. Do you get people recognizing you for The Guns Above?

RB: Thankfully, no. I’m naturally kind of a shy person, though my con friends may not always believe it. I’m happy to stay unrecognized for as long as possible.

AA: I think that will resonate strongly with many readers. If you weren’t a writer, what else would you be doing now?

RB: Let’s be honest, I’d probably be in jail.


AA: Sounds like another interview in the making right there! You’ve talked about how losing one job brought you so much closer to being a published writer. Anything else push you further along?

RB: I recently moved from Mountain View, CA to Madison, WI—stick with me here, this is going somewhere. In Mountain View, my writing had to take a back seat to biotech consulting, because that was the only way to pay the rent. In Madison, I’m a writer first and a biologist second. If people keep buying my books, I might even be able to keep that up.


AA: Aside from that writing and biology, what other interests fill your time?

RB: I’m pretty much living for my cat at the moment. His name is Dizzy, he’s lived with me for two months, he’s irredeemably weird, and I’d cut off my own arm to make him happy.


AA: Knowing cats, he’d probably begrudgingly accept your sacrifice. What is on your to-be read or watched pile right now?

RB: I’m slowly working my way through a re-watch of Star Trek: The Next Generation and the Friday the 13th movies. I’m a complicated person, okay? My to-be-read pile is far too long to list and is becoming a structural threat to the apartment, but it includes Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, Doomsday Book by Connie Williams, and The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore.


AA: I was just talking to someone about the dangerous sizes of to-be-read piles. Any people have influenced you and your writing?

RB: My mother certainly motivated me to not be like her. She was a biker chick who lived hard and ran from the cops as a reflex action. By all rights, she should have been friends with Hunter S. Thompson, but unfortunately they were aligned with competing biker gangs.

AA: And now an interview opportunity with your mom! What is the best advice you’ve been given?

RB: Regarding writing, it would have to be “don’t give up.” Regarding sports, commitments, and relationships, it’d be “always give up.”


AA: LOL! But, yeah. Any final thoughts to share with our readers

RB: No. They can make their own damn thoughts. I’m not sharing mine, and I’m tired of all these thought-moochers that feel entitled to them. It’s creeping socialism, if you ask me.


HA! Thanks, Robyn, for joining us for this interview and for apparently NOT sharing all of your thoughts.  We look forward to reading By Fire Above and the subsequent books!


Keep up to date with Robyn’s latest news on her website.

You can support Robyn and our community by getting your copy of The Guns Above here.

Published in: on March 28, 2018 at 6:53 pm  Comments (1)