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.

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

Interview #105 – ‘Caress’ Author Eli Easton, Conclusion

Welcome back for the conclusion in our chat with Eli Easton, author of Caress in the steampunk anthology Steamed Up by Dreamspinner Press.

Read Part One here.

 

Airship Ambassador: No spoilers now, but that ending! I have to admit, it made me cry.

Eli Easton:  Well, I’m ultimately a romance writer at heart, and in romance there’s always a happy ending. There are dark parts of “Caress” but the ending is a sweet one. 😊

AA: Are there any plans for a sequel or spinoff? Please?

EE:  Not at this time. But it would be fun to expand the story possibly and republish it as a stand-alone.

 

AA: What kind of research and balance went into creating the Caress world?

EE: I did research the Crimean war and the British army hierarchy etc at that that. But probably not as much as I should have!

 

AA: Well, maybe when you do the full length novel 🙂  Every author I’ve talked with has a different journey to seeing their works in print. What has your publishing experience been like?

EE:  I have been lucky enough to write professionally since 1990. I wrote for computer games for a number of years, and then published some thriller novels in the early 00’s. I stopped writing books for a while and it was a love of mm romance that brought me back to it. I have always loved romance, the idea of how two people find each other and why they are right together and how they overcome obstacles to make it work. I particularly like MM because, honestly, I’m crap at writing female characters. And I like having two leads that are more on equal footing. I’m just not a fan of writing gender dynamics. Once I found mm romance and began writing in it, I loved it and I’ve been in it for the past three years.

 

AA: YAY for the readers! If someone likes “X”, then they’ll like Caress. What is “X”?

EE:  It’s a bit gothic. So I think if you like gothic steampunk, or stories like Frankenstein, or the old Hammer horror movies, you might like it. It also has a decidedly erotic side. A bit kinky probably.

 

AA: For the aspiring writer, what lessons did you learn about having an editor?

EE: Just let it go. Anything anyone can offer you that will honestly make the story better, or appeal to more people, accept it. Having the opinion that you are the “artiste” and no one else can offer you anything that would improve the work is just crap. The point is to make the story as good as possible, so take your ego out of it.

 

AA: Some people might say that writers need to be readers, too. What do you think?

EE:  I do read a whole lot. Probably 3-4 books a week. Writing of course is much slower. I try to complete 5 books a year.

 

AA: That’s still a lot of writing! As a reader, what has made you stop reading something before finishing it?

EE:  Poor writing, plots and characters that offer nothing new or no real depth. I’m not a fan of authors who put one disaster after another on their poor character. It’s unrealistic and not fun to read. In general, I dislike heavy angst unless it is lightened with some humor or heart.  I’m not a fan of the “misunderstanding” angst points where everything could be resolved if they just talked. That makes me want to smack the characters upside the head. I try to have the obsacles/crisis point in my stories be something more serious than a misunderstanding or miscommunication.

 

AA: What story would you like to write but haven’t, yet?

EE:  I have a whole list! I don’t want anyone to get to the idea first, though, so I’d rather not gives details.  Some are romances and some are thrillers. I do enjoy writing mystery/thrillers and I’ve published a few recently under Jane Jensen.

 

AA: coughSequelcough Looking beyond writing, what other interests fill your time?

EE:  I enjoy hiking, biking, reading and film. We have a farm so I spend time with our animals (2 cows, 1 pig, 2 dogs, and a cat) or just doing stuff around the property. I do a bit of gardening.

 

AA: How do those interests influence your work?

EE:  I often write about life on the farm. My recent mysteries with Berkeley were set in Lancaster County/Amish country, which is where I live. (Kingdom Come and Land of Milk and Honey) and a number of my romances have been set more or less on our farm including A Second Harvest and upcoming Tender Mercies, which is about a farm sanctuary.

 

AA: What other fandoms are you part of?

EE:  I was a big fan of BBC Sherlock, but I hated S4 so that’s over now (sigh). Also I used to enjoy Supernatural, but haven’t kept up with it lately.

 

AA: Kind of a twist in Sherlock, certainly not something I was expecting. What is on your to-be read or watched pile right now?

EE:  I’m going through some gay cinema. I recently watched Holding the Man, which made me sob like a baby. I loved it. On the lighter side, 4th Man Out and The 10 Year Plan were both great rom coms. I haven’t watched any TV for a while so I have a lot of films to catch up on.

 

AA: What is the best advice you’ve been given?

EE:  One of my favorite quotes is, if a man knows where he is going, the universe gets out of the way. I think it’s important to have a strong vision and act on it with absolute belief and commitment.

 

Thanks, Eli, for joining us for this interview and for sharing all of your thoughts.  We look forward to hearing about your next projects!

 

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

You can support Eli and our community by getting your copy of Steamed Up here.

Published in: on June 19, 2017 at 7:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Interview #105 – ‘Caress’ Author Eli Easton

This week we are talking with Eli Easton, author of Caress in the steampunk anthology Steamed Up by Dreamspinner Press.

 

Airship Ambassador: Hi Eli, thanks for joining us for this interview.

Eli Easton: Thanks, happy to be here.

AA: Readers may know you from your previous work, including Before I Wake, Puzzle Me This, and your most recent book, Snowblind. Of interest to steampunks will be your story, Caress, in the Steamed Up anthology. What is that short story about?

EE:  I wrote the story for a m/m steampunk anthology. I’d never written steampunk before and it sounded like a fun challenge. The main character of the story is a man, Tinker, who is a genius clockwork maker. His mentor had fashioned a mechanical heart for him when his own heart failed. He ends up working for the British war department during the Crimean war and he falls for a soldier he’s been tasked with saving by giving him clockwork hands. In the story, the war department uses Tinker and clockworks to create sophisticated weapons, so there’s an anti-war spin on the story.

AA: How does Caress express your vision of steampunk, and what does it add to the existing works in the genre?

EE: To be honest, I’m not a huge reader of steampunk, so it’s hard for me to compare it to other works in the genre. What I tried to do with the story is stay as true to the British/Crimean war period as possible, only tweaking the sophistication of the clockworks technology and how much of a role it played in war and weaponry. I’ve read some interesting pieces of how the earlier nuclear scientists felt when their work was used for the bomb, so I incorporated some of that.

 

AA: Both of the main characters, Tinker and Colin, like so many of us, see their perceived weaknesses as partially or mostly defining them, despite the strengths which other people clearly see. Both are also confined, maybe defined, by their circumstances. What can you share with us about their personality traits, motivations, and inner qualities?

EE: Tinker’s sexuality defines a lot of how he feels about himself. He’s incredibly brilliant, but he always felt small, odd, and different, and his sexuality as he matures is another way he’s simply not like other men. So he tends to hide himself in his intricate work and has no close associates. Colin is more of a straight-forward man’s man, or he tries to be, but he ends up hating the bloodshed of war. He would probably not have survived if he hadn’t fallen for Tinker and had that love returned. The fact that their sexuality is not accepted in their place and time makes both of them loners and, conversely, when they meet and can bond with each other its more of a lasting bond.

AA: What are some of the interesting and important details within the world of Caress?

EE:   I liked the idea of clockwork weaponry, and so I was able to get creative with that. If I ever expanded the story, that’s probably where I’d spend more plot time. I also like the idea of Tinker’s mechanical heart, which he has to maintain once a year by switching out valves. It’s gory but cool!

AA: LOL, it did strike me as a bit of “Oh, ugh, don’t pass out, don’t pass out!” What passage, paragraph, or scene was really memorable to write?

EE:  One of the hooks to the story was that Tinker was order to design hands for a solider amputee and they are supposed be exceptional weapons—super strong, able to crush and kill. But Tinker loves the solider, so he creates hands that can also caress and be loving and sensual. It’s a bit of an erotic take on something like those old horror moves like The Hand. Here’s a key scene:


“Tinker,” he said, questioning.

I nodded, not trusting my voice.

“Could I ask you something terribly personal?”

I nodded again.

He blushed. “I—” He tried again. “I know the hands must be set to kill. I know this. But….”

“Yes?”

“Can you make them do other things as well?” He looked down where his hand held mine, frowning at it as if he didn’t trust its current gentleness.

“Anything.”

“Can you make the hands… caress?” His blush deepened and he couldn’t meet my eyes. “No one will want a mechanical man, you see, to be touched by things like these.” He held the hands up to look at them. I missed the weight of his hand on mine immediately.

“That’s not true. Many men have prosthetics. And you’re a handsome man.”

He looked at me sharply but without much hope. “You’re used to mechanisms. But for most people…. They’ll frighten away any lover.”

I noted that he did not say the word woman. I swallowed.

“And if the hands don’t keep them away, the blood on them will,” he said roughly. “I’m already a killer. But with these…. If I ever see England again, I’ll be soaked in blood.”

I couldn’t argue with him. I knew what duty he and his hands were bound for. But my fingers rubbed his chest to offer comfort, as if they had a will of their own.

He closed his eyes as he choked out the request. “Allow me to be tender to myself at least. No one else will ever want to touch me.”

I felt my face heat, understanding his meaning perfectly. Ten pounds psi, twenty, scrotum, shaft, glans. The ideas it sent rushing through my head overwhelmed me, intellect and body both.

He mistook my silence and pulled away, rolling onto his side to put his back to me. “My apologies. I didn’t intend to ask. I shouldn’t have. Please forget I ever said it. Please, Tinker.”

He was distraught. I felt the strongest urge to lean down and kiss his hair. I was losing my mind. I did lean down, but only to whisper in his ear.

“I will teach the hands to caress, Colin,” I vowed with all my heart.

He froze, then nodded.

And before I could do anything else irredeemably foolish, I removed the hands and took them away to be finished.


We’ll take a quick break here.

Join us for the conclusion when Eli talks about writing, elements of the story and other interests.

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

You can support Eli and our community by getting your copy of Steamed Up here.

Published in: on June 18, 2017 at 2:49 pm  Comments (1)