Interview 110, Lord Bobbins and the Romanian Ruckus author, Sean Patrick Little, Part 2

Welcome back for part two in our talk with Sean Patrick Little, author of Lord Bobbins and the Romanian Ruckus.

Read Part One here.

 

Airship Ambassador: There are some other notable guest characters in the story. They weren’t surprises, given steampunk, but how did you choose to involve them?

Sean Patrick Little: You mean Nikola Tesla, right? He’s not a surprise because he’s on the cover. I figured Bobbins is the type who knows everyone who is a major player in the world. He’s well-connected. He’s an industrialist. Any industrialist worth his salt would know Tesla and have one ear attuned to Tesla’s ideas, because any of them might grow to be worth a lot of money. Plus, I liked making Tesla a foil for Bobbins. Their personalities clash terrifically.

 

AA: Haha, it is quite a clash, especially since they have a few things in common. Looking behind the scenes, how do you connect the readers with the characters?

SPL: I just try to tell a fun story with good characters. That’s it. You can’t write to and audience. You have to write something you, yourself, will enjoy and hope that others will enjoy it, too. That’s all you can do. I had fun writing it. I like the characters. I just hope others will like them, too.

AA: It was great fun for me to read, and I couldn’t put it down until I finished. There are some wonderful twists and turns in the developments of the story, and some clever bits of science and technology. What are some of the interesting and important details within the world of Romanian Ruckus?

SPL: Well…one of the important details is something of a spoiler…so I’d better pass on this one.

 

AA: Argh, the suspense for our readers! Guess they’ll have to run right out and get the book, now. What scene was really memorable to write?

SPL: I liked writing the first chapter. To me, that’s where I found the feet to this book. The first chapter is basically the introduction of Nicodemus Clarke. It’s the first chapter where I found the hero who could lead this book. Before I wrote that chapter, I had no book. I had a story, but without Clarke, it was not going anywhere.

 

AA: That makes quite a change, as you mentioned earlier, from Bobbins being the lead to being Clarke instead. Not everything ca be crammed into a book. Was there anything that you loved but which just had to be cut?

SPL: Many. I had some extended takes with Bobbins and Tesla needling each other verbally, but they just got to be too long and tedious. Too much back and forth weakened the story. I tend to do that in writing. I like dialogue a lot. For many years, I wrote dialogue a lot like how Gregory Mcdonald does in the ‘Fletch’ novels—two people talking without attribution or further description. Short, fast dialogue. I like that. But, a lot of people don’t. So, I had to scale back a lot of those exchanges.

 

AA: Liking to write dialogue is a great skill to have as a writer. Short, quippy interactions between characters can be very effective in setting mood and creating anticipation to see what gets said next. When people read Romanian Ruckus, what would you like for them really remember?

SPL: That’s too deep of a question for an adventure book. I just hope they enjoy the ride.

 

AA: Right, we’ll save philosophy for the next book! What was one memorable story while writing this story?

SPL: I think I enjoyed the Bobbins’ dialogue the most. You can get away with a lot when writing his speech. He can be mildly offensive or earnest and it fits him. I think power and money let people get away with a lot in this world, and Bobbins is a by-product of that. He’s not a true hero—he has his own darkness, but his worldview lets him be annoying and silly at times.

 

AA: Sounds like hints for future stories! What kind of research went into creating the Romanian Ruckus world?

SPL: Given that I was playing in Eric Larson’s sandbox with setting this in the TeslaCon world, and I had not attended any of the prior conventions, I relied a lot on Eric filling in gaps in the story for me.

 

AA: I’m guessing that wasn’t a short coffee session. How long did it take to write, and rewrite, Romanian Ruckus?

SPL: It was probably a ten-month process. The initial draft was probably six months long (I could have done it faster, but I was working a job with a lot of 12-hour days at the time). The next four months were spent in editing and layout and production.

AA: Might there be further adventures for readers to follow?

SPL: It is hoped that this will be an ongoing series. I actually wrote the second book, Lord Bobbins and the Dome of Light, in a month. Once I knew the characters and had the next story outlined, writing went very quickly. (Plus, I was unemployed, so I could spend four-to-ten hours a day at a keyboard.) Dome of Light is an even better book than Romanian Ruckus. It was easier to write once I had all the character voices and mannerisms established. I am currently working on the third book, Lord Bobbins and the Clockwork Girl. If people like them, I can keep writing them.

 

AA: Excellent! My one request, OK, one of several, is that all the books are the same height so they all match up on my shelf. Matching spines would be nice, too. If someone likes “X”, then they’ll like Romanian Ruckus. What is “X”?

SPL: Indiana Jones movies. Adventure movies from the 1980s. I was born in ’75, so the 80s were a major influence on me. I think a lot of my personal aesthetic is still stuck in the 80s.

 

AA: Ah, the 80s! Great music, great clothes, and the hair! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and read it all in one day, so I know I’d recommend it to others. What do you think puts this story on someone’s must read/have list?

SPL: It’s a fast read. There’s not a lot of downtime in the book. The humor is quick and light. It’s not a book that’s going to bum someone out or ruin their day with a lot of heavy thought. It’s just fun.

 

AA: It really was! If Romanian Ruckus were made into a movie, which would be great fun, who would you cast as the main characters?

SPL: Well…Harrison Ford is too old to play Nicodemus Clarke, so I think I would go with Neal McDonough for Clarke. I’ve always liked him as an actor, and he’s got freakishly blue eyes, so he’s memorable. He’s right in the right age range for Clarke. If I had to pick someone for Dolly Shaw, I’d probably go with Claire Foy. She has the right look, and she was wonderful in that first season of The Crown. Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag) could do it, too. She’s amazing. (I would have liked to see her play the Doctor in Doctor Who.) And Bobbins can only be played by Eric Larson. He’s an original. No one else could do him justice.

 

Some good actor choices in that list! We’ll pause here in our chat with Sean.

Join us next time when he talks about his writing process.

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 17, 2018 at 7:11 pm  Comments (2)  

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)  

Press Release – STEAM POWERED GIRAFFE TO HEADLINE SEPT. 15 STEAMPUNK FESTIVAL UPSTATE NEW YORK

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.”

ABOUT THE TROY SAVINGS BANK MUSIC HALL

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.”

TICKETS

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 www.troymusichall.org  (direct link: https://tickets.troymusichall.org/TheatreManager/99/online?performance=31301  ).

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: http://www.troymusichall.org/shows_and_tickets/Box-Office-Info_66_pg.htm

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

https://enchantedcity.ticketspice.com/the-enchanted-city-2018

ABOUT THE ENCHANTED CITY V: AUTOMATA
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.”

INVENTORS CHALLENGE

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.

WHAT IS STEAMPUNK?
(“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.

KEY SPONSOR

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.

INFORMATION & PUBLIC CONTACT

For information about The Enchanted City, visit: https://www.enchantedtroy.com/ or email: info@theenchantedcitytroy.com

Search for “The Enchanted City” on Facebook.

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

“Troy Is Steampunk,” by Troy Cultural Alliance:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcPS1onan9g

AHA! | Steampunk by WMHT
http://www.wmht.org/blogs/aha/aha-steampunk/

For information about Steam Powered Giraffe, visit:  https://steampoweredgiraffe.com/

For information about the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall and its legendary acoustics, visit:
http://www.troymusichall.org/discover/The-Acoustics-of-Troy-Savings-Bank-Music-Hall_57_pg.htm

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUSrdI1VvxU

PUBLICITY IMAGES

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:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/sv48bsami93dgcy/AAAqAak1tXp97SRSY25E6alua?dl=0

MEDIA CONTACT

Contact: Susan Dunckel, 518-892-2933
suedunckel@gmail.com

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