Hey everyone! Today, I have Shanna Swendson, author of Rebel Mechanics, here with an interview! First, here’s the cover and synopsis for Rebel Mechanics:
It’s 1888, and sixteen-year-old Verity Newton lands a job in New York as a governess to a wealthy leading family—but she quickly learns that the family has big secrets. Magisters have always ruled the colonies, but now an underground society of mechanics and engineers are developing non-magical sources of power via steam engines that they hope will help them gain freedom from British rule. The family Verity works for is magister—but it seems like the children’s young guardian uncle is sympathetic to the rebel cause. As Verity falls for a charming rebel inventor and agrees to become a spy, she also becomes more and more enmeshed in the magister family’s life. She soon realizes she’s uniquely positioned to advance the cause—but to do so, she’ll have to reveal her own dangerous secret.
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And now here’s the interview! Enjoy!
Question: Rebel Mechanics will be out in two weeks (and will celebrate its Book Birthday two days after this interview goes live!)!!! How does it feel? Are you nervous? Excited?
Answer: I am really excited! I’ve been working on this book for so long, and I can’t wait for readers to start finding it. I’m always a bit nervous about the release of a book because it’s like sending a little piece of myself out into the world, but at the same time I’m very proud of it and I hope people love it as much as I do.
Question: Describe your book in ten words or less. Go!
Answer: Jane Eyre meets the Scarlet Pimpernel and starts a revolution.
Question: Rebel Mechanics sounds AMAZING. What inspired the idea for the story?
Answer: A lot of things came together to create this story. I wanted to play with steampunk because it looks cool and I love Victorian things. I was somewhat inspired by the book Jane Eyre, in that when I found myself looking at my bookcase and saw that book, it made me think that a governess would be a good character to write about in a steampunk story. There’s an incident in the first chapter that was inspired by something I was being snarky about when I was discussing a book I read, and it ended up being a big part of the plot. And I just wanted to write a fun adventure story with trains and airships and other cool stuff that also looks pretty.
Question: You’ve written/published several books for adults. What made you decide to write a book for young adults? Do you prefer writing YA or adult?
Answer: My agent’s been trying for years to get me to write a YA book because she thinks my voice would fit well. My earlier books are very teen friendly, and I have a lot of younger readers. The School Library Journal even listed my Enchanted, Inc. as being an adult book that teen readers would like. I actually initially wrote Rebel Mechanics as an adult book, but since the characters were pretty young, we also submitted to YA publishers, and they were the ones who were more open to it. I guess my earlier books were adult books that might also appeal to teens, and this book is a teen book that might also appeal to adults. I really just write books with characters who are the ages they need to be, and I let the publishers decide where to shelve them.
Question: Your previous books (The Enchanted, Inc. series and The Fairy Tale series) were all about fairy tales and magic. With Rebel Mechanics, you’re venturing into history, rebellion and espionage. Was it fun writing about something different or do you still prefer fairy tales?
Answer: When you look at what’s going on in Rebel Mechanics, I think a lot of those fairy tale themes are still there. We have secret identities, hidden magic, noblemen, a fancy ball, and even a “prince” of sorts. In some respects, it’s closer to traditional fairy tales than the contemporary books are. It’s just in a different setting with a different kind of big-picture plot. The only real difference is that the characters are wearing different clothes and are in a different world.
Question: Think back to when your first book was published. What’s the best thing you’ve experienced so far? Best encounter with a reader?
Answer: Perhaps my biggest “wow, my life is so cool” moments was when I was at the party hosted by my previous publisher at the World Science Fiction Convention. The party was a boat tour on the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. I started the evening chatting with Alan Dean Foster, who was one of the first science fiction authors I ever read and a favorite my whole life. Then later I spent quite a while chatting with Connie Willis, one of my current favorite authors, and her husband. I ended up having a wacky conversation about Gilligan’s Island conspiracy theories with George R.R. Martin. And they were all treating me like a peer. I think I was acting totally cool about it, but at the same time my inner fangirl was freaking out about how amazing all this was.
As for my best reader encounter, this wasn’t in person, but I got an e-mail from someone whose mother had had a stroke. She was conscious, but not really responsive, and so this person started reading to her. When she read my series, her mother actually seemed to respond to it and became more aware, like she was really hearing it and wanted to know what happened next. That gave me shivers, to think that my work had affected someone that way.
Question: If you could go back and tell your pre-published self one thing, what would it be?
Answer: Write what you want to read and don’t worry about what’s currently hot. I spent a lot of time chasing trends and trying to be something I wasn’t rather than writing what mattered to me. That’s why my career has a big gap in it.
Question: Craziest thing you’ve had to Google for a WIP?
Answer: For Rebel Mechanics, I spent a lot of time looking for videos of steam engines at work. They weren’t just used for trains. There were steam tractors, and some are still working. Apparently, there are whole festivals around steam-powered vehicles, and fortunately they post videos from these.
Question: I know Rebel Mechanics isn’t out yet, but I’m dying to know – are you working on anything new?
Answer: I’m at work on the third book in my Fairy Tale series, but I’m also starting preliminary research on a sequel to Rebel Mechanics.
And now here’s the giveaway! To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below!