Readers, I’d never heard the term “Steam Punk” until a friend on Facebook said that the cover of Maggie’s Journey looked like Steam Punk. I had to do research on the term to find out what it was. I contacted that friend back and told her that the book wasn’t Steam Punk. I didn’t want her to buy it and be disappointed. But she answered that maybe I would get some new readers if they thought it was. She really liked my writing as well as Steam Punk.
Welcome, Shelley. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
Because the only limit to what I can do is out there at the edge of my imagination. I’ve been a fan of steampunk since the sixties, when all we neighborhood kids would make up adventures from Wild Wild West. I was the oldest, so I got to be James West, but secretly I admired Artemus Gordon for his skill with nifty devices and inventions. When I got the idea for the Magnificent Devices series, it was the natural flowering of something I’d loved for years.
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
Any day I can spend writing is a happy day. In fact, if I can’t write, I get nervous and cranky and generally hard to live with. My husband has learned to adapt.
How has being published changed your life?
There’s an inner fulfillment in a writing life that can’t be satisfied any other way. I’ll never forget that day back in 2002 when I had just been laid off from a company where I’d worked for 12 years. I was sitting at my desk at home, disconsolate, wondering what I should do. The phone rang and it was an editor at Harlequin, calling to make an offer on my MA thesis, which was a romance novel. After that, I didn’t care one bit about being laid off. My career made a 90-degree turn and I’ve never looked back. Never went back to corporate, either. And when I stopped freelancing and committed to writing full time, it’s been all systems go. There is nothing better than your day job being the thing you love.
That is so true. What are you reading right now?
I just finished Elizabeth George’s latest mystery, Just One Evil Act. It was fabulous. Like two mysteries wrapped into one, with Inspector Lynley the handsome cherry on top J
What is your current work in progress?
Alongside the Magnificent Devices books I write as Shelley Adina, I’m also doing an Amish women’s fiction series as Adina Senft for Hachette FaithWords. It’s called the Healing Grace series, and it’s about an Amish herbal healer who solves emotional and spiritual mysteries as God helps her heal her patients in her community. The book I’m working on is called Keys of Heaven. Each book’s title is the country name of an important herb in the book, and also a metaphor for the spiritual malady that needs to be cured. The first book, Herb of Grace, will be out in August 2014.
What would be your dream vacation?
I’ve already been to all the places I ever dreamed of going (
with the exception of one. I’d really like to travel to New Zealand.
Yes, I want to see a hobbit hole. And Edoras. And fly on a plane that has Smaug
painted on the side. How cool is that?
How do you choose your settings for each book?
The story chooses them, really. In the Magnificent Devices books, we begin in London at a posh girls’ school, then everything rapidly goes to pieces and we find ourselves in the East End criminal underworld, then in Cornwall, then being hijacked by sky pirates and crash landing in the Texican Territory, then escaping jail in Santa Fe, then going to diamond mines in the far north, then coming back to London and embarking on a university career in Bavaria. And that’s just the adventures of Lady Claire, my original heroine. Now I’m writing the stories of the orphans in her underworld gang, and so far we’ve been in
Bavaria, London, and the Cotswolds. In book six, we’re
going to Penzance and then I suspect more hijacking of airships will occur and
our heroines will end up in France!
Quel horreur! The lucky thing is,
I’ve been to all the locations I write about, so the details of the settings
have accurate flavor and detail, even though it’s historical fantasy.
If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
I’d like to talk books and characters with Johnny Depp over a plate of steamed crab and sourdough bread.
What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
I rescue chickens. You wouldn’t think that in this huge urban area where I live that this would be necessary, but it is. I came out of the house one Saturday morning and there was a cardboard box on the porch containing a Black Australorp hen. My husband rescued a Rhode Island Red on a freeway on-ramp. And people bring them to me. I got a bird from someone in a parking lot once—I swear, we looked like a pair of drug traffickers doing a deal. For me, there is nothing lovelier than that moment when an abused creature gives you her trust. All of my birds are voice trained, and the first step is gaining that trust.
Along with the chickens, I enjoy a number of other things. I play the piano and Celtic harp, and I’m a historical costumer. Which is really handy when I’m doing steampunk booksignings, because it’s a fact universally acknowledged that if you work in this genre, you make your own costumes and wear them in public without fear.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
My obstacle is common to most writers, I think: the blank page and the blinking cursor. I overcome it by doing extensive character and structure work in advance. Once I have the story’s structure and the theme it’s going to work out through the characters’ journeys, I’m good to go.
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Don’t give up. This business isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’re burning to tell a story, get all the training you can and tell it. Check university extensions and community colleges for writing classes. Take classes online. Focus on your craft until it becomes instinctive and the story flows through it. And then pull out all the stops, be true to the story in your heart, and write!
Tell us about the featured book.
After a four-book cycle of the adventures of Lady Claire, in book five I turn to her wards, who were 10-year-old twins nicknamed the Mopsies when we first met them. Now, in A Lady of Resources, they’re sixteen and looking at what sort of woman they intend to be. The story focuses on Lizzie, who, as a former pickpocket and scout, is having a difficult time with her options. Here’s the back-cover blurb:
You can choose your friends, but you cannot choose your family ... or can you?
Now sixteen, the twins Lizzie and Maggie are educated young ladies who have not been called “the Mopsies” in years … except by their guardian, Lady Claire Trevelyan. With the happy prospect of choosing their own future, the girls can leave their dodgy past behind, and Lizzie can bury her deepest childhood memories where they can do no harm. Upon her graduation from school, Lizzie is awarded an enormous honor—but can she pay the price? Is she ready to be separated from Maggie and become the woman she believes she was meant to be—or will old habits tempt her into defiance and plunge her into disaster?
On a dare, Lizzie picks the wrong man’s pocket and nearly loses her life. But these frightening events bear unexpected fruit: The dream Lizzie holds closest to her heart comes true in a most unexpected way. But this dream, too, comes with a price. Lizzie must decide whether her true family is the one she was born to … or the one she chose that long-ago day when the Lady of Devices steamed into their lives …
Please give us the first page of the book.
“Of all the infernal instruments man ever made, the corset is the worst.” Lizzie de Maupassant struggled with the hooks on the front of the glossy brocade undergarment, which one had to wear in order to make everything that went on top of it hang properly. “Look at this, Maggie. It bends where it oughtn’t and pokes everywhere else.” She smashed the placket together, which only made the hooks she’d managed already pop apart. “Argh!”
Lizzie flung the wretched thing across the Lady’s room, where it landed on the windowsill like an exhausted accordion.
“Fits of temper won’t solve anything.” Her twin’s tone held no criticism, only reason. “Come on. Let me have a go.”
Maggie rescued the poor corset, bought new for the grand occasion of the graduation of Lady Claire Trevelyan, the girls’ guardian, from the
, and passed it
about Lizzie’s chemise- and petticoat-clad form. University of
“I don’t miss the old lace-ups,” Lizzie said, feeling calmer as Maggie’s clever fingers made short work of the row of hooks, “but I’ll say this for them—they were more forgiving of a mort’s curves than these new ones. Even if it were made specially for me.”
“Don’t say mort.”
“Ent nobody here but us. We don’t have to be so careful about our diction and deportment—” She mimicked the squeaky tones of Mademoiselle Dupree, the mistress of their class by that name. “—when we’re on our own.”
“The Lady says that’s the test of a true lady—that she does the right thing even when nobody’s looking.”
“Aye, more’s the pity,” Lizzie sighed. “We might pass our exams, but we’ll never remember everything she probably knew by the time she was ten.”
The door opened and the Lady herself breezed in. “All who knew? Goodness, Lizzie, we’re to be in the ballroom in two hours and you’re not even dressed, to say nothing of your hair.”
Maggie patted the corset and released her. “Won’t be a tick, Lady.” The corset now lay obediently where it ought, hugging Lizzie’s waist into a satisfyingly narrow width, and flaring out over hips and bust, which possessed dimensions not quite so satisfying. The Lady said to give it time, that she herself had been eighteen before resigning herself to a sylph-like silhouette rather than the majestic curves fashion now favored. But if one didn’t have an idea of one’s silhouette by now, then the odds weren’t very good, were they?
I can’t wait to read the whole book. How can readers find you on the Internet?
You can explore the Magnificent Devices books, as well as all my other releases as Shelley Adina, at http://www.shelleyadina.com . And for the Healing Grace and Amish Quilt series written as Adina Senft, visit http://www.adinasenft.com .
It's always my pleasure to welcome you to my blog, Shelley.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
A Lady of Resources: A steampunk adventure novel (Magnificent Devices) (Volume 5) - paperback
A Lady of Resources: A steampunk adventure novel (Magnificent Devices) - Kindle
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