Author Interview | Conversing with E.A. Hennessy an Indie Author who used crowd-funding to launch her debut novel “Grigory’s Gadget”!

Conversations of Steampunk banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Pierre Rougier.

I am listening to a wonderfully brilliant radio programme, where the music of the early 20th Century is crackling through my airwaves giving me a proper grounding of ‘time’ as I contemplate the subject of ‘Steampunk’ and yesteryear. Talk about an ever so sweet atmosphere for blogging about a genre which implores your exploration!

I am conversing with an Indie Author of whom I crossed paths with originally in October of 2015. I even went so far as to compose my initial joy in finding her and her debut novel being featured on IndieGoGo whilst selecting content for my then #BookishNotBookish No.7. I relate this to you in the ‘past tense’ as this is one of the posts I never had the pleasure of releasing and look forward to finishing before my 3rd blogoversary on the 31st of March, 2016. As I have happily been sharing my bookish and readerly adventures on to such an extent of joy it’s hard to believe my *third!* blogoversary is upon me!

I digress. This isn’t about my own journey, but rather Ms Hennessy’s – I simply wanted to anchour my first interview with a small tidbit about myself, as throughout *March!* our dear hearted Steampunk readers will be starting to become familiar with the Cavaliers! If this is your first visit with us, I wanted to at least give you a small glimpse into who is behind the conversations – as I truly feel honoured to continue my exploration of a genre on a blog full of enthused creatives who each have found their own path into Steampunk, whilst encouraging the community to engage with us and carry forward a torch of curiosity as we blog our thoughts, our ruminations, our conversations and the topics which keenly draw an interest to dissect!

It’s my wicked sweet joy to introduce you to an author I hope you might already know, as she’s actively conversing in the twitterverse: Ms E.A. Hennessy!

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Grigory's Gadget by E.A. Hennessy

Lodninsk, Morozhia is a frozen, industrial wasteland. Isolated by steep mountains and ruled by an authoritarian government, it isn’t anyone’s idea of home-sweet-home.

Zoya and her friends Demyan, Lilia, Anya, and Nikolai decide to leave their freezing home to start a new life. They set their sights on the tropical paradise of Mirgorod, Vernulaia, where they can study at its prestigious university while taking in the sun and sand…but nothing ever goes so smoothly.

When pirates attack their passenger ship, the friends are shanghaied and forced to be part of their crew. What’s more, the pirates have a particular interest in Zoya’s family heirloom: a small gadget of compacted wires and gears. Unsure what power the gadget holds, Zoya knows she must protect it with her life.

Trapped with pirates, caught in the struggle for the mysterious gadget, will Zoya and her friends be able to make it safely to their new home?

Cover Art Designed by: Deranged Doctor Designs

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comWhat first drew your eye into the aesthetics of the Steampunk genre? Did you enter through the craft of stories, the sound of Steampunk music, the flair of the fashion or was it an organic re-direction into an imaginative world created out of Victorian technology that set your heart passionate for everything inter-related to Steampunk as a whole?

Hennessy responds: I was drawn to Steampunk long before I knew what Steampunk actually was. It was a culmination of a lot of other interests: interest in history, in technology, in Science Fiction and Fantasy, and in alternative- and counter-culture. The first piece of Steampunk I remember experiencing, specifically, was the movie Howl’s Moving Castle. I love that movie, and have since also read the book. I highly recommend both.

I find the same to be true of myself, if I look back on my entrance into Steampunk, as it was the fashion designers (esp via Etsy!), the music and the brilliance of finding Steampunkesque elements threaded inside motion pictures which truly set the stage for me to organically follow this emerging interest in a genre I barely knew much about but was so thirsty to learn ‘more of’, like you, I followed my heart and continued to seek it out, exploring all of it and finding such a wicked sweet array of creatives and artisans!

I have heard of ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ but to be honest, it’s not one I have seen as of yet. I wasn’t quite sure if it was a good fit for me – wherein the remake of ‘The Three Musketeers’ with the airships truly was a wicked turn of finding how even classical stories can be happily re-envisioned!

I agree – I was a history buff throughout my years in school; I was drawn to History moreso than contemporary concepts and subjects because there was something so very alluring about the historical past. To step back through those folds of time and see the world the way it once was is something you don’t lose a passion for once you’ve found your niches in time. I never quite realised it but yes! Your quite champion to point out how Steampunk is a lovely blend of everything in Sci Fi & Fantasy whilst bending it into a new conceptionalised world of it’s own.

What do you feel you personally can identity as your main passions within the sub-culture of Steampunk? In regards to your favourite creators within the Steampunk world across mediums of creativity?

Hennessy responds: The aesthetics of Steampunk are certainly the biggest draw: muted colors paired with browns and golds, corsets, goggles, gears, steamships and airships. I love the side of Steampunk that’s often referred to as “Gaslight Fantasy”. Grounding Fantasy in a setting as hard and dirty as the Victorian and Edwardian Eras and the Industrial Revolution, rather than the distant past, almost makes the fantastical elements seem grander.

As for my favorite creators in the Steampunk genre, I’ll name Hayao Miyazaki for his films. Not all of them necessarily would be called Steampunk, but he’s one of my favorite filmmakers, so I’m including him.

For books, I’ve recently become a big fan of Gail Carriger. I’ve read her Parasol Protectorate series, and intend to read her other series as well.

For art, I’m a huge fan of Vadim Voitekhovich’s cityscape paintings, and of Catherinette Rings’ jewelry. I also greatly enjoy both of Lindsey Stirling’s Steampunk music videos: “Shatter Me” (view) and “Roundtable Rival” (view LIVE from London version).

Speaking on behalf of your Steampunk Creatives, I must give you my gratitude for pointing out Voitekhovich’s works! I browsed his galleries on DeviantArt and could not pick a ‘favourite of favourites’ from his creations because each ‘towne setting scene’ felt so wicked real it was hard to determine how he etched such a portrait of ‘life’ without any of it taking place in real-time! Even the airships and the train – they merge so eloquently into the back-drop, you defy your own knowledge and start to dream about how it would be to live in those scenes! Talk about an inspiring find for any writer!

I hadn’t come across the terminology distinguishing the separate timescapes of inspiration until you mentioned it – which is why I linked the Wikipedia article about it and cleverly found that it was originally coined quite recently; within the last six years! Reminds me of how I started to coin my own variant of interest inside ‘Horror’ by adding ‘Cosy Horror’ to the collective community of readers and writers who love a specific type of psychological suspense without the gruesome additives! I love finding new ways of expressing a specific type of story which hints towards it’s identity, so thank you!

Regards to Ms Carriger – she found me on Twitter and I enjoy her tweeting presence, but as far as digging inside her stories – they are readily available at my local library if I dared to read them, yet I hesitated. I wasn’t quite sure if I could appreciate them as a reader who likes a gentler side of Steampunk but occasionally doesn’t mind if it’s a bit edgier. I do commend her for what she’s given the Steampunk community in regards to connectiveness and outreach of fusing together those of us who have a Steampunk sensibility!

Your debut novel Grigory’s Gadget was conceived during the 2010 Nanowrimo challenge and re-invented during the 2014 Nanowrimo challenge; how did you approach re-attempting a story four years after it was first created? Did you find it a personal challenge to grab a hold of a world you had put down for so long or was it like walking back in through a door you’ve left open?

Hennessy responds: Grigory’s Gadget actually has a long, somewhat complicated history. The first draft of the story that would become Grigory’s Gadget was one I wrote over ten years ago. Back then, it was called “The Necklace of Time”. Instead of taking place in a fictional world, it took place in the modern world and involved time travel.

Before overhauling the story in 2010, I did away with the time travel for plot reasons, and began introducing the Russian/Soviet and Steampunk aesthetics into the story. After successfully completing NaNoWriMo in 2010, I became very frustrated while trying to edit Grigory’s Gadget.

Writing a novel in 30 days is a lot of fun, but it creates a very raw draft! I put it aside, and got swallowed up by the business of college. As I was finishing my Master’s degree, and my time started to become more flexible, I decided to pick up my writing again. I used my draft from 2010 to create a detailed outline of my story, then wrote a complete overhaul for NaNoWriMo 2014. It was a lot of fun to rediscover my story and my characters. Having the detailed outline helped prevent writers block, and allowed me to delve deeper into the story. The draft that came out of that month was much more manageable!

I participated in Nanowrimo 2008 as a complete larkspur suggestion of a creative friend of mine who felt it might be a good way for me to re-affirm my writerly path as she knew I was rutted a bit inside a writers vacuum of inactivity. I did not just win the challenge but like you, I had a solid layer of groundwork completed on a story which emerged out of the ethers – one I one day will continue forward on my (new) vintage Royal typewriter!

I am fascinated by the process you took to re-examine the story, the additions you felt were plausibly concurrent to your ideas and the re-entrance into the challenge which created it originally gave you the final dash of creative synergy to pull it all together! Quite a brilliant story, not disjointed nor complicated at all! In fact, it’s a mirrored reflection of how you became passionate about Steampunk – you followed your instincts!

How many books will be inside the Gaslight Frontier series? Do you think long-term in regards of the stories coming up next in line or outside of this series; or rather do you like to focus on the current story and go from there?

Hennessy responds: As of right now, I’m predicting that the Gaslight Frontier Series will be a trilogy. It’s funny: I’m definitely a planner when it comes to individual stories/novels, but I’m pantsing the series! I have a broad idea of how the series will go, but the specifics will be developed with each individual novel.

This doesn’t surprise me – sometimes I think we surprise ourselves moreso than our readers and/or fellow creatives. I think it speaks to how you organise your thoughts and how you work through the craft – your approach is how everything becomes a catalyst towards inking out the words onto the pages which knit your stories together. I wouldn’t alter your approach but rather appreciate it as your own unique writerly intuition!

What drew you to focus on the Dystopian angle which on the offset starts the Gaslight Frontier series?

Hennessy responds: In the 2010 version of Grigory’s Gadget, there were hardly any Dystopian elements. As I overhauled it in 2014, I felt like something was missing. The Dystopian elements raised the stakes and inspired me to deepen the world in which the story takes place.

I love how adding the Dystopian elements broadened the baseline of the story and yielded itself to a deeper state of being! Sometimes I think the greatest surprises in literature are the ones experienced by the writers whose stories not only enchant us but they get us to think outside the corridors we’ve already traversed to entertain worlds wholly different and new! Rock on!

On a personal note, as ‘Grigory’s Gadget’ is a story I one day want to read myself, this might be one of the ‘selective few’ Dystopian stories that meet my own inclinations within it’s scope!

What classical elements and neo-modern elements would you say might surprise readers to find inside Grigory’s Gadget? How did you go about researching the technology you used inside the story?

Hennessy responds: I mostly relied on Google to research technologies! There were also a few things that my wonderful editors at Writership caught. One piece of technology that I struggled with was radio. A majority of the story takes place at sea, but I didn’t want my characters completely alienated from the rest of the world. However, radio as we know it wasn’t widely used until the 20th century. I ultimately settled for wireless telegraphy, which felt more genuine.

I do find it curiously interesting how technology can place a great importance on the realism inside a specific time of reference and era. I have a particular interest in finding how writers root us as readers to the hour of time they choose to write about, giving only certain liberties for things outside that particular choice (i.e. I’m limited in what I’ll tolerant in other words); but for me, getting curled inside a story where all the technology is clearly more analog driven or even clearly distinctive in it’s ‘slow progression of arrival or completion of it’s tasks’ makes me giddy!

There is so much to run with inside the historical past and I think the use of telegraphs was a smart choice! Radio does have it’s limitations but telegraph communication can become intricate and complex; even easily able to manipulate and alter from it’s original origin of messages; yes, I can surely see why you picked it!

I also agree there is a heap of research on the internet – outside my mainstay of using libraries for digging into subject searches and queuing up a stack of lovelies in non-fiction!

Did you find your Environmental Engineer background a benefit to writing a Steampunk story or is the genre a bit out of the box from your own experiences and studies?

Hennessy responds: The main character of my story is herself an engineer, though she’s more of a mechanical engineer. While environmental and mechanical engineering are very different, there’s a solid basis upon which most engineering disciplines are built. But really, since most of the technology in the story is archaic, it all came back to doing research.

I am not as familiar with Engineering as a whole, and this is why I wanted to ask you to break it down a bit to make it easier to understand – not only for my benefit but for our readers, who might have wondered if there was enough of similarity to use as a cross-reference or only in theory, where your novel’s research would carry more of the weight. Champion response!

What went into your decision to be an Indie Author and to take a route outside the traditional method of publishing? What do you feel is the best benefit of this choice?

Hennessy responds: There are several reasons I chose to go the Indie route. First and foremost, I wanted complete creative control over my book: the editing, the design, the cover, etc. I also know that the traditional publishing process can be frustratingly long. It can take a long time to find an agent who likes you book, and for that agent to find a publisher for it. There’s also the fact that traditional publishers have been providing less and less marketing support for their authors, unless those authors are already established. Ultimately, I felt that it made more sense to put my time and effort into self-publishing.

I whole-heartedly agreed with your sentiments – which is one reason I love seeking out stories writ by Indie Authors (i.e. I showcase a heap of Indies, Self-Pub and Hybrid writers on #JLASblog!) as they are passionately pursuing a niche in the Industry which fetches my own eye of interest! The only time I have found myself a bit surprised by a few differences are with select Hybrid and/or Indie publishers who are re-setting the norm of what a non-Major Trade publisher can provide their authors.

However, like you – every writer has to decide how much ‘creative control’ and ‘residual return’ they want to personally have the ability to green-light; thus why there will continuously be many avenues to explore in this new era of publishing!

As Grigory’s Gadget grew in audience and awareness through a crowd-funding campaign. What did you take away from this experience as being a unique tool for self-generating the start of your career? Was there a downside?

Hennessy responds: The crowdfunding campaign really helped bring some excitement to the publication process. It made my novel feel like a real thing, not just a story in my head anymore. I wound up raising more than half of the money I needed for editing and cover design. I would say the only downside is that it was more work than I was expecting, but it was worth it!

I thought for sure I had released the post, wherein I had composed a special shout-out to my readers to help you with your campaign but sadly, it hasn’t yet surfaced! I wanted to help others’ find your novel but also, to find your Twitter feeds and sites! It’s such a wonderful community (on Twitter) for both readers and writers but also for book bloggers – the whole of book world is on there! It’s just wicked sweet we get to break down barriers and be each others cheerleader at any given point in time!

I definitely celebrated reading how you raised half of what you needed and that the campaign itself helped strengthen your presence in the Steampunk community where new readers could find you!

How did you source the artist for your book’s cover but also for your series overall look and familiarity? What were you looking for when you found an artist who could take your vision to reality?

Hennessy responds: I researched a lot of artists to find one that a) I could afford and b) had consistently high-quality covers for books in the Steampunk genre. For I while, I was feeling a little overwhelmed and discouraged. I thought I was going to settle for a pre-made cover. It wasn’t an ideal choice, but it was affordable and better than anything I could create on my own. Then I found Deranged Doctor Designs. Their prices are very fair, and I loved working with them. They have great artists, and you really feel that they’re invested in your book.

I took a gander at the collective portfolio of Deranged Doctor Designs (now that’s a creative name for a company!) not expecting what I found as the name alone was quite ‘unique’. I love the vibe they are creating with the black background on their site against the eye-pop of their colours (via the book cover designs) in combination with their typography and graphic overlays to create the ‘first look’ of each of their projects. I even liked their philosophy of designing book covers and blessedly loved how they create individually unique covers without relying on a repetitive release of ‘known covers’ which I think is saturating the market too much.

I *love!* the cover for “Grigory’s Gadget” because it’s as if they brought to light what you might lay an impression on finding inside it’s chapters. This is always something I am most critical about when it comes to covers – does it match the concept of a story or is it so off the wall disconnected it’s hard to understand the cover’s motivation? Truly. You did a wicked brilliant job in finding them! I hope they get to do the trilogy (and/or the continuations) as they would look so impressive as a triptych!

As Steampunk has the tendency to have strong ties to the historical past, what do you feel are the best attributes with a genre which is self-evolving per each person who enters its field?

Hennessy responds: I think a lot of people are intrigued by history, but most of the time that history is static (until we invent a time machine!). In Steampunk, you can play around with and rearrange history. You can pick and choose what aspects you like about history, and change other aspects. There’s a lot of room for pure fun, as well as for political and social commentary.

Oh, my dear ghouls – did you hit the nail on the proverbial head with this response! I love how Steampunk keeps bending it’s will towards each writer’s personal interpretation of the genre but also, gives the genre a re-developing evolution with each way their creative influences contributes to the whole of what is being presented! I never thought I’d appreciate ‘Alternative History’ in fiction but when it comes to Steampunk I never even blink twice! Ironic? Now, it took me half a moon’s age to try a proper Alt Hist novel late last year, but sometimes I think I overthink such things; definitely gave me something to chew on!

As Steampunk fits within the umbrella of Speculative Fiction, how did you first emerge into its depths and how did you find yourself led to explore its many avenues of curious thought?

Hennessy responds: I found Steampunk very organically. I’ve always loved Speculative Fiction, especially Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Steampunk is like a blend of those two genres. It’s rooted in Science Fiction, but makes room for Fantasy.

I think it’s the only route to take when it comes to Steampunk! There are new deviants of the genre now (i.e. Diselpunk, Cyberpunk, etc) whilst one of my favourite finds is “Clockpunk” as it deals with automations! Even Weird West has a particular allure as I read a heap of lovelies set in the Wild West, Americana or early Colonial periods of history. The open frontier and all-points West truly shaped most of the offerings, so Weird West definitely has my interest! Especially if you take into account “Rango” voiced so brilliantly by Depp!

Any which way you can dabble with Fantasy and insert it into Science Fiction is going to be a winner for me! This is one reason I adore ‘Sci-Fantasy’ where traditional stories of SF are re-defined with Fantasy attributes!

What do you think is the most misconstrued perception about people who love Steampunk? And how does this apply to you personally as well?

Hennessy responds: I think a lot of perceptions about people who love Steampunk are generally the same as those about any other group of “nerds” or “geeks”. People who are not familiar with or not interested in the genre might see Steampunks as strange or eccentric. I don’t see a problem with that, though. Weird eccentric people are my favorite!

Definitely concur with your final assessment! I am the passionate bookishly geeky girl who has embraced Steampunk culture & the genre of stories which give us a new dimension to explore ‘possibilities’ as the good Doctor in Who keeps addressing as the best way to go forward with curiously curious hope.

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E.A. Hennessy

E. A. Hennessy is an author of fantasy and science fiction novels. Since childhood, whenever she happened upon a wishing well or other wish-granting object her wish would be the same: she wanted to go on an adventure. And so, she wrote the types of adventures on which she’d like to embark. E. A. Hennessy lives in Buffalo, NY where she works as an environmental engineer. When she isn’t writing or working, she can be found dancing and making nerdy-themed candles.

Site | Blog | @ea_hennessy | Facebook | Tumblr

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I’d like to take a moment to give a note of gratitude to Ms Hennessy for pushing forward her interview to this Thursday, as we originally were working towards a later date; her enthused response and openness to set a shorter deadline truly moved me as it was such a special treat to be able to run this showcase ‘early’!

I am hoping as your making your way through a ‘Steampunk’ blogosphere route, your stay with us today has been one that inspires seeking out a new author but also, new creatives across mediums you might not have stumbled across until Ms Hennessy broached their names and gave a small nod towards their creative styles.

Kindly leave your comments, thoughts and musings in our comment threads, as I am quite sure Ms Hennessy will be positively delighted to hear what you have to share!

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In closing, I’d like to give a s/o to our dedicated new readers of whom are happily providing us wicked sweet feedback via our Intro to the Cavaliers post and/or are interacting with us on Twitter! Bless you! Also, if you’ve enjoyed this convo between Ms Hennessy and I, kindly know I listed a bit about what I’m seeking during my interview features on our Policies page.

We thank you for taking this journey with us and hope you will continue to be a part of our growing story here on The Steampunk Cavaliers where we are striving to create community and interaction within the Steampunk tribe!

If you would like me to interview you about your steampunk sensibility and why this is a wicked favourite genre of yours, kindly contact me via #JLASblog!

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{SOURCES: Book Cover for “Grigory’s Gadet”, book synopsis, author biography and author photograph of E.A. Hennessy were provided by the author E.A. Hennessy and used with permission. Conversations of Steampunk banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Pierre Rougier. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via}

Copyright © Jorie Story of Jorie Loves A Story as a contributor piece on behalf of The Steampunk Cavaliers, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Author: Jorie Story

Jorie is an active book blogger and Joyful Tweeter who has a passionate respect and appreciation for Steampunk culture, art, music and stories. On a larkspur meeting with Dianna Gunn during #K8Chat, Jorie pitched her hat to become a part of what led to The Steampunk Cavaliers!

7 thoughts on “Author Interview | Conversing with E.A. Hennessy an Indie Author who used crowd-funding to launch her debut novel “Grigory’s Gadget”!”

  1. Hi Guys!

    What an in depth, informative interview! I’ll definitely be adding Grigory’s Gadget to my list.

    I’m a huge Miyazaki fan as well and although I’ve always thought of Final Fantasy IX as my introduction to steampunk, now that I’m thinking about it I saw Howl’s Moving Castle at pretty much the same time–it would be impossible to say which I saw first.

    Keep writing and sharing your awesome steampunk stuff!


    1. Thank you, so much!

      I enjoyed working on this interview with Ms Hennessy – not only in sorting out the questions I wanted to ask her to get a hearty discussion about Steampunk and her personal sensibility towards it’s culture, but I wanted to start to build a conversation in our comment threads, where we can invite others to weigh in and share their thoughts as well. I’m starting to think I’ve missed out on something with “Howl’s Moving Castle”!

      1. Howl’s Moving Castle is anime, Japanese animation, so I understand it isn’t for everyone but it’s one of the best animated movies out there. If you’re into animation, you’ve definitely missed out–on Miyazaki in general, actually.

  2. This is a terrific interview that will be interesting to anyone who wants to publish an independent novel.

    I like Hennessy’s reply about steampunk blending speculative fiction and neo-Victorian fiction. This is what first attracted me to the genre as well.


    1. I was hoping other writers would take a lot positive points away from this conversation, as I felt Ms Hennessy had a lot of guidance to share for new and emerging authors who are just starting their careers. I loved finding out about the history of how she started via the crowd-funding but also, how she found the cover artists, etc.

      I’m so happy you loved hearing about how she entered the Steampunk community! This was something I was striving to have shared as I moved forward with the conversations I’m bringing to the blog! I thought it would be lovely to see how we all were first attracted to Steampunk!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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