About The Sunken
Author: Steff Green
Genre: Steampunk Dark Fantasy
In the heart of London lies the Engine Ward, a district forged in coal and steam, where the great Engineering Sects vie for ultimate control of the country. For many, the Ward is a forbidding, desolate place, but for Nicholas Thorne, the Ward is a refuge. He has returned to London under a cloud of shadow to work for his childhood friend, the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Deep in the Ward’s bowels, Nicholas can finally escape his strange affliction – the thoughts of animals that crowd his head. But seeing Brunel interact with his mechanical creations, Nicholas is increasingly concerned that his friend may be succumbing to the allure of his growing power. That power isn’t easily cast aside, and the people of London need Brunel to protect the streets from the prehistoric monsters that roam the city.
King George III has approved Brunel’s ambitious plan to erect a Wall that would shut out the swamp dragons and protect the city. But in secret, the King cultivates an army of Sunken: men twisted into flesh-eating monsters by a thirst for blood and lead. Only Nicholas and Brunel suspect that something is wrong, that the Wall might play into a more sinister purpose–to keep the people of London trapped inside.
Steff lives in an off-grid house on a slice of rural paradise near Auckland, New Zealand, with her cantankerous drummer husband, their two cats, and their medieval sword collection. The first CD she ever brought was Metallica’s ‘Ride the Lightning’, and she’s been a card-carrying member of the black-t-shirt brigade ever since.
Steff writes about metal music, her books, living off-grid, and her adventures with home-brewing on her blogwww.steffmetal.com. She writes humorous fantasy under the name Steff Metal, and dark, dystopian fantasy under S. C. Green. Her latest novel, The Sunken, explores an alternative Georgian London where dinosaurs still survive.
Tell us about your latest book.
The Sunken is the first book in the four-part Engine Ward series. The Engine Ward is a district in the heart of London, forged in coal and steam, where the great Engineering Sects vie for ultimate control of the country. There, the upstart engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, attempts to win his fortune by solving the greatest threat London has faced – the vicious swamp dragons that are attacking her citizens. It all gets very dark and interesting as Brunel's power increases and Nicholas Thorne,the protagonist, discovers what King George is hiding in Windsor castle …
Where did the idea for the book come from?
I actually wrote the third book in the series, Thorn, first. The idea from that book came when I was touring around Europe with my husband and two friends. My husband had recently developed an obsession with trains, and so we were visiting lots of steam engines, and old rail yards, and I started to get interested in the industrial revolution and the engineers that had first conceived of these beasts. Seeds of the idea started growing then. When we returned to NZ we started volunteering at a local non profit who restore old steam locomotives, so I got really interested in the way the engines worked, and some of the other technology of the era. I wrote a scene about a girl hunting a tricerotops in a swamp with an early form of automatic weapon, and the whole story just grew around that scene.
Who and what inspire you to write?
Everything! I love to learn, so I'm often inspired by events or people I read about or learn about in museums or from lectures. I learnt about Isambard Kingdom Brunel at the York Railway Museum in England, and then got interested in his life and inventions. I then read an amazing book called “The Most Powerful Idea in the World” about the evolution of steam technology, and those two things formed the basis for a lot ofthe ideas in this series.
Each author has his or her own inspiring journey. How did you begin writing?
I don't really remember. I've always loved to write and draw and invent imaginary worlds. When I was in primary school I wrote a series of (atthe time, quite long) short stories about my cat, Benji, who was a famous detective. He solved mysteries like the case of the Golden Catbiscuit and the Mystery of the Egyptian Bast Statue. Growing up, I always said I would be an archaeologist, AND an artist, AND an author. And I've been lucky enough to be all of those things.
What has been the most pleasant surprise about writing? How about an unexpected down side?
Pleasant surprise: That readers don't actually know the difference between self-publishing and trad-publishing. I was so worried when I madethe decision to self-pub that people would think I was a hack because I couldn't get a “proper” writing contract. And then I was talking to some friends (readers, not writers) about it, and realised they had no idea about how publishing actually worked. I realised that if I produced a quality product, no one cared whether I got an advance or which publishing house was on the spine. That was a big revelation to me.
And an unexpected downside I guess is negative reviews. They sting a little, but at the end of the day, not everyone can like your stuff. You've got to respect those who don't just as much as those who do.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I try to write 1000 words a day. I don't always succeed, but I try, and sometimes that's the important thing. Other than that, I don't really have any specific rituals. I write for a living, and one thing about that is that you have to learn to write everywhere, whatever the situation, or you don't eat.
Do you write your books in order?
Haha, as you've already heard, I can't even write a SERIES in order! No, I usually write the scene that's foremost in my mind when I sit down. Usually they are more or less in order, but not always. I write very rough drafts, with lots of “INSERT THAT BIT HERE” and “THIS IS WRONG – GO BACK AND CHANGE THAT CHARACTER INTO A MONKEY”, and then tidy it all up in editing. For me, editing is where the magic happens and all the bits of the story slot into place.
What is on your writing playlist for this book?
Haha, funny you should ask! I've actually posted my playlist here on my blog (I write about music a lot) – Steff's Sunken Playlist (http://www.steffmetal.com/metal-mixtape-the-sunken-steampunk-playlist/) – it includes songs by Jordan Reyne, Nick Cave, Fear Factory and this awesome punk band called The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing.
Any favorite writing snacks?
Whittakers chocolate, especially the peanut butter block. And it's one of the few chocolate flavours my husband HATES, which means he won't steal it all before I can get to it!
What advice would you give writers who aspire to be published?
You learn from every book you write, but not every book you write should be published. I have a whole series of adventure novels I wrote as a teen that I won't publish. I have 1.5 adult vampire horror novels I wrote as an adult that will never be published. The experience of writing those books taught me what I need to know to write my current books.
With self-publishing, you can be a published writer, all of your own accord. There's power in that. Being published won't mean you are automatically rich and famous, however. But you will be published, and people will read your words, and there's something very wonderful about that. Be proud of what you've achieved, and don't lose perspective by chasing those elusive dollars. Just publish more.
Seek advice from people who are extremely honest, extremely well-read, and extremely blunt. Their feedback may sting a little, but you need that constructive criticism before the book hits the market. I'd rather have an editor who'll tear my manuscript to pieces in the early stages, than a reviewer tear it to pieces later.
Are you working on anything new right now?
I'm trying to finish the second book in the Engine Ward series, The Gauge War. I'm 3/4 of the way through – hoping to have the draft finished by the end of October to send off to beta readers. The third book in the series is finished, and the forth is barely started.
I've also written about 5k words of a new book – the first in a dystopian series with what I think is a pretty unique twist and two protagonists I'm really excited about – and I'm hoping to start pounding away at that, too, after The Gauge War is finished.
Who is your favorite character in your current book?
James Holman, the blind adventurer, is the “narrator” of the series. A lot of my characters are based on historical figures, and real-life Holman happens to be one of my heroes. He was known as the Blind Traveller, because he went completely blind at age 23 and set off to circumnavigate the globe on foot. He got arrested as a spy in Siberia, rode an elephant, and helped to map Australia. I feel really bad about some of the things I do to his character in my books, but he's the most fun to write.
What is your favorite book of all time?
That's a tough one! Probably two of the most influential books for me are Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes books.
Tell us in one sentence why we should read your book.
Dinosaurs in a dystopian Georgian London.