Soup of the day: With Kara Jorgensen
Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since The Chronic Agronauts utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats, but I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running this little soup kitchen for the street urchins. There certainly are a lot of them and I’m always looking for helping hands to cook up and serve something delicious!
Helping me this morning is Steampunk writer Kara Jorgensen, author if the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series. Good morning Kara, thankyou so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Tell me, have you brought along some soup to share with us?
Here is a recipe for Irish beer cheese soup. http://www.aspicyperspective.com/irish-beer-cheese-soup/2/ I love cheese, and while I’m not a fan of beer, this soup is one of my favourites, especially in a bread bowl.
Mmm, it smells delicious, I’m sure the little urchins will enjoy it immensely. Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t you tell us all a little more about your writing? Did you always want to be a writer?
For as long as I can remember, I have loved writing. When I was little, I would visit my grandma at work and peck out stories on her electric typewriter. For a while, it was melodramas with my dolls, but in middle school, I really started to write more seriously and try to write an entire novel. It didn’t work. It wasn’t until I was in university that I realized writing had been my passion all along.
And what inspired you to write in the Steampunk genre in particular?
I’ve always had a soft spot for the Victorian Era. I loved Sherlock Holmes and period dramas, so when I realized that steampunk afforded me the ability to manipulate and rewrite the past while still dabbling in medicine, science, and magic, I couldn’t help but join in. There’s also a lot of dualities in the Victorian Era that make it interesting: science v. pseudo-science, morals v. sensuality, utilitarian v. luxurious brocades and corsets, massive wealth v. sinfully poor. Steampunk is an incredibly diverse genre, and that diversity allows me to write things that may not work in straight-up scifi or historical fiction.
Are there any particular writers who you feel have influenced or inspired your writing?
Probably every writer I’ve ever read influences me in one way or another, but my main influences are probably Oscar Wilde, Anne Rice, and historical-fantasy writers like K.J. Charles and Jordan L. Hawk. Charles and Hawk write fantastic historical-fantasy stories featuring LGBT characters, and in Rice is in the same vein, though I probably pull more from her use of atmosphere and description. With Wilde, I think it’s more of what he stood for. He was in his heyday in the 1890s when my stories take place, so he is that typical Victorian genius, full of wit, excess, and all the dualities of the period.
Your books are wonderfully detailed, which gives the impression that either you are an expert on archaeology, history, mechanics, prosthetics and a dozen other subjects at least, or you do a fair amount of research before you begin to write… which is it?
Research is the best and worst part of writing historical-fantasy. I love learning about new cultures, history, whatever I can get my hands on, but it eats up a lot of time. Sometimes I find myself winging it because I just want to write. This leads to having to fact-check everything during the revision process. The great thing about writing steampunk and historical-fantasy is that it lets me dabble in all of the subjects I love, including history, mechanics, medicine, and of course, archaeology.
In the first book, The Earl Of Brass, we meet Eilian and Hadley; two engaging, headstrong characters whose developing friendship runs as a background theme throughout the book. Together they show the reader the prejudices of the world in which they live and this adds a welcome layer of depth to this romantic adventure. Tell me Kara, do you think it is important for science fiction to comment on and challenge the notions of the past, present and possible future in this way?
I definitely do. When I think back at the books I’ve read, I’m often drawn most to those that made me see the world differently. Anne Rice’s books made me aware at a young age that not everyone was straight, white, or free to do as they pleased, and that altered my thinking and made me more aware of the struggles of “the other.” Books are a society’s written history, veiled through motifs that less threatening than flat-out saying we are doing x, y, and z wrong as a society. People are more likely to listen and enact change if they can sympathize or empathize with the person struggling, and what better way to do that than through compelling characters.
The second book is perhaps a little darker than the first and we meet some new characters, and a new Ingenious Device, would you like to tell us a bit about that?
The Gentleman Devil is the second book in the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series, and it moves away from the adventuring aspect of steampunk and into the mad scientist side of things. The story begins with a teenage medium nearly drowning in the Thames and being rescued by an Oxford student with a family heirloom that can resurrect the dead and inadvertently ties their souls together. Of course, a potion that can revive the dead or grant immortality would be very useful for some less than moral characters, and Emmeline and Immanuel end up in deep trouble. Luckily, the latter also finds love, and Emmeline learns more about herself and her future in the process.
How many books are there in the series so far (and will there be any more) ?
As of right now, there are four books out, and I’m writing the fifth, which should be out by summer time. I also have ideas for at least two more stories in the series, which would bring the series to seven stories. Besides the books, there are two companion short stories. One is a romantic romp between Adam and Immanuel that occurs between books two and three, and the other is a prequel that shows how and why Eilian decided to ditch nobility in favor of adventure.
And besides the books, where else can we read your work?
Before my books are published, I always post chapters on my website along with lots of teasers. When you join my newsletter, you get a free short story entitled, “The Errant Earl,” which is the prequel I previously mentioned.
Do you have any new projects or releases planned that we can get excited about?
Yes, I’m currently working on the fifth book in the series, I’m really looking forward to sharing it with everyone once it’s complete. It features Adam and Immanuel as they venture to an island in search of some strange, humanoid sea creatures. After that, I’m hoping to tackle another story featuring Eilian and Hadley off on an adventure and Emmeline, my bratty, sassy heroine will get a story of her own.
And now the all important question which do you sup to inspire you when you write, coffee or tea? (and how do you take it?)
Coffee is my go-to drink. I love a dark roast with some half-and-half and a bit of milk. At that point I’m probably drink three-quarters rather than half-and-half, but I love the mellowing effect it has on a dark roast… and that it makes it cool enough to drink in a timely manner.
Well thankyou so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Kara, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and learn more about your writing. I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready and the little urchins have their rosy noses pushed up against the glass in anticipation so shall we start dishing it up?
Sounds great to me. Thank you so much for having me and for cooking up some soup for us. If anyone would like to receive a free short story along with information regarding future books and projects, I hope they will join my newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bfJTW9
Wonderful, I hope you will all join me in the soup kitchen next week when I will have another very special guest helping me so until then,
Blessings on your brew my dears!