Title:Â Rebel Mechanics
Author:Â Shanna Swendson
Format:Â Paperback, 320 Pages
Publishing Information:Â 7/14/2015 Farrar, Straus and Giroux
A sixteen-year-old governess becomes a spy in this alternative U.S. history where the British control with magic and the colonists rebel by inventing. ItÂ’s 1888, and sixteen-year-old Verity Newton lands a job in New York as a governess to a wealthy leading familyÂ—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 magisterÂ—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 familyÂ’s life. She soon realizes sheÂ’s uniquely positioned to advance the causeÂ—but to do so, sheÂ’ll have to reveal her own dangerous secret.
Today I’m so excited to welcome Shanna Swendson to my blog. She has a really great looking book coming out. I’m especially excited about it because I love Steampunk! She’s here today writing about inspiration and what inspires her writing. Â She’s also been kind enough to offer a giveaway, so be sure to scroll all the way to the end! Please welcome Shanna Swendson
I’m often asked what inspires me as a writer, and that’s a difficult question to answer because there are so many things that can trigger an idea, but I’ve finally figured out what it really comes down to: people!
When you think about it, a novel is about people reacting to their circumstances. Writing a novel means figuring out what makes characters tick so you know how they’d react to things and what would motivate them to take action. The same thing applies to the real world, except you just get to observe people instead of making them do things (well, you shouldn’t make them do things, though it can be fun to play mind games occasionally).
People may be frustrating and annoying at times, but they’re also fascinating and beautiful. I like hearing their stories and learning what they’ve been through or what they want to do. I actually enjoy traveling alone because that means I’m more likely to interact with the new people around me than just with the familiar person I’m with. I can chat with people I meet along the way and learn about them, or I can just observe and eavesdrop. I’ve talked to musicians playing in bars and heard stories about playing with big bands, listened to mothers’ hopes for their children, and heard a lot of war stories.
When you think about it, history is really just stories about people. When it’s taught by making students memorize dates and events, teachers are doing it wrong because the events are all about decisions people have made. Why did these particular people make those particular decisions, and what were the consequences? That’s why writing alternate history is so much fun. I can change something and see how that would change the way people react. I can put people in entirely different circumstances and see what happens.
The main character in my novel Rebel Mechanics came from thinking about a person. I’d gone to an antique show with some friends, and one of the booths had a whole box of old photos that looked like department store photo studio portraits from the 1800s. I felt a bit sad about all these pictures that really should have been with their families, and my friends and I flipped through the box, wondering who these people were. There was one photo of a young woman who just spoke to me, and I ended up buying it. My friends and I started speculating on who she was and where she came from, and then I realized that she was the perfect heroine for the novel I had brewing in my mind. Once I knew who the main character was, the novel fell into place around her. I don’t know that my mental image of her still matches the old photo, but I feel like I’ve given new life to this mysterious young lady from the past.
Don’t miss the giveaway below!