I’m delighted to welcome to my blog, Steampunk author Felicity Banks whose debut Heart of Brass is released today! Happy Publication Day!!
At what age did you start writing?
I was seven years old the first time I attempted to write a novel. It featured cats, naturally. I have two children of my own now, which has given me a new perspective on the many illegal activities of my heroines. My daughter is four, and an excellent storyteller. She once told me she couldn’t go and wash her hands because there was a bear in the hallway. That was the beginning of many hours of free entertainment for me. My son is two, and loves the absurd and fantastic. He once drew a picture of me with wings, so I could fly. I also have a cat who brings live mice into the house and does her best to pretend she’s the injured party.
I’ve written fourteen books altogether, not counting an ever-increasing number of Choose Your Own Adventure-style interactive books (all of which are listed and linked under “Felicity Banks” at the Interactive Fiction Database ifdb.tads.org).
“Heart of Brass” was my third book to be accepted, but the first to be published.
Because the interactive fiction world moves faster than the world of print, “Heart of Brass” already has two interactive sequels. “After the Flag Fell” is included with the novel (the main character is one of the minor characters from the novel), and “Attack of the Clockwork Army” is available as an app through various platforms (it allows you to play as one of Emmeline’s siblings, if you wish). Right now I’m writing an huge interactive tale set in the same universe as “Heart of Brass”, but it is set in 1837 Britain (before Emmeline was born) and doesn’t involve Australia (or spoilers). It will begin release on 17 August 2016, with a new section of the story released as an app each week for forty weeks. The publisher is Melbourne-based company Tin Man Games.
I’m delighted and astonished at the huge number of people who are obsessed with app-based interactive fiction. After all these years of writing, I suddenly find myself with readers around the world waiting for my next story!
What’s your background? Where are you from?
The answer to both is Canberra. It’s the middle of July now and I’m in my annual semi-hibernating state until September.
Who are your favourite authors? Who Inspires you?
I adore Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series, Pamela Freeman’s Castings series, Philip Reeve’s Larklight trilogy, anything by Gail Carriger, Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series, the Narnia series by CS Lewis, the Samurai Kids series by Sandy Fussell, anything by Naomi Novik, the Quarters series by Tanya Huff, the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter, the Woodcutter Sisters series by Alethea Kontis, the Fairyland series by Catherynne M. Valente, the Wind on Fire trilogy by William Nicholson, and so on!
I usually read young adult fantasy, because I like a fast-moving plot that also gives me the sense that absolutely anything could happen. Plus young adult books usually (although not always) have less intense sex and violence. I realised quite a while ago that I get terribly bored writing anything without magic, so my own steampunk tales also feature a unique magic system.
Tell me a little about heart of brass.
I really wanted to write a steampunk story set in Australia—the land of droughts, dreamers, bushrangers, gold rushes, convicts, etc. But I’m not a historian! So before I even wrote an outline I started by reading, reading, reading. Some of my favourite non-fiction writers are Liza Picard (“Victorian London” is wonderful), Krista D. Ball (“Hustlers, Harlots, and Heroes” is as good as it sounds), Ruth Goodman (“How to be a Victorian”, including her own experiments), Susanne Alleyn (“Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders”, which is surprisingly useful for the Victorian Era), Bill Bryson (“At Home”—Bryson usually writes funny travel books), and Geoffrey Blainey (for absolutely everything Australian). My overwhelming impression from all the research I conducted was that history is far madder than you might think. Cross-dressing (both ways)? Mad scientists? Bizarre contraptions? Famous lesbians? Charming rogues? Cannibalism? Villains? Heroes? It’s all there.
Heart of Brass is a tale of a convict woman whose life was ruined by one small crime… but who quickly discovered that her life wasn’t ruined after all. It’s a tale of a nation and a person realising that high society isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s a tale of daring escapes, duels, and literal flight. It’s an Australian story through and through, despite and because of the fact that none of the characters think of themselves as Australian. It’s a tale about a heart that’s powered by magic and steam, but is just as faulty and inconvenient as the usual kind.
heart of brass
Emmeline Muchamore is a well-bred young lady hiding explosive family secrets.
She needs to marry well, and quickly, in order to keep her family respectable. But when her brass heart malfunctions, she makes a desperate choice to steal the parts she needs to repair it and survive.
She is unable to explain her actions without revealing she has a steam-powered heart, so she is arrested for theft and transported to Victoria, Australia – right in the midst of the Gold Rush.
Now that she’s escaped the bounds of high society, iron manacles cannot hold her for long.
The only metal that really matters is gold.
Felicity Banks is a Canberra author specialising in fantasy and interactive fiction, including several Choose Your Own Adventure-style stories that take place in the same magical steampunk universe as Heart of Brass. All her interactive fiction is listed under “Felicity Banks” at http://ifdb.tads.org and most of her interactive fiction can be read as an app.
Heart of Brass is her thirteenth completed novel, her third novel accepted for publication, and her first novel to be published.