Wednesday, December 7, 2011 | By: Angela Brown

Who's That in the Spotlight: Brooke Johnson, Steampunk Powered

***Attention ladies and gentlemen...and not-so-gentle men, I'd like to note that today starts DIY Christmas over at Maria Zannini's blog.  Please enjoy today's guest post then strut your writerly stuff on over to Maria's.***

Now, I am proud to have Brooke Johnson visiting today for an author spotlight.
Ever since she was a little girl, Brooke had a love of building long-forgotten, fantastical worlds, and as she grew up, and the worlds became more complex and the characters came to life, she found that she didn't have enough Legos to do them justice. Convinced it was her destiny to create, she delved into fantasy writing, spinning tales of princes and wizards and dragons—stories to act out during recess, illustrate in the margins of her notebooks, and live in on those long bus rides to and from school. She had an equal fascination for clocks that no one could explain, collecting timepieces of all shapes and sizes over the course of her childhood and teenage years.

Brooke's love of fantasy never wavered, neither did her passion for clocks. In college, she endeavored to conquer the genre fiction naysayers, championing her cause through the university's literary journal. She encountered Dungeons & Dragons, developed a love of Eastern mythology, and discovered steampunk, the perfect outlet for her clockwork obsession.

Now married and living in Northwest Arkansas with her husband and dog, she spends her days scrambling around the vast landscape of her imagination, the fantastical worlds of princes and wizards on one side and the towering, brass cities of automatons and engineers on the other.

Now here's Brooke to share with us about how she took the bull by the horns with steampunk power.

Before The Clockwork Giant, I had never written anything but traditional fantasy—witches, dragons, the whole sword and sorcery shebang. Fantasy has always been my passion. It was my favorite genre in both reading and writing, and until I got the idea for The Clockwork Giant, I thought I’d never write anything but.

As fate would have it, however, I discovered a new genre, one that I had always loved but never knew the official term for it—steampunk. After several friends recommended it to me, I read Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan. I loved it. Now, in my opinion, it isn’texactly steampunk, or what I think steampunk should be. However, it opened a whole new genre of books to me. I then searched for more steampunk books, and though I found several, they all had a dose of fantasy in them—Leviathan the exception. I didn’t want vampires, werewolves, or zombies. I wanted science.

In my mind, true steampunk was a celebration of Victorian science. No vampires. No werewolves. No magic of any kind.  Which was a strange sort of definition for me, seeing as I’d been so thoroughly absorbed into fantasy for so long. Especially since I never had the desire to read science fiction. I had read a little bit for classes and stuff, but I always found science fiction dull and too technology-oriented.

When it came to steampunk, I wanted something different. I wanted science. But I couldn’t find the steampunk novel I wanted to read. I searched for a long time, looking for something both fascinating and entertaining, something without any paranormal aspects. My desire to read a definitive steampunk novel grew, until one night, while lying awake in bed, I had an idea. I could write it. Somehow, I knew that I’d never find the novel I wanted to read. No matter how many hours I spent searching Barnes & Noble or Amazon, that story would forever elude me. No. If I wanted that book, then I’d have to write it. I am a writer after all. It made sense.

But I was afraid.

I had never written anything but fantasy. I’d only ever read one steampunk book. How could I have the audacity to write a steampunk novel? I quickly dismissed the idea, hoping that I’d find the book I wanted to read and be satisfied.

At the time, I was writing a fantasy novel, one I had been working on for over a year, one that had attracted the interest of two agents who ultimately passed, one that I had lost all enthusiasm for. I was stuck, and after a week of not writing and not wanting to write, I started to consider trying the steampunk novel.

My new, fabulous friend Darby Karchut encouraged me. She suggested it might just be the next new thing for me. If nothing else, it might get my creative juices flowing. So I then committed to research the genre, and bounced ideas around in my head.

And like all good ideas, while I was lying awake one night, it came to me.

A machine is truth.

So simple, yet profound. It evolved into the first two sentences of my book to be.

A machine is more that its moving parts. The gears, pinions, and springs, they make the machine tick, but deeper than that, a machine is truth.

From those two sentences, I discovered the world of Chroniker City, and there, I found Petra.

The rest is history.

Now that the book is ready to be devoured by the reading public, I’m glad that I took a chance on steampunk. I am just as much in love with the story now as I was when I first came up with the idea, and it opened up a plethora of writing options. I think I could write anything now. As afraid as I was to write steampunk, I conquered it. I owned it. And now, nothing scares me. Not even space operas or fantasy epics.

Have a peak at her work:

About The Clockwork Giant:

It's 1881, the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Chroniker City, the global hub of technological advancement in the modern world. Based off the British coast, the city is home to the most prestigious polytechnic university worldwide, a center of mechanical ingenuity teaching everything from clockwork mechanics and thermodynamics to electromagnetism and electricity.

Petra Wade, self-taught clockwork engineer, dreams of one day becoming a member of the Guild, an elite group of inventors and innovators who envision a future fueled by technology, but her ambitions will only come to fruition if she can find a way into the illustrious university—an institution reserved for men only. When she meets Emmerich Goss, an accomplished engineer newly recruited into the Guild, Petra discovers that he needs help building a top-secret, government-sanctioned automaton, and she is just the girl to help him.

Together, they craft the clockwork giant, and as the deadline for its completion nears, Petra finds that she can love more than gears and mainsprings.

Here are some places you can find Brooke:
Facebook: Brooke Johnson
Twitter: @brookenomicon
Google+: Brooke Johnson
Goodreads: Brooke Johnson 

I'm all a-giggle and can't wait for her release.  Mark your calendars for December 13th.  The Clockwork Giant will be available in Kindle, Nook and paperback.

Now, about steampunk.  Have you read a steampunk novel?  If so, please provide the title.  If you aren't sure, then guess what?  You aren't alone.  I hadn't known I was in love with it until I read Leviathan myself and realized I'd read other books like it.  Call me late to the party :-) 


Ciara said...

I loved Laviathan, too. Although, I have to admit the walkers were just AT AT's from Star Wars. I, too, thought I'd always stick with straight fantasy and paranormal, but I've written a biopunk. I didn't even know that's what I wrote. LOL. Good luck with your book, it sounds like a great read. I'm off to check it out.

Maria Zannini said...

Congrats, Brooke and welcome!!

Ref: steampunk
I read what was probably the "original" steampunk novel though it was set in the distant future. Frank Herbert's DUNE.

If you examine the tech in DUNE, it's not much different than today's steampunk tech.

I find it odd that I haven't seen anyone give a nod to DUNE yet. Is it too old for today's readers?

PS Thanks for the shout-out, Angela. :o)

Angela Cothran said...

I think this book sounds so cool. Great interview :) Thanks for the introduction Angela.

E.R. King said...

Anyone who can write steampunk is a marvel to me. I love the genre, but could never write it myself.
Excellent interview!

Angela Brown said...

Ciara - I can't remember who referred me to Leviathan but that was such a wonderful read. And yeah, even when you look at the art, they look so much like the walkers from Star Wars.

Maria - Dune is on my too read list. I'll have to check out the tech used while I'm reading it. Thanks for the book title :-)

Angela - I'm enjoying what I've read thus far. I'm so impressed with the way the technology flows as part of the story.

E.R. - Yeah, I can enjoy this genre from afar. The tech is something I can just barely wrap my head around. I can tapdance around some of the steampunk themes in a short story but to produce a novel-length story...very cool of Brooke.

Darby Karchut said...

I love the fact that Brooke Johnson wrote the book she wanted to read! Yes!

Cynthia Lee said...

Hey, that book sounds cool as hell. And I'm quite picky about reading material, unfortunately. I hope she does well with it.

Brooke Johnson said...

Thanks all of you for your fantastic comments! :) I hope that if you do choose to buy the book next week that you all enjoy it.

LD Masterson said...

The Clockwork Giant sounds fascinating. Thanks, Angela, for introducing me to Brooke.

Angela Brown said...

Darby - That's the best, writing what you love.

Cynthia - I sure hope it does well. I've enjoyed it thus far.

Brooke - Three cheers to success for your book :-)

LD - My pleasure

CNHolmberg said...

Aweomse--might have to look into it. ;)

Sangu Mandanna said...

That is such a gorgeous cover, I'm actually drooling a bit! The book sounds great too :-)

Angela Orlowski-Peart said...

Awesome interview! Thank you for introducing Brooke and her brand new book. The Clockwork Giant sounds interesting - I'm adding it to my TBR list :-)

Olga said...

I`m always glad when new books come out...I wish those books good luck.

Leslie Rose said...

The concept of Steampunk was cemented for me when the Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr. came out. Best wished to Brooke and The Clockwork Giant.

Shelley Munro said...

Congrats, Brooke. I love the sound of your book. Steampunk is something that I've wanted to experiment with & your journey to Steampunk fascinated me. It's great that you can utilize your love pf clocks. Have you read Meljean Brookes new Steampunk series?

Angela Orlowski-Peart said...

Oh, I forgot to add that one of my favorite steampunk books is The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare.
A similar title to Brooke's :-)

Kate Coursey said...

Great post! I'm a huge fan of steampunk....I think it's a fascinating genre, and I also prefer it without werewolves/vampires (I'm not a huge fan of werewolves/vampires in general). I read and like The Girl in the Steel Corset, but I want to read more steampunk in the future.

Brooke Johnson said...

@Sangu - thank you! I designed it myself, so that's a huge compliment. :)

@Angela - I hope you enjoy it. Also, I absolutely love The Clockwork Angel, and the recently released The Clockwork Prince. They're such fantastic books.

@Leslie - as over the top as that film was, I loved it too. :)

@Shelley - I haven't read those. I'll have to check them out. Thanks!

@Kate - The Girl in the Steel Corset is on my TBR list. I'm not a fan of werewolves and vampires either. Or zombies.

Thanks all of you for the comments. :)

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