I’m an EPIC Award-winning author of (mainly) science fiction and steampunk, with over twenty titles currently under contract. My most recent books have been with Carina Press and Samhain, and I’m having a great time bringing the past and the future to life. When I’m not penning fiction, I enjoy reading Victorian adventure novels, playing soccer, and when I can, coastal kayaking.My latest published eBook is The Mysterious Lady Law at Carina Press. It’s a fun steampunk mystery novella that keeps the reader guessing right to the end. Here’s the teaser:In a time of grand airships and steam-powered cars, the death of a penniless young maid will hardly make the front page. But part-time airship waitress and music hall dancer Julia Bairstow is shattered by her sister’s murder. When Lady Law, the most notorious private detective in Britain, offers to investigate the case pro bono, Julia jumps at the chance—even against the advice of Constable Al Grant, who takes her protection surprisingly to heart.Lady Law puts to shame. She’s apprehended and solved countless other cold-case crimes. No one knows how she does it, but it’s brought her fortune, renown and even a title. But is she really what she claims to be—a genius at deducting? Or is Al right and she is not be trusted?Julia is determined to find out the truth, eveturning the tables on Lady Law even if it means turning sleuth herself...
What are some obstacles you’ve had to overcome when writing?
Before I moved into fiction, I wrote a lot of formal rhyming poetry, so my tendency was to over-describe and to go for eloquence over succinct storytelling. I soon had that wrung out of me by my first few editors, and ever since, it’s been a quest to find the balance between purple prose and perfunctory prose. I’ve pretty much found my groove in science fiction, but steampunk is trickier—it demands a certain eloquence, which is where my poetry days and love of come in handy.
Did you have to do any type of research for your novel?
Lots of research. Everything from ladies fashions and polka dances to the invention of the first wireless radio to the etymology of words and phrases. It was a far cry from my usual science fiction worlds, where I pretty much design everything myself, but it was also fun trying to recreate facets of a true historical period. Exhausting but fun. And I now know way too much about petticoats than any guy should.
Did you have any say when it came to your book cover?
I described the title character and came up with the downright inspired “something clockworky and steampunky” concept. What can I say? My genius knows no bounds. Frauke Spanuth totally rode my coat-tails all the way on this one. :grins:
What’s your favorite book turned TV/movie adaption?
For TV, I’d have to say the mini-series adaptation of Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews. It’s haunting and—the one with impeccably made in every way. There’s never been anything to match it. And the book is a bona fide masterpiece. I’d kill to be half as good as Evelyn Waugh.My favourite book-to-movie adaptation is Lord of the Rings. When future generations look back at the history of cinema, they’ll countPeter Jackson’s trilogy alongside the best movies ever made. A less obvious one is Master and Commander—I think the Patrick O’Brian books are unsurpassed as works of historical fiction, and the movie is bloody brilliant, too. Special mention also goes to (book by Tom Wolfe, movie directed by ), which has inspired me for years.
What made you decide to write Steampunk?
It allowed me to combine, for the first time, my passions for Victorian England and science fiction. Inventing new alternate histories and steam-powered contraptions is great fun, but readers will also find the legacies Verne, , H. Rider Haggard and Arthur Conan Doylealive and well in my steampunk stories. It’s a dream come true.
Names are very important to a story, but not always easy to come up with. How did you come up with the names of the characters in your story?
Lady Harriet Law began as the male title character in a narrative poem I wrote a few years back, called The Miraculous Case Files of Herbert Law, about a notorious private detective whose one hundred percent crime-solving legacy confounded Victorian London. When adapting the story, I decided it would be more interesting to have a woman in that role, especially for the notoriety aspect. She solves crimes even the best male Scotland Yard minds can’t touch. The surname speaks for itself, but I chose Harriet because it’s so sweet and harmless—to me, it’s a young girl’s name, a little tomboyish. That was a nice contrast.
If you could meet any author, dead or alive, who would you most want to meet?
I’d choose Tarzan, , and John Carter of Mars—well, that’s the kind of imagination I’d want to be around. He’s captivated generations. The guy who created . Plus, he has a middle name I can eat with chicken curry.
What is your favorite thing to do other than writing?
I’m an avid cinemagoer. Nothing much beats a great blockbuster movie on the biggest screen I can find—preferably IMAX. Pickings have been slim this past year or so, but there’s a pretty decent crop of movies on the way. Cowboys and Aliens—hell yeah!
If you could have a super power what would you pick?
Telekenesis. You could be subtle with that, or kick serious ass if need be. I’d want one where I could easily blend in. Controlled invisibility would be awesome, too. And not for the betterment of mankind. :coughs: backstage with showgirls :coughs:
What can we see from you in the future? Is there anything you can tell us about?
I have three upcoming books at Carina. One’s an epic steampunk adventure called Prehistoric Clock, inspired by a certain Conan Doyle novel that has nothing to do with (you know the one). The other two are outer space science fiction—Sparks in Cosmic Dust, which I’ve just finished editing, and the reprint of my recent EPIC Award finalist, Alien Velocity. I can see myself alternating between those two genres for a while. I’m currently working on the prequel to Claire de Lune with my fabulous erotic co-writer, Sloane Taylor. It’s provisionally titled Dark Side of the Moon and promises even more danger, excitement, and lunar glamour.
You can find Robert on his website: www.robertappleton.co.uk
Thanks so much for stopping by Robert!
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