I’m so happy to welcome Cindy Spencer Pape to Reading Reality! I discovered Cindy’s work in an all-night reading binge, when I tore through five of her books all at once, and I’ve been scooping them up as fast as they come out ever since. If you’re a fan of either paranormal romance or steampunk, you can’t go wrong with her Urban Arcana or her Gaslight Chronicles. The Gaslight Chronicles combines steampunk with the incredible concept that the Knights of Round Table weren’t just real, but that their descendants are still around!
But today she’s here to talk about the latest entry in the Gaslight Chronicles, Moonlight & Mechanicals. A werewolf trying to resist his love for an engineer! How much more steampunk can you get? (I loved it, take a look at my review for details) But let’s hear what Cindy has to say.
Marlene: Hi Cindy! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Cindy: Let’s see, I live in Michigan with my husband of 27 years and two college-age sons. Two dogs, one iguana, and I’m still the only female in the house. My professional background is in wildlife education, but now I write full time.
Marlene: Describe a typical day of writing. Are you a planner or pantser?
Cindy: I’m not disciplined enough to really have a “typical” day. I get up. Usually I answer my email and play for a little bit on Facebook, plus do any promo I need to for the day. Then I write until dinner time, and sometimes into the evening. I take breaks for email, Facebook food and Diet Coke though-out the day. I can write through just about any chaos, so the TV or XBox is often chattering right beyond my monitor and the dogs demand in and out often enough to keep me from sitting still for too long. As far as plotting, I’m somewhere in between. I have a general idea of where the plot is going to go, and I usually sell on a synopsis these days, so I have a plan, but the details always surprise me.
Marlene: The Gaslight Chronicles take place in a steampunk version of Victorian England. Would you like to provide readers with an introduction to your particular version of steampunk Victoriana?
Cindy: Okay. In the real world, in the 1830-40s, a man named Charles Babbage developed plans for what he called an “analytical engine.” Ada, Lady Lovelace a mathematician and daughter of Lord Byron, wrote the code that this machine would use, on punch cards, to operate. In real life, Babbage’s world fell apart and he never finished this machine. Modern scholars are convinced it might have worked. So in the Gaslight Chronicles, computers were invented in the 1840s, and a woman was the first coder. Lady Lovelace went on (in my world) to establish a college for women in the sciences at Oxford. Therefore, by the middle of the Gaslight books, we have university-educated engineers and doctors who are female. Also, this world has vampires, but they’re not sexy. They’re stinky and rotting and all they want to do is feed. The Order of the Round Table, descendants of the original knights, still exists, mainly to kill vampires and deal with other supernatural threats. Werewolves, on the other hand, are just people, including Liam, the hero of Moonlight. There are some hints that the Fae might be running around as well.
Marlene: Steampunk isn’t just about fiction, it also influences art and costume design. What do you think makes the concept of steampunk so appealing to so many people in so many forms?
Cindy: Well, for one thing, the clothes are incredibly cool. You can go full-on Victorian, or just wear a knockout top hat with your jeans. The genre as far as music, art, fashion, and fiction go is really limitless. As for the social aspect, I suspect it’s a case of lots of grownups who are little kids at heart to get together and play with cool stuff. At least that’s what I like about it.
Marlene: It was an absolutely brilliant idea, but what inspired you to blend the legends of the Knights of the Round Table with steampunk in your Gaslight Chronicles?
Cindy: I have to give credit to my husband for this one. We were sitting outside on the deck and I said, “I need a name for my organization of monster hunters in Victorian England. I described a little of what they do and he suggested the Order of the Round Table. I looked at my manuscript and realized I had already named characters MacKay (son of Kay) and Lake (du Lac). It was as if The Order had already taken shape before I even realized it.
Marlene: A lot of your books, whether they are historical or contemporary, steampunk or not, have at least some paranormal elements. What draws you to write about worlds where the “things that go bump in the night” really exist?
Cindy: Again, I think it comes back to the idea of stretching my imagination. I like my fiction to be an escape from reality, so I try to take it all the way.
Cindy: Well, Wink is one of the most headstrong heroines I’ve ever written. She’s literally crawled her way up from the gutters and she’s not about to let anyone stand in her way. Liam has a bit of a stick up his bum about his own potential as a mate, so he’s going to do his best to hook Wink up with somebody “safe.” You’ll find a bit of Cyrano creeping into the story. And then there’s a maniac trying to take over England with his infernal inventions.
Marlene: You’ve published a number of titles with Ellora’s Cave, and now quite a few with Carina Press. From your perspective, what was different about the publishing experience with these two different publishers?
Cindy: The biggest difference is that Carina is a division of Harlequin. So although the Carina team has a very similar mind-set to other e-publishers, the mechanics of it, the contracts, the royalty checks, and the covers go through more layers of bureaucracy. On the other hand, I’ve gotten a better distribution through Carina, but I do love that Ellora’s Cave offers print. Really, I have good things to say about both publishers, but the experience isn’t at all the same.
Marlene: Will there be more books in this series? What is next on your schedule?
Cindy: The next Gaslight Chronicles book will be out next April and is a shorter novel called Cards and Caravans. Or in my head, it’s the Order goes to the circus. 🙂
Marlene: Will there be any more books in the Urban Arcana series? (please? whimper, whimper)
Cindy: Right now, there aren’t any planned, but I haven’t ruled it out entirely. There’s still Vin the demon who needs a story, and Maeve, the healer from Motor City Fae. I’m not sure if they go together or if they need two separate stories.
Marlene: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read your books?
Cindy: I’m really bad at touting my own work, but I’ll give it a shot. I tend to write characters who are smart and use their brains as well as brawn to solve problems. People tell me there’s humor in there, although I don’t write intentionally funny. What I *do* write is a story meant to take you away from your day to day problems for a little while and transport you to where the good guys always win and get their HEA.
Cindy: One of my books that very few people have read was my first sale, Curses. It’s set in a world fairly similar to Urban Arcana, although it’s in a small Michigan town. It was my first werewolf book, and remains one of my favorites.
Marlene: Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn’t know to ask?
Cindy: I was a grad student intern at the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, once, a long, long time ago.
Marlene: Morning person or night owl?
Cindy: Night owl, all the way.
Cindy, you had me all the way back at “Diet Coke though-out the day,” just so you know. Thanks so much for giving us a little more insight into your world. Babbage’s Difference Engine made all the difference! That makes perfect sense.