Tag Archives: steampunk

Author’s Couch: Q&A with K.A. Stewart

JJD1When I stumbled upon the cover of K.A. Stewart’s first Jesse James Dawson novel–A DEVIL IN THE DETAILS–several years ago, I knew it needed a home on my shelves. A demon-fighting Samurai-sword wielding Midwestern father? What’s not to love about that main character?! 

I devoured the other Jesse James Dawson books, including Stewart’s most recently self-published fourth in the series. Turns out, it’s not just JJD that I love. I also enjoyed Stewart’s steampunk-mythology mash-up SECOND OLYMPUS. You can find my full review here in the archives, and we’re thrilled to have her on the blog today to share a little more about it.

-Nicole

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00025]Synopsis

The war amongst the Greek gods lasted over three decades and when it was ended, the sun was snuffed from the sky, Artemis sat on the throne, and the muses were murdered.

Without the power to create or invent, the human race languished for generations, trapped within the walled city of Elysia, their lives governed by the steady tick of the great world clock and the watchful eye of their increasingly erratic goddess.

But in the lower wards, far from the shining beacon that is Olympus Tower, a crippled boy named Geoff has grown to manhood, unaware of the legacy contained in his own mysterious bloodline. When his loved ones are threatened, the world will finally wake under the power of the muse, and the insane goddess Artemis will remember the very dangerous power of human imagination.

Q&A

1. What’s the story behind the story? Tell us a little about where you got the idea for your book.

SECOND OLYMPUS came about when a friend of mine was lamenting that he seemed to be able to inspire others with great ideas, but he wasn’t good at creating anything himself (his opinion, not mine). That got me to thinking about what a world without inspiration would be like, and I was watching the movie Dark City at the time, and so a world of perpetual night seemed logical to add to the mix. Which then begged the question, what happened to the sun? It just kind of went from there.

BFF: Isn’t it funny how things come together to spark that inspiration? I loved the perpetual night angle – it added the perfect ambiance for your world.

2. What’s your personal favorite part about the story? A character you loved writing, a scene that gives you shivers in all the best ways, etc.

Even eight years after I first set down words on this story, there are still pieces that give me chills and bring tears to my eyes. I hate to say too much, for fear of spoilers, but the scene where Geoff finally exercises ALL his power is… Yeah, that’s my scene. Goosebumps, just thinking about that last heartfelt cry.

BFF: Love hearing this! It’s all about making us readers weep with you. 🙂

3. What do you hope readers take away from your story?

Really, I just hope the reader comes away with a sense that they’ve visited another world, and they had a good time. I’ve never been one for deeper meanings, or lessons to be taught or anything. I just want to entertain people.

4. Who/what are some of your favorite authors or books? Can you share how they’ve inspired you?

My absolute favorite author is Jim Butcher, and most people know him for his DRESDEN FILES series (which I adore). But my true favorite series is also his, the CODEX ALERA, and I’m just in awe of the world building that went into that. I’m kind of a world building junkie, it’s my favorite part of the writing process, and with every new book, I try to push and challenge myself to come up with a world that is truly my own.

BFF: We should share bookshelves! Jim Butcher has a hefty portion of mine too.

5. What is most likely to draw you in to a book?

Like I said above, I’m looking for unique worlds. Give me something with unusual rules, but make them work. If your character has an odd trait, give me a crazy, but totally plausible, reason why. I want to spend time in another world too. 😉

6. What do you wish authors would do more of?

This one was hard. We’re currently in a time in publishing where more things are possible than ever before, both with traditional and self-publishing. I think maybe I would just say that I want authors to take more risks. Not sure a book will sell traditionally? Write it anyway. Someone, somewhere, will love it.

BFF: Fantastic advice! We might need to turn it into a bumper sticker.

7. Tell us a little about your publishing journey.

I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil (literally), but I didn’t actually try to get anything published until I came up with A DEVIL IN THE DETAILS (JJD Book 1). I got an agent in 2008, sold the book in early ’09 and it came out in 2010. Since then I’ve had three more books traditionally published, and two books self-published, and I’m loving every second of it.

8. What’s next on your plate?

I am currently writing the fifth book in the Jesse James Dawson series (BFF: Pause for excited dancing!!), to be self-published hopefully toward the end of this year, and my agent is shopping around something else unrelated but that I’m very excited about.

BFF: And, of course, the fun stuff…

Favorite dragon: Ruth, from the Dragonriders of Pern series
Favorite Shakespeare: Sonnet 29 – “When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes…”
Favorite fantasy food: Klah, also from the Dragonriders of Pern series. Get the recipe!

BFF: What we’re hearing is we basically all need to visit Pern together. Done! Thanks so much for joining us on the Author’s Couch, and best of luck on your upcoming projects.

More About K.A.

KA StewartK.A. Stewart has a BA in English with an emphasis in Literature from William Jewell College. She lives in Missouri with her husband, daughter, two cats, and one small furry demon that thinks it’s a cat.

More About SECOND OLYMPUS

SECOND OLYMPUS: Nicole’s Review

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00025]Title: SECOND OLYMPUS

Author: K.A. Stewart

Publisher(s): Pirate Ninja Press

Format: Paperback

Genre(s): Fantasy/Steampunk

Release Date: April 21, 2015

Synopsis:

I loved this book! It felt like a breath of fresh air among the sometimes stale mix of Greek gods-themed storylines.

In case you haven’t guessed from the cover, SECOND OLYMPUS has steampunk overtones, and that’s part of what makes it great. K.A. Stewart opts to mash up Greek mythology with air ships and the gas-light street-born grittiness of a WWI-esque era.

As a result of Apollo dying in the long-ago war between the gods, the world has been left without a sun, so all light comes from Artemis’ tower and the lamps flickering in the streets. Stewart does an excellent job conveying the consequences of living for centuries within a crowded, walled city with no natural light: deep mining projects that cause the very ground to become unstable, tenement housing built and rebuilt on top of itself year after year, the challenge of growing and cultivating enough food for people.

Review:

I quickly found myself steeped in the world. It’s a haunting take on our own industrial revolution and shows a world on the brink without veering into the stereotypes of true dystopian territory.

The book also shines in Stewart’s portrayal of the gods themselves, mainly Artemis (we’ll get back to her in a moment), Persephone, Demeter, Hades and Hephaestus. Yes, these characters are still gods, but they are gods brought to their KNEES in a way that flips our old assumptions of power on their heads and gives even the most powerful very human-seeming flaws, vulnerabilities, and redeeming qualities.

The story is driven largely by two pairs of characters.

On the mortal side, we have Geoff and Lia, who have grown up together in the dirty wards of Elysia and have managed to steal a good bit of happiness from rather terrible circumstances. I loved the normalness and everyday love of their relationship!

Geoff has been crippled from birth by bad knees, not that he ever lets it stop him (he navigates mine tunnels and freehand climbs a rope to an airship), and he’s been gifted with a unique power to influence those around him as a muse. Most often, I’ve seen the muses used as a convenient nudge for a heroic MC. Stewart takes a broader approach that captures the true power of inspiration and imagination inherent in the muses. I really liked that switch.

Geoff is an unassuming and very grounded MC, which is a brilliant contrast to his antagonist in Artemis. He carefully guards his power, understanding full well the level of influence and control he could have over others should he so choose.

On the more-than-mortal side of the board, we have Artemis and Heracles. I loved these two! There is so much dark backstory hinted at here…it’s incredibly compelling. Let’s tackle them one at a time.

Artemis might take the prize for most intriguing and well-crafted crazy villainess of the year. Stewart expertly gives us revealing glimpses of the once great, noble and innocent huntress, while also making it painfully clear that by the book’s opening the virgin goddess has fallen to near-total insanity. Artemis is clever, strong…and lives in complete fear (and occasional regret) of what she’s done in the past and of losing what she’s wrought for the future. I alternated between wanting her to die a drawn-out painful death and wanting to see her redeem herself because she’s just so darn fun to read.

Heracles, then, is the perfect foil for Artemis. We learn that the former hero teamed with Artemis for good reason at the war’s beginnings, but over the millennia he’s become aware that he’s now playing bodyguard for the evil side. His reactions and actions in light of that realization drive the heart of the plot. Stewart’s Heracles is neither the plucky hero nor the annoying too-perfect rival—roles all too commonly assigned to him in other tales. Instead, he’s more remorseful, jaded. A man searching for a way to earn redemption while keeping his word, and that makes him altogether FAR more interesting.

One other aspect worth mentioning is Stewart’s clever interpretation of Artemis’ “hunt.” The hunt is another Greek element that’s been done in several ways. For SECOND OLYMPUS, Stewart puts a paranormal twist on the goddess’ ability to create and manipulate the hounds of her hunt, formerly men in their own rights. It’s eerie and telling, and strikes the perfect tone for this epic Greek tale.

Needless to say, I enjoyed this one immensely!

5 Stars

-Nicole

(Originally posted on FantasyFaction.com)

Find this book on Amazon.