I’ve been hearing people speak of Steampunk for awhile now with only a general idea of what it meant. I was officially introduced to it over the summer and fell in love immediately. The imagination involved, the aesthetic – it all caught my interest. So when I heard that author Katy O’Dowd was looking to promote her new novel The Lady Astronomer, I jumped at the opportunity to get to know both her and the work.
Katy was lovely enough to answer the following questions for me, so enjoy, learn a little about Steampunk, and then go and then check out her novel!
I haven’t had the pleasure to chat with you before, so why don’t we start with a bit of an introduction. What should the world know about Katy O’Dowd?
Well, I love chocolate and tea and share my home with one husband, two sons and two cats. I also foster cats for the local cat rescue society – but only one at a time, and I’m a bit of a failure at it as we’ve already decided to keep our first foster…. Oh, and I love writing, it keeps me out of trouble.
Steampunk is a much underrated and widely unknown concept. What first caught your interest?
I’m a big fan of the older stuff – you know, Jules Verne, HG Wells and writers of their ilk and era. What really caught my interest was the capacity to be as inventive as you’d like and the chance to let the imagination run riot. The adventure of it all also really grabbed me. Is a fantastic genre.
How does your interpretation of the steampunk genre come out in your story?
I find having an inventor in the story really helpful, and anything I’ve written within the genre has had an inventor. This is twofold – I get to write the Nerd and I get to invent amazing inventions! (cue evil laugh) I also write a lot of historical fiction, so the two dovetail really nicely.
What was the inspiration behind The Lady Astronomer?
I work with an astronomer on some of my projects and he had recommended some fact books for me to read. From one of them I found out about the life of Caroline Herschel, on whom The Lady Astronomer is loosely based. She was an amazing woman, first to sight a comet, first to get a wage in the UK. And all of this in the late 1700s and into the early 1800s.
Do you have any favourite characters in the story?
Ummm. Ahhh. That’s a toughie. I would have to admit that I have a really soft spot for Orion the owl and Wodehouse the butler.
What was your favourite element of writing Steampunk? Did anything surprise you or come out differently than you’d planned from the start?
Within The Lady Astronomer it would have to be the adventure, danger and invention. And yes, I was very surprised at myself when I figured out how to animate Wodehouse, he ended up being much more green than you might expect an automaton to be.
Are there any other projects coming up for you? Do you think you’ll stick with Steampunk for now or is there any other setting/genre you want to play in?
I write historical fiction with my Dad under the name Derry O’Dowd. We’re currently writing a follow-up to the book The Scarlet Ribbon. I’m also starting to do a little world-building for my next solo book, and dabbling with a bit of screenwriting, which is fun. And yes, I think there will always be elements of Steampunk within what I write – I enjoy it too much for there not to be.
Where can people learn more about you or The Lady Astronomer?
You can visit my website www.katyodowd.com though I have to admit to being a bit sporadic when it comes to updating it. I’m on twitter too, @katyod.
Any parting words or thoughts?
If there is one thing that I love about Steampunk – ok, scratch that, more than one – it is the central idea of ‘be nice to one another’ and ‘be splendid’. There should be more of that in the world, I reckon.
The Lady Astronomer:
Lucretia’s life as an astronomer is quickly turned on its head by her eldest brother when he is commanded by the king to build the grandest telescope in the land. Her nights spent on rooftops gazing at the stars are replaced by adventure as the family move to be nearer the king. In a race to build the Forty-foot telescope on time, misfortunes take their toll. The lady astronomer finds court life to be more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. Can she find the strength inside to overcome the obstacles threatening her destiny? Only the
stars will tell.