I first “met” Simon over at Write 1 Sub 1 and then from there I began to follow his blog. He is stopping by today to talk about his newest release, a YA steampunk novel titled ENGN. I was lucky enough to win a copy of ENGN from a giveaway over at Librarything and though I’m only about 25% of the way through right now I’m really enjoying it. Because of that (and also because he’s just a genuinely nice guy) I was more than happy to open up my blog for him today.
Thank you for coming by Simon
Finn’s childhood in the valley is idyllic, but across the plains lies a threat. Engn is an ever-growing steam-powered fortress, that needs a never-ending supply of workers. Generation after generation have been taken away, escorted into its depths by the mysterious and terrifying Ironclads, never to return.
The Masters of Engn first take Finn’s sister, then his best friend, Connor. He thinks he, at least, is safe – until the day the ironclads come to haul him away.
Yet all is not lost, Finn has a plan. In the peace of the valley he and Connor made a pact. A promise to join the mythical Wreckers and end Engn’s tyranny.
But now on his own, lost and thwarted in the vastness of Engn, Finn begins to have doubts. Is Connor really working to destroy Engn?
Or has he become part of the machine?
Guest Post by Simon Kewin ~ Words
Like any book, Engn is constructed from words. But certain words are more important than others – and some were crucial to the novel, helping me to imagine the world of the novel as well as some of the people within it. Two obvious examples are “naphtha” and “Ironclad” – both good, steampunky words. These, and a few other words like them, allowed me to envisage the vast, steam-powered machinery that is Engn.The process is an entirely rational one, I’m sure, words triggering associations and connections in the brain. But it feels like something magical, as if these simple words are summoning the beings and settings into existence. “Line-of-sight” was another one: I heard the phrase somewhere as I was working on early versions of the novel, and suddenly I could see this communication network, all these telescopes flashing messages around like a steampunk internet. Again, these became essential to my imagining of the novel. Whether or not they would actually work in our universe…
People, too, were sometimes born out of words. The obvious example is Mrs. Megrim, who started out as just that word, nothing more, but who became perhaps my favourite character in the book. A megrim is an old word for a migraine. I came across it somewhere and immediately imagined a scowling, black-clad woman who won’t stand for any nonsense. But who – without giving anything of the story away – has a lot more going on beneath the surface.
Perhaps the most significant word, of course, is the title itself. “Engn” is pronounced like “engine” (at least in my head), because it’s the name of a vast machine. But it also has that strange abbreviation as if worn away by long use, or as if parts have been lost, so that it barely makes sense now. Because that’s how it is with my machine: it’s been working for a long time in one form or another, its original form and function altered or lost (or is it?) A simple, odd four-letter word that, once I’d thought of it, had to be used. Again it felt like an invocation. With the word Engn in my head I could suddenly see the great machine stretching across the horizon, pumping away, smoke rising over those towers and wheels, the people crawling in and around it like ants.
Words are wonderful things. The simple act of spelling out a few letters can work magic…
Simon Kewin – Biography
Simon was born and raised on the misty Isle of Man, but now lives and works deep in rural England. He divides his time between writing SF/fantasy fiction and computer software. He has had around fifty short stories published in a variety of magazines and anthologies, along with a similar number of poems. He has a degree in English Literature from the Open University.
He is currently learning to play the electric guitar. It’s not going that well, frankly.
He lives with Alison, their two daughters Eleanor and Rose, and a black cat called Morgan to which he is allergic.