Today I have the pleasure of welcoming back science fiction and fantasy writer, Simon Kewin. Over the last seven days he's been entertaining us all with his Engn Launch Tour. Today he's going to tell us where the idea for his second novel Engn, published by December House, came from.
Over to you, Simon.
Engn emerged from two completely unrelated story ideas that were bouncing around in my head. One had two childhood friends making a youthful pact to change the world and right all its perceived wrongs. One friend ends up in a position of authority while the other is an outsider. The question of the story was whether each has remained true to their youthful ideals or whether they've acquired the (so-called) wisdom of maturity. The other story was completely unrelated. It was more of a setting, really - an incomprehensible, steam-powered machine the size of a city that people live in without knowing why, and which is so big they don't question. It was an idea that intrigued me. I think we all do that to some extent in order to survive - accept the really big things as given and puzzle over the small stuff. And the idea of this great machine seemed like an interesting metaphor to play with - although different readers will have different ideas as to what (if anything) it means.
"The track ran off in an unbroken line, from Finn’s feet away to the horizon. He could see grey clouds massing over there, like the bulk and peaks of another mountain range. At one point the clouds formed a sharp funnel down to the ground, as if they were being sucked out of the sky. He had never seen anything like it. He wiped his eyes and looked again. Now he could make out buildings beneath the funnel, a great clutter of misshapen blocks, with chimneys of different heights reaching up. A plume of grey smoke poured from the tallest chimney, widening into the delta that merged with the clouds. The whole sky was being made there; a sky of smoke from the chimneys of Engn ... Here and there, bars of sun through the clouds picked out the distant scene with white spotlights, glistening off metal towers and wheels nearly as high as the chimneys. It stretched all across the horizon: an entire, artificial mountain-range of machinery."
So, I suddenly thought it would be interesting to smash these two ideas together and create a novel out of them. The combination gave me room to play. Two childhood friends are taken to the vast machine. They have promised to try to destroy it, but what happens when they get there? Do they remain true to themselves or do they change? Do they even survive? Do they remain loyal or do they betray each other?
That was where I started, although my main concern as I was writing was to come up with an exciting adventure story. A fun read. It seemed to me the setting of Engn would give me plenty of scope for dangers and difficulties for my poor hero, Finn, to face. Lots of dangerous machinery for him to fall off and get lost within. The novel has evolved considerably from that original vision, but its core remains the same. Can Finn survive his strange and terrible struggles inside the great machine? Can he do what he set out to do or does Engn end up defeating him?
It was all a lot of fun to write. I hope others have as much fun reading it.
Finn's childhood in the valley is idyllic, but across the plains lies a threat. Engn is an ever-growing steampowered 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 way.
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?
Price: £4.99 / $6.99
About Simon Kewin
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.
Simon's Twitter: @SimonKewin
About December House
At December House we're a different kind of publisher. We don't publish print books, we only publish to e-book distribution platforms (Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, Nook, Smashwords, Tomely and Google Play), but we're not self publishing and we're definitely not a vanity press. We only publish great writing from great authors. If we think a writer's work has promise then we'll work with them to deliver on that promise, just like a traditional publisher. Then we take over everything, from writing a blurb to designing a cover and deciding on a price, through to marketing the book pre and post publication. We believe it's our job to sell a book, and a writer's job to write it.
For more details see www.DecemberHouse.net
Thank you, Simon. I love Engn's premise, and how two totally different ideas merged to become one novel. I have it on my TBR pile!
I will be back on Monday with a mega catch-up post. Have a great rest of the week.