We are at it again! Kicking off the year with a brand-new campaign: Full Steam Ahead!

Grimm Machinations is a fun follow-up to our collection Gaslight & Grimm. More steampunk faerie tales, only this time all of the tales the stories are based on are about makers or conmen, playing with the dual meanings of “Machinations.”

The other two books funding through the campaign are A Cast of Crows, Poe-inspired fiction created in conjunction with the Tell-Tall Steampunk Festival; and Grease Monkeys: The Heart and Soul of Dieselpunk, our first foray into dieselpunk.

Over the course of the campaign, we will be featuring these spotlights so you can get to know our authors—and the projects—better.

eSpec Books interviews Cynthia Radthorne, contributor to Grimm Machinations, edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Greg Schauer.

eSB: Did you base your story on your own previous literary setting or did you embrace the faerie connection? Or hey, did you do both?
CR: My initial take was to go all-in on the original fable aspect but ultimately, we went a different direction, retaining the essential thematic elements of the classic faerie tale but repurposing them into a more ‘traditional’ (if that term works in this context) steampunk-oriented story.

eSB: No spoilers, but what was your inspiration for your story and did you introduce any easter eggs for either the faerie tale aspect or your own body of work?
CR: In the original faerie tale, the focus is on Rumpelstiltskin and many of the other characters are reacting to him. In this story, I wanted the spotlight to be more on the protagonist, who, in the end, manages to undo him, so that she becomes more of a fully-fledged character than is shown in the original tale. There aren’t any Easter eggs per see, but I did have fun weaving some contemporary ideas into the steampunk milieu.

eSB: Are there any interesting details that you incorporated in your story to harken to the historic aspect of the genre? Are you the kind of ’punk who reveals in the period-appropriate technobabble, or do you dig deep into the research to include period-accurate touches?
CR: Details are what help flesh out the story and make it feel grounded in its time period or setting. But to be honest, my focus has always been more on character-driven stories than on technobabble, whether the latter is science or magic. I’d rather bring emotions to life, as I feel those are the things that stick in a reader’s mind more so than objects in the story.

eSB: Is this your first time writing for a themed anthology? If so, how did you find the experience? If not, what draws you to them?
CR: This is my first anthology, and in fact, my first professional short fiction piece, as my prior published work has all been novel length. It confirmed what I already knew, that short fiction is a difficult beastie! Being concise enough to hit word count targets and yet present engaging characters and a cohesive plot is quite the challenge. I have immense respect for the writers who specialize in this format!

eSB: What is it about steampunk that you like most as an author? And what do you like about it as a reader, (presuming the answer isn’t the same)?
CR: It’s always fun to take other time periods and introduce new elements into them. Steampunk allows you to add just enough flavor to the historical context that it feels familiar and yet new and interesting at the same time.

eSB: Could you tell us about one of your most amusing experiences promoting your books?
CR: I did a multi-author bookstore reading event where the other writers were sci-fi people (me being the lone fantasy author of the bunch). After we each read a short excerpt from our books, there was a question-and-answer period. After maybe the second question, about how to build a rocket ship, the entire panel just took off – we spent the entire remaining time, and then some, building a rocketship right out of our imaginations, bouncing back and forth with ideas among all of us on the panel. It was hilarious fun and the customers all seemed to love it. (I don’t think our resulting spacecraft would have worked much beyond a Monty Python skit).

eSB: What are some of your other works readers can look for?
CR: My other published works are The Road to Bakara, The Sands of Sabakushi, and The Pool of Shikama, the novels in The Tales of Tonogato series, an Asian-themed fantasy world. Big magic, big stories. The first two books cover one large story arc, while the third book follows the descendants of the characters in the first two. The series is available in e-book format via Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

eSB: What projects of your own do you have coming up?
CR: I have two new fantasy novels in the works, a shorter one with a strong female character focus and a larger epic one spread over two time periods that interweave.

CynthiaRadthorneColor300Cynthia Radthorne is an author and illustrator residing in the Pacific Northwest. Her characters, both honorable and devious, populate her series of Asian-themed fantasy novels, The Tales of Tonogato. Her illustrations have appeared on book covers, websites, trading card games, and at art show displays at science fiction and fantasy conventions. At Cynthia’s website,, one can peruse a sample from one of her books and view her art gallery.

Learn more about Cynthia Radthorne here:

Website  *  GoodReads

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