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 Jeff Young, contributor to Grimm Machinations, edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Greg Schauer.

eSB: Grimm Machinations is not the first steampunk faerie tale collection to come along. It isn’t even the first one by this press. What makes it unique?
JY: I think Machinations focus on the maker is what sets it apart. Steampunk inspires a unique level of creativity that is similar to manga. While artisans are not always focused on recreating something specific, like manga or anime cosplayers, they are working towards something that fits the aesthetic, and that provides not only more freedom but tends to inspire more imagination. Refining the expectations of the anthology to include makers in a faery tale setting aligns with that inspiration to do more than just read.

G&GRed-Gold Leaf-150eSB: As an author, what drew you to participate in a collection of faerie tale-inspired steampunk?
JY: After being part of Gaslight & Grimm, I was totally ready for round two. There’s a structure to a good faery tale that’s like writing noir, once you get the ideas together, if you are doing something more traditional, it should flow just like a song.

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?
JY: This is absolutely its own little animal. I’ve created several steampunk milieus for my writing, but the tale of the mask maker Fox stands alone. Who knows though, maybe it shouldn’t – you read it and tell me if I should write more.

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?
JY: I wanted a non-traditional faerytale as the basis for the story and in my research I found a Romanian tale called the Wonderful Bird (The Wonderful Bird | Mite Kremnitz ( While it is a fantastic story, it was way too long and convoluted, so I decided to borrow most of the concepts for inspiration. But this is a steampunk anthology and also was focused on artificers, so I brought the character of the Fox to the forefront, instead of the emperor and his sons, and also made them a mask maker as well as clever. The masks that are at the center of the story are entirely my creation and inspired ones often seen at Renaissance Faires, especially those of Foxes.

eSB: What was your favorite aspect of this project and does it inspire you to continue writing with the characters you created, or in the same universe?
JY: The masks were a happy little accident. I was trying to decide how to deal with a character that was going to appear to play multiple roles and when I was looking at some photos from this year’s Renaissance Faire visits, I saw a friend wearing a fox mask. I had already considered that the makers in the story were going to be the creator of the mechanical bird and the builder of the Spinning Cathedral, but it made so much more sense that the central character of the story would also be a creator as well. That’s how the Fox became a mask maker whose masks were uniquely steampunk and clockwork in nature.

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)?
JY: I think Steampunk inspires creativity because it challenges you as an author to find an alternate solution. We can look back at history and see how the power of steam drove our civilization forward but what Steampunk does is celebrate the “what if?”. It invites one to follow in the footsteps of Verne and Wells and then go way beyond– airships, trains, ironclads, clockwork automatons, and more. It’s also very much a maker-focused genre that inspires repurposing and handmade creation.

eSB: What advice would you give aspiring authors considering participating in a themed anthology?
Grease Monkeys 6 x 9JY: Simple – if you have an idea you love, don’t try to make it fit where it won’t. Editor Dani and I talked about her other book, Grease Monkeys, which is a dieselpunk collection. I had an idea and when I checked about the specifics, I realized this wasn’t a good fit, so I didn’t pass it along. That story is going to have its own place somewhere, just not in this particular collection. Hopefully, I did the smart thing and saved us both some time. If you are lucky another idea will come along in time– go with that one. It’s the best choice for you and your editor.
eSB: What other events are you doing this year—steampunk or otherwise?
JY: I hope to be part of Tell-Tale Steampunk; Confluence – Pittsburgh’s Literary SF&F convention; Books, Books, Books in Lititz, and other events with eSpec Books or Fortress Publishing as part of The Novel Guys.

eSB: What are some of your other works readers can look for?
spiritseeker.jpgJY: In the steampunk genre: my book Spirit Seeker collects the adventures of Kassandra Leyden, a medium in New Britain, which appeared in several anthologies. I was also part of Gaslight & Grimm, eSpec Books’ first foray into Steampunk faery tales, with a story set in Russia featuring Baba Yaga’s walking house. If you are looking for something different, the collection Written in Light brings together my science fiction.

eSB: What projects of your own do you have coming up?
JY: Right now, I at work on a YA steampunk novel called Sinks and Sources, a fantasy novel called Silvers about humans trying to live with magical creatures and finding that harmony isn’t always likely, my perpetual pet project that I call ratchetpunk – At the Feast of Egos, acting as the managing editor for the magazine Mendie the Post Apocalyptic Flower Scout, and writing collaborations with The Novel Guys under several pen names such as Viktor Bloodstone, Apollo Harrison, and Jordan Corvis.


Jeff Young is a bookseller first and a writer second – although he wouldn’t mind a reversal of fortune.

He is an award-winning author who has contributed to the anthologies: Afterpunk, In an Iron Cage: The Magic of Steampunk, Clockwork Chaos, Gaslight and Grimm, Phantasmical Contraptions and other Errors, By Any Means, Best Laid Plans, Dogs of War, Man and Machine, If We Had Known, Fantastic Futures 13, The Society for the Preservation of C.J. Henderson, Eccentric Orbits 2 & 3, Writers of the Future V.26, TV Gods and TV Gods: Summer Programming. Jeff’s own fiction is collected in Spirit Seeker, Written in Light and TOI Special Edition 2 – Diversiforms. He has also edited the Drunken Comic Book Monkey line, TV Gods and TV Gods –Summer Programming and is the managing editor for the magazine, Mendie the Post-Apocalyptic Flower Scout. He has led the Watch the Skies SF&F Discussion Group of Camp Hill and Harrisburg for seventeen years. Jeff is also the proprietor of Helm Haven, the online Etsy and Ebay shops, costuming resources for Renaissance and Steampunk.

Learn more about Jeff Young here:

Website  *  GoodReads  * Amazon Author Page  *  YouTube

Follow Jeff Young on social media: 

Facebook  *  Instagram

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