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

While we are not the first to explore the realm of dieselpunk, it is fair to say there isn’t a lot out there. And I can say with full confidence no one else has gone in this direction! Grease Monkeys: The Heart and Soul of Dieselpunk takes a look at the mechanics that keep the tech running and even mod it out beyond its original capabilities, striving for efficiency and peak performance or just keeping things going.

The other two books funding through the campaign are Grimm Machinations – the sequel to Gaslight & Grimm, bringing you even more steampunk faerie tales; and A Cast of Crows, a Poe-inspired steampunk collection created in conjunction with the Tell-Tale Steampunk Festival.

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 Ken Schrader, contributor to Grease Monkeys: The Heart and Soul of Dieselpunk, edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and John L. French.

eSB: Grease Monkeys is a collection of dieselpunk stories, a genre that doesn’t seem to get as much attention as its older sibling, steampunk. What challenges did you face transitioning from one to the other? What did you find similar, and what was different?

KS: For me, the biggest challenge was the tone of the story. Steampunk, particularly in dialogue, has a more formal feel to it. There’s a kind of luster to the world, gaslight shining off all the polished brass. Dieselpunk is closer to the modern time. It’s showing the wear and tear brought on by technological advancements. For the first time, you’re putting the words “Machine” and “Gun” together, and the world can’t help but change after that. The brass has a bit of tarnish. There’s a dent or a chip in the paint and a vague smell of exhaust. Both genre’s will let you play wonderfully fast and loose with what’s possible technologically, but where they differ is that Steampunk is, generally speaking, a hopeful genre, whereas the folk in a Dieselpunk story have gotten knocked down a few times and have had to get back up… and it’s starting to show.

eSB: What was your favorite aspect of writing for this collection and why?

KS: This was a foray into a genre that I hadn’t written in before. Sure, I’ve seen Dieselpunk films (more on those later), but this had me diving deep into the art, and the aesthetics of Dieselpunk, to really get a clear picture of what was going on under the hood. I really liked what I found there, and while this may have been my first Dieselpunk story, it won’t be my last.

eSB: No spoilers, but what was your inspiration for your story and did you introduce any easter eggs for either the dieselpunk aspect or your own body of work?

KS: There is a lot of Dieselpunk art out there, and while I didn’t nod directly at any particular piece of work (Art, Book, Movie), I did draw upon visuals from movies like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and The Rocketeer show me a world that was similar, but fantastically different to our own.   

eSB: Are there any interesting details that you incorporated in your story to harken to the historic period 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?

KS: I did do research when necessary to keep myself properly – if not exactly – on the timeline. Specific mentions of technology or machines are either period appropriate or appeared on the scene a few years later. Some details I researched, while interesting on their own, didn’t specifically get mentioned in the story but helped me with the underlying logic.

eSB: What is your favorite dieselpunk fiction? What is your favorite dieselpunk movie? Share with us why.

KS: I had to think about this one for a moment, and, as it turns out, I get most of my Dieselpunk from movies. Favorite Dieselpunk movie? The hands-down winner there is Raiders of the Lost Ark (Which also counts for fiction since I’ve read the novelization). True, the story takes place a little bit later than the typical Dieselpunk range, but I think it fits in there quite nicely, and it revived the kind of action stories that been on the wane at that time.  

eSB: What advice would you give aspiring authors considering participating in a themed anthology?

KS: Find a theme that speaks to you and go for it. It’s a good way to get those initial publishing credits, you’ll get experience working with editors, the opportunity to learn is immense.

eSB: What other events are you doing this year—dieselpunk or otherwise?

KS: I’ve got applications in to be a panelist at Ravencon (April 21-23), Balticon (May 26-29), and ConCarolinas (June 2-4).

eSB: What are some of your other works readers can look for?

lg-book-wwwKS: You can find my story, “Haven” in eSpec Books’ Weird Wild West anthology.

My story “The Price of Power” is in the Trials anthology.

My story “Brimstone” is in the Predators in Petticoats anthology.

eSB: What projects of your own do you have coming up?

KS: My novella Crimson Whisper will be coming out later this year as part of the Systema Paradoxa Series in conjunction with the Cryptid Crate monthly subscription box.

SchraderKen Schrader writes Science Fiction, Fantasy, Weird Westerns, and anything else he can get away with. He’s a shameless Geek, a fan of the Oxford comma, and he makes housing decisions based upon the space available for bookshelves.

He sings out loud when there’s no one around, enjoys a good grilling session, and loves a powerful drum beat. He can also procrastinate so well you’d think it was a superpower.

He lives in Michigan, and despite the seasonal allergies, he always enjoys mowing the lawn.

Learn more about Ken Schrader here:

Website  *  GoodReads  * Amazon Author Page

Follow Ken Schrader s on social media: 

Facebook  *  Twitter

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