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 Misty Massey, contributor to Grease Monkeys: The Heart and Soul of Dieselpunk, edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and John L. French.
eSB: As an author, what drew you to participate in a collection of dieselpunk fiction?
MM: I’ve written about fantasy pirates for so long that jumping into a much more technological world was a treat. Like being allowed to eat ice cream for dinner because I finished all my homework – writing about the mechanic and the metal girl was a new experience that gave me a thrill.
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?
MM: Golly, no! My Kestrel novels take place on wooden pirate ships in a fantasy world, and the story for this anthology had to be set in pre-WWII Washington. Night and day!
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?
MM: Originally, I was going to write about a troupe of mechanical dancers, an idea that came from my experience dancing in troupes over the last decade or so. But once I got started, I realized I’d built much too large of a cast of characters for a short story, and I wasn’t going to be able to do it justice. Besides that, I found that I enjoyed the intimacy of the mechanic having a single metal friend to care for instead of a crowd.
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?
MM: I’m definitely not someone who knows much about how machines work, so I tried not to go overboard explaining the metal girl’s internal arrangement. (I did run it past a more mechanically minded family member to make sure it wasn’t completely nonsense.) For me, diving into historical research to add the appropriate touches is my jam. Even an era so close to the present can feel like a long-ago past when we study language and customs. I made sure to pepper everyone’s speech with believable slang, for instance, and included mentions of the uncomfortable political situation of the time. I also read lyrics of popular songs from that period to familiarize myself with their cadence and vocabulary so the metal girl could sing without my editors having to worry about licensing issues for printing someone else’s lyrics.
eSB: What is your favorite dieselpunk fiction? What is your favorite dieselpunk movie? Share with us why.
MM: I’m a big fan of Richard Kadrey’s The Grand Dark. Unlike his Sandman Slim series, this book is heady and lush, filled with the thrill of post-war opportunity and shadowy dealings that underpin every connection. And my favorite movie is Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s a wonderful example of secret magic hiding just out of sight in the comfortable industrial world we think we’ve tamed.
eSB: What advice would you give aspiring authors considering participating in a themed anthology?
MM: Don’t look at the big names who are sharing a table of contents with you and start thinking you aren’t up to snuff with them. Your story has every right to appear and could very well end up being some reader’s favorite one in the whole collection. Believe in your work and yourself.
eSB: What other events are you doing this year—dieselpunk or otherwise?
MM: I’ll be appearing at Ret-Con (Cary, NC), SAGA (Winston-Salem, NC), Atomacon (Charleston, SC), and ConCarolinas (Charlotte, NC) this spring. There may be other events added later, so you can check my website for updates!
eSB: What is one thing you would share that would surprise your readers?
MM: Well, I was a performing belly dancer for over ten years and belonged to a couple of professional troupes. Readers from the Carolinas might have even seen me on stage at the Carolina Renaissance Festival. I was the 1980 TriCounty spelling champion in high school. I look like a middle-aged mom, but I’m a big fan of bands like Rage Against the Machine and Rise Against. Oh, here’s something that might surprise people – I can write my name in cursive, forward with my right hand and backward with my left, at the same time. Ta da!!
eSB: What are some of your other works readers can look for?
MM: I mentioned the pirates earlier, so you can look for Mad Kestrel and the recent sequel, Kestrel’s Dance, from Loreseekers Press. If you’d like to check out some of the other themed anthologies I’ve been involved with, you can try The Weird Wild West (e-Spec Books), Lawless Lands (Falstaff), Submerged (ZNB), or Cinched (Falstaff).
eSB: What projects of your own do you have coming up?
MM: I’m releasing the Dead Man series, a three-novella weird western saga featuring Doc Holliday returned from the dead later this year from Falstaff Books, and a fantasy-noir tale, The Big Smush, as part of the Shingles collection. And, of course, I’m hard at work on the third of Kestrel’s pirate adventures, with any luck coming in 2024 from Loreseekers Press.
Misty Massey is the author of the Mad Kestrel series of rollicking fantasy adventures on the high seas. She is an editor for several small presses, and an instructor for the Speculative Fiction Academy. When she’s not writing or editing, Misty appears on the Authors & Dragons podcast sister show, Calamity Janes, as the cheerful, sundrenched cleric, Malibu. She’s a sucker for ginger snaps, African coffee, and anything sparkly. You can keep up with Misty at mistymassey.com and on Facebook and Twitter.
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