Final days left for our 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.
eSpec Books interviews Patrick Thomas, contributor to Grimm Machinations, edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Greg Schauer.
eSB: As an author, what drew you to participate in a collection of faerie tale-inspired steampunk?
PT: I was standing out on the corner holding a homemade cardboard sign that read “WILL WRITE FOR FOOD.” Danielle came by and gave me some ginger and a few cookies and here I am. But seriously, I had a blast writing stories for two of Danielle’s previous steampunk anthologies and leapt at a chance to do another mixing in elements of a fairy tale, in my case the Pied (Bag)Piper.
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?
PT: I used my own setting. I have a series of Playworlds, entertainment planets run by aliens for their own amusement with different themes where most the people have no idea what is really going on. The most popular of these is my Steamworld steampunk setting which I revisited for my Grimm Machinations story. Although the queen is mentioned in the story, what isn’t is that the Royal family has been genetically modified by the aliens to resemble faeries, including having pointed ears.
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?
PT: Knowing the devotion of Steampunk fans, I was a tad intimidated. Like any writer, I do my research, but what if I got some crucial aspect of the Victorian-era horribly wrong? That’s when I came up with a way to make sure that didn’t happen. Or if it did, to ensure it didn’t ruin the story. I invented the concept of the Playworlds, alien-developed settings based on popular aspects of human media. Once I made my setting the city Thames (which had the river London running through it), the rest came easy. And by setting it on another world, I was able to have more fun with the story by incorporating Victorian-era themes with several twists.
eSB: What advice would you give aspiring authors considering participating in a themed anthology?
PT: Embrace it. It can be a lot of fun and a chance to get outside your comfort zone, stretch your writing muscles, and write something great that you might not have come up with if left solely to your own devices. And beyond that, if you are fortunate enough to participate in multiple themed anthologies, consider using the same characters or even just the same world and setting. That way after several anthologies, you will have enough stories (hopefully with some original tales added in) to build your own collection.
eSB: What other events are you doing this year—steampunk or otherwise?
PT: I’ll be at both Hunt Valley Monster Mania cons, Balticon, Wellsborough ComicCon, and Twin Tier ComicCon.
eSB: Could you tell us about one of your most amusing experiences promoting your books?
PT: John French, the late great and much-missed C.J. Henderson, and I used to play reader pong. Since we had all been in many different anthologies, written books, and edited anthologies together. Heck, we even wrote a story with all our bylines that crossed over CJ’s Lai Wan, John’s Bianca Jones, and my Agent Karver of the Department of Mystic Affairs. Whenever we sold a book where one of the others appeared as well, we would send the reader over to get it signed. (We tend to do this with other authors as well.) It’s a way for the reader to collect more signatures and a chance for the other author to try to interest them in another book. And if that book should happen to have one of the others in it, we’d wash, rinse, and repeat. We often managed two or three such pongs, but sometimes it would be more. The record for the three of us working in concert was eleven pongs. I was the one who got the last pong when I was informed that the reader would not be buying any more books that weekend.
eSB: What is one thing you would share that would surprise your readers?
PT: One time at a convention, I sold the shirt off the back of an artist sitting next to me.
eSB: What are some of your other works readers can look for?
PT: Murphy’s Lore is a humorous urban fantasy set in the NYC bar at the rainbow’s end. Owned by a leprechaun, Hercules is the bouncer, Dionysus is one of the bartenders, and various folks from myth and legend, along with everyday New Yorkers come in. Since the owner bought the bar with his pot o’ gold, rainbows lead those in trouble to the bar where they can find help. (The extended universe includes two Startenders books set 20+ years in the future where they go out into space, not in starships but barships.)
I write the dark and twisted Dear Cthulhu humorous advice columns, which can be heard monthly on the Destinies: The Voice of Science Fiction radio show.
There is also the Mystic Investigators paranormal mysteries and the steampunk collection As The Gears Turn. Cryptid Fight Club is part of the Systema Paradoxa series about a PI who tries to rescue a Batsquatch and Dingbat from an illegal fight club in Las Vegas. There are three Terrorbelle books, featuring a half-pixie/half-ogre woman who works for Nemesis and fights big bads in New York City. Bikini Jones is a fun SF/F series about a woman cursed by a witch to wear a bikini who saves the world on a semi-regular basis.
eSB: What projects of your own do you have coming up?
PT: Over the next year, I have several books due out including We Will Fight In The Stars (the first Tales of The 142nd Starborne military science fiction series); Detectives Of The Abyss (Co-written with John L. French) and The Abyss Stares Back (a novel and anthology set in the Agents of the Abyss universe where classic monsters get involved with international intrigue ala James Bond), Cthulhu Take The Wheel (the 7th Dear Cthulhu collection). Writing as Patrick T. Fibbs, readers can expect two middle readers Ain’t Seen Muffin Yet (Book 2 in the Babe B. Bear Mysteries) and It’s My Party And I’ll Die If I Want To (Book 2 in The Undead Kid Diaries) and the YA Emotional Support Nightmare. A bit after that will be Bikini Jones Vs. The Emperor of Planet Z (Book 3 of Bikini Jones), Before Twilight (the 10th book in the Murphy’s Lore series), and the new Mystic Investigators book, all written as Patrick Thomas.
There’s been a debate among certain obscure and drunken literary scholars about whether PATRICK THOMAS was raised by Cthulhu or a leprechaun in a Manhattan bar. What there is no arguing about is that Patrick is the award-winning author of 50+ books, including the beloved fantasy humor Murphy’s Lore series, the darkly hilarious Dear Cthulhu advice empire, as well as the Bikini Jones books, the Mystic Investigators series, and the creator of the Agents of the Abyss. His other books include the Hexcraft and the Terrorbelle series, Exile & Entrance, Cryptid Fight Club, and the mystery Assassins’ Ball co-written with John L. French.
Dear Cthulhu has expanded from magazines and books to broadcast monthly on the radio show Destinies: The Voice of Science Fiction. Over 100 of his stories have been published in magazines and anthologies. A number of his books were part of the props department of the CSI television show, and Nightcaps was even thrown at a suspect’s head. His urban fantasy Fairy With A Gun, at one point, had been optioned for film and TV by Laurence Fishburne’s Cinema Gypsy Productions. Top Men Productions has turned his Soul For Hire Story, Act of Contrition, into a short film.
As Patrick T. Fibbs, he writes middle readers, including the Babe B. Bear Mysteries, The Undead Kid Diaries, Joy Reaper Checks Out, the YA Emotional Support Nightmare, and the Ughabooz books for younger kids.
Visit him at www.patthomas.net and www.patricktfibbs.com.