Jenny Schwartz is a West Australian writer. She studied history and sociology at university — which proves she’s always been curious about people. Then she worked in the public service for a while. Great people, but sometimes government policy is just plain dumb. Implementing dumb policy can be more soul-sucking than two dozen vampires. You do not want to hear her rant about politics.
She loves writing, particularly fantasy, because it lets her explore the world and its issues in new ways, but always — always! — with the guarantee of a happy ending. Jenny is a happy ever after addict.
1. I was just thinking that all writers have cats, and I discover that you have a Golden Retriever! So, what is the human/animal census in your home?
A census question! You’re a treasure, AmyBeth. I love census night. I’ll admit it, I enjoy filling in forms. But to answer the question…Unfortunately, Toby is an only. Although sometimes my sister’s dog, Abby comes to visit.
Here they are pretending to be good. Toby’s the blond drongo (Aussie slang for brawn but not much brain) and Abby’s the black dynamo. She’s half kelpie and endlessly energetic.
2. How many imaginary creatures share your home?
They’re perched everywhere! A few years ago I picked up a copy of Brenda Rosen’s The Mythical Creatures Bible and that was it. They invaded my stories and my poems, rampaged through my novels.
Little Minerva isn’t mythical, but she is my writing mascot and sits beside my computer and the never-ending To Do list. The photo though is taken outside so you can see the glorious northwest Australian stone she’s carved from. I think it’s called zebra-tite, something like that.
3. How many blogs do you participate in?
I’m a member of two group blogs, Here Be Magic (fantasy authors published with Carina Press) and Dark Side DownUnder (speculative fiction writers who are also members of Romance Writers of Australia). Both blogs are awesome because of the people involved. Writers are among the world’s most generous, supportive, friendly and damn funny (in a good way! Not funny-strange) people.
I have my own blog at my website where I post daily … well, Sanity Sundays excepted.
4. Besides the blogs, what social media do you use? Do you keep the personal and professional separate?
Personal and professional blurs for me. I’m online as me. My motto is “If I’m not willing to own it, I shouldn’t say it”. With that clear in my mind, I then go ahead and say anything I want!
I’m also part of the Harlequin Community.
5. How much writing did you do before being published?
I’ve always scribbled. What I found really helpful was submitting stories to SF&F magazines. The spec fiction community is incredibly supportive. Often the editor/publishers are volunteers, but they give time, advice and encouragement lavishly.
I also spent years lurking and learning at Absolute Write. Wonderful people!
6. What kind of works have you had published?
A couple of romance novels, one with a fantasy element. Three paranormal romance novellas with Carina Press. A number of short stories in a range of different magazines that still blows my mind; from “People’s Friend”, a very conservative UK fiction magazine, to horror ezines. And poems. I love getting my poems published. Again, the place of publication ranges widely from Christian magazines to Australian literary and a number of SF&F zines.
7. What’s the difference between historical fiction and Steampunk? Is it science fiction?
My rough and ready definition is that steampunk is history as it ought to have been. But yeah, I think it fits in science fiction. It is the future imagined in the past. It’s also incredibly addictive, both to read and to write. You have been warned!
8. Why do images of octopi tend to show up so frequently in Steampunk?
Now this is a question that puzzled me, too, so I did some research a few weeks ago and found Cthulhu. So now we both know: H P Lovecraft is to blame!
9. What background and experience do you draw on to write Australian Steampunk?
I misused my history degree. Years ago, I studied Australian social history along with sociology. My interest in both has never faded, so steampunk came along as the perfect fit. Even better, it’s given me a chance to re-imagine the town I grew up in – Fremantle – and the history of Western Australia. West Australians are famously parochial … think Texan with kangaroos … so this is part of my master plan to lure everyone into visiting. I really hope you do.
And since that’s a great excuse for a photo…here is Fremantle’s Bathers’ Beach which will host the Sailing World Championships in December — at the same time as my steampunk novella with a Fremantle setting releases from Carina Press. Well, obviously, the sailing isn’t going to happen on the beach…but the spectators will be there and you can see preparations are underway.
10. What path did your manuscript take to be included in the anthology A Clockwork Christmas?
Actually, the path to publication for “Wanted: One Scoundrel” has been so smooth it must have been blessed by the steampunk gods.
Angela James put out an open call from Carina Press for Christmas and winter themed steampunk novellas and I immediately thought of an idea. The idea grew, flourished and practically wrote itself. I had so much fun with the idea, I think it’s probably illegal to enjoy your work that much.
Then came the tough part. I sub’d the MS to Angela, crossed all my fingers and toes, and went back to working on an angel and djinn story.
Fortunately, Angela loved the story, signed me up, and I lucked out with three of the best antho sisters you can imagine: JK Coi, PG Forte and Stacy Gail. These girls are amazing and we’ve been having a blast with promo – which might just be our excuse to talk and talk and talk. Little things like timezone differences don’t stop us!
11. Can you describe the experience of becoming part of an anthology?
Oops. I started answering this in the question above. Let me see. I can honestly say it’s awesome. You become part of a team and that doubles and redoubles your enthusiasm.
12. Do you know who is recording the audio for Wanted: One Scoundrel? Will they have an Australian accent?
An Aussie accent would be cool, but I’d also really like a man’s Californian drawl. Then I could imagine he was my hero, Jed, come to life. But no, I’ve no idea who’ll be reading the antho. But I do know the audible.com voices are excellent, so I’m not worried.
13. Christmas in the north means snow outside and a warm fire inside. Does Santa trade sleigh runners for all-wheel-drive when he delivers down under?
I have got to find you a picture.
In Australia Santa arrives in a sleigh pulled by kangaroos.
In my neighbourhood, growing up, Santa also arrived on the back of a truck and threw lollies to us kids. Sadly, I don’t have a photo of that.
14. What would a Steampunk Santa look like?
Hmm. Steampunk Santa…now there’s a challenge. I love this 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea version, but for my money …
A Steampunk Santa has to wear brass goggles to protect his eyes from soot (and to see milk and cookies in the dark!) and steam-powered boots to boost him back up the chimney. He’ll have freed Rudolf and co to roam around the North Pole, and travel by dirigible instead. Clockwork elves keep him organised with lists of who’s been naughty or nice, and he carries an emergency tot of brandy in a hip flask with a stylised octopus stopper.
15. What is your favorite electronic or digital writing tool?
MS Word. No, seriously. I’ve used it for so long I’m really comfy with its shortcuts and I find myself typing effortlessly. But I’ve also just bought myself a curved keyboard and that is proving a blessing for my poor wrists.
16. What is your favorite non-electronic writing tool?
My old atlas. Not because it’s an atlas, but because it’s the perfect size to rest my small notebook on to scribble. I curl up in a chair with it and start scribbling ideas. Most of my writing is done as typing, but poetry absolutely demands pen and paper. I hope that doesn’t sound pretentious? It just works that way for me.
17. What is the most persistent distraction from writing?
Reading! But then, reading will distract me from almost anything. A new book on the kindle and the darned chores can wait!
18. What is your ideal writing environment? Have you ever been able to create it?
I do manage to get uninterrupted writing time and that is my main requirement, but if I could dream … I’d like a house by the sea, a room in it just for writing, a public library in walking distance and chocolate that doesn’t make me put on weight. LOL, I’m not asking for much.
19. What are you working on next?
More steampunk. Esme and Jed from “Wanted: One Scoundrel” just insist on having more adventures. And in getting their love lives tangled. Such fun! Hopefully Carina Press agrees with me, but somehow, some way, these stories will be told.
I try to keep readers up to date with what I’m doing on my Current Projects page at my website. Try being the operative word. Why is there never enough time in the day for everything I want to do?
20. Who shot first, Han or Greedo?
Huh? *laughs* Now, AmyBeth, you know I’ve never watched a Star Wars movie. However, I have read all the Terry Pratchett Discworld novels (many times, I’m such a fangirl) and in those Greebo is an evil one-eyed cat who gets turned into a man by the witches (who have a good reason, no cruelty involved). And as a man he is sex personified. RRRowl.
Um, where was I?
Oh, yeah, who shot first? Well, it’d have to Han because Greebo the cat would have used his claws.
These have been the best questions to answer. Thank you, AmyBeth.
We Wish You a Steampunk Christmas
Changed forever after tragedy, a woman must draw strength from her husband’s love. A man learns that love isn’t always what you expect. A thief steals the heart of a vengeful professor. And an American inventor finds love Down Under. Enjoy Victorian Christmas with a clockwork twist in these four steampunk novellas.
Crime Wave in a Corset by Stacy Gail
This Winter Heart by PG Forte
Wanted: One Scoundrel by Jenny Schwartz
Far From Broken by JK Coi
Stories also available for purchase separately.
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