Interview With Pauline Baird Jones

I just recommended Steamrolled and Steam Time by Pauline Baird Jones and I had some questions I wanted to ask so I emailed Pauline and asked if she would be willing to do a short interview.  Here are my questions and her reply.

Pauline:  I’d love to do a short interview! Thank you so much and glad you liked the book and short story enough to recommend them! 🙂 Hope you’re having a great summer. All the best, Pauline

Jo:  The Key and Girl Gone Novawere both Science Fiction Romance. What gave you the idea to combine Steampunk with SFR in Tangled in Time and Steamrolled?

Pauline:  That is a most convoluted story. Or a slightly convoluted one. It feels convoluted now, but at the time, it was a process that was sometimes painful but ultimately fun. <g>

 It started when I read my first steampunk novel: Soulless by Gail Carriger. I don’t write historical, but it was so fun, I put it down thinking, “I’d like to write something steampunk. That was really fun.”

Fast forward a couple of months to my writing chapter’s anthology deadline. My assignment that I’d avoided thinking about: write a short story of 7,000 words or less using a Texas Landmark or historical site (I chose Big Bend National Park). I wanted to tie it into my PROJECT UNIVERSE connected series, so that meant some type of alien thing and a character from the series who hadn’t been featured yet. (I even had some cave drawings that looked a bit alien that the hubby found online.) After several false starts (okay, a bunch) I wanted to give up, and then I found myself wondering if this was my chance to write something steampunk-ish. I didn’t think I could write a whole, historical type novel, but a short story? Hmmmm.

And just like that, Olivia from TANGLED IN TIME popped into my head. She seemed perfect for Colonel Carey, a lonely man who didn’t know he was in need of a good woman. And I’d already been playing with time travel, so that was no problem. So I started writing. And writing. And writing. I blew past 7,000 words and told myself, maybe I can have “two” stories in the anthology. When I hit 14,000 words and the story wasn’t done, I knew I had at least a novella, if not a novel in the making. Thankfully (for me and my editor) the story wound to a close at around 28,000 words.

I heard from some sources that the mashup of science fiction romance and steampunk was risky, but I’ve been mashing genres and breaking rules since I started writing. <g>

And the introduction of the transmogrification machine to the story set up the plot for STEAMROLLED in this amazing way that I did not see coming. So overall, very fun, and yeah, pretty whacky. <g>

Jo:  Where did you find all the steampunk terms you used in both stories?  Is there a steampunk dictionary or did you make them up?

Pauline:  There actually IS a steampunk dictionary, or should I say, there is an app for that. <vbg> But I got most of my vintage language from researching the Victorian Era. I can state with some confidence that I did MORE research for that little novella than for any full length novel. I even bought Victorian paper dolls in my search for Olivia’s perfect outfit for her meeting with Carey. I was so amazed by what I needed to find out, that I posted the research books and links to the book page on my website. I also commissioned an artist to sketch my transmogrification machine. A graphic of the drawing is available on my website, but it also makes guest appearances in both books’ cover art.

Jo:  I am fascinated by the craft of writing and the different approaches Authors take.  How do you structure your stories and what is you typical writing day like?

Pauline:  I am an into-the-mist-seat-of-the-pants writer. I have no clue where the story is going until I write it down. For instance, with TANGLED IN TIME, I had two characters and a location: Big Bend National Park. That was all. I knew Carey already had a way to travel through time, but Olivia needed transport. Because steampunk is fun and a bit whacky, I started there in creating her machine. It was fun to make it as crazy as possible (and I did make up the names of the goofy inventions, well, sort of. I looked for goofy names and gave them a bit of a spin.) And then I kept asking myself, “What if?” and “What could go more wrong?” (I was really shocked when the nefarious Dr. Smith showed up. Did not see that coming.) So I just tell people I commit random acts of writing. And then I do a LOT of editing. <g>

My writing day? Oh wow, can I make something up that makes me sound really serious and dedicated? No? Okay, my writing day is a random as my plotting. I wander through it. I write a little, think a LOT, and whine like a two year old when it doesn’t go well (or play Angry Birds like that will jump start my Muse who prefers Solitaire). I also apply Diet Dr. Pepper to my brain and feed chocolate to the Muse. It likes pastries, too. It’s painful until the Muse settles down and then its lovely. Like flying (dream flying with crashes. <g>). There are days when I’m sure I will fail, that I should quit and then suddenly the story comes unstuck, my characters quit fighting me and get with the story and it just flows. I like those days the best. <g>

Many thanks for the great questions and for letting me type to you and your blog visitors. 🙂

Jo:  You can read more about Pauline and her writing at her web site Perils of Pauline  and you can buy her books at Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Noble and Fictionwise.  A big thanks to Pauline for taking the time off from writing to do the interview.

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